Terrible Movie Thursday: Pearl Harbor

I love Pearl Harbor (the movie, not the actual attack – please don’t assault me 90-year-old WWII vets who can still kick my ass). It’s not one of the best war movies (that is and will always be Saving Private Ryan, one of my top 5 movies of all time) but it is entertaining as all hell. Yet, here we are, breaking it down on Terrible Movie Thursday.

In honor of the recent Memorial Day, I thought it appropriate to look at one of the most unfairly maligned war movies of all time. Pearl Harbor may not have the emotional gravitas or raw depiction of war that movies like Platoon or Black Hawk Down do, but it is still a damn fun movie that deserves a hell of a lot more respect on its name than the 21% approval rating on Rottentomates gave it.

Critics Consensus

Pearl Harbor tries to be the Titanic of war movies, but it’s just a tedious romance filled with laughably bad dialogue. The 40 minute action sequence is spectacular though.

This…is actually pretty accurate. If there is one aspect of this movie that almost everyone agrees with it’s that the shoe-horned love triangle between Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, and Josh Hartnett was just completely unneeded and unsatisfying. However, you damn well better give that 40 minute action sequence more credit for carrying the shit dialogue.

Now we have to admit…

  • I mean, I’ve already said the romance is unnecessary, but it’s also incredibly unbelievable. Hartnett falls for his buddy’s girl like, what, a week after he’s pronounced dead? But also, Affleck had only been with that girl for like an evening, but for some reason is pissed that she didn’t sit around mourning him? Like, yeah it’s a dick move for your buddy to make a move on a girl you were feeling, but also the statue of limitations has to run at some point. Both of them are scumbags to the maximum.
  • It also makes zero sense why Affleck wasn’t able to get a letter or anything out to anyone for a year. I mean, he was behind enemy lines but he wasn’t in a German prison or anything. Surely there was some way the French were communicating with the Brits and Americans and Ben could just slip in the “hey let my girlfriend, well not really my girlfriend I mean we only went out like once, know that I’m alive. My name’s Rafe, in case she forgot, which is likely since I’m a borderline stranger.”
  • I can’t think of a single actor or actress in this movie who did a good job in this movie. Like, not one. Every one of them delivered their lines with so much cheese you would have had to pay extra to get it on your pizza.

But come on guys…

  • It’s already been said, but the actual Pearl Harbor scene is…exquisite. I mean it’s an absolute orgy of action and explosions straight from the brain of Michael Bay. Michael Bay is basically a meme for being all flash and no substance to his movies, but goddamn that flash is amazing. He so perfectly captures the chaos, panic, and helplessness of the people stationed there.
  • This movie has one of the biggest “fuck yeah” moments of all war movies when Cuba Gooding Jr. finally gets to step up and be a part of the fight, gunning down Japanese bombers. The emotion from Cuba, the swell of music, god if that moment doesn’t have your skin tingling a bit I don’t know what will.
  • I mean seriously, the framing of the action, the camerawork, the choreography of all the action is just pristine. Michael Bay seriously needs to get more credit for how he directs action (well other than those godawful rotating pan shots around the main characters, those can die in a fire).
  • Even though a lot of the main actors were terrible, some of the side characters were fucking fantastic. I mean you had Tom Sizemore as the sergeant to Affleck and Hartnett. Alec Baldwin as Major Doolittle. Jennifer Garner in a random background role as one of the nurses! Plus two of my favorite character actors ever, Michael Shannon as Gooz and Kim Coates as Lieutenant Richards. This movie should have been good.
  • The score! I mean, this movie was scored by Hans fucking Zimmer! If that isn’t getting you amped up, I don’t know how to help you.

1 comment

  1. I watched with with an old gf and her family. During the bombing scenes she just kept saying “oh no, oh my gosh, this is so terrible.” Her brother yelled at her to shut up and called her dumb for not knowing what the movie was about.


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