Pearl Harbour

Pearl Harbour is an obscenely bad film about the Japanese attack on Hawaii which forced America into the Second World War. This is a soulless Hollywood blockbuster with appalling acting, a cringe inducing script and a misplaced nationalistic sentimentality which director Michael Bay rams down your throat forcibly.

We kick off on the farm of middle-America to establish the best friend relationship between the two heroes. Immediately the cliches kick in and they don´t let up. Fast forward and the two boys are all grown up and they´ve become pilots together. Ben Affleck is the senior partner with Josh Hartnett playing the shy boy. Ben enlists to help out in the Battle of Britain???....while the rest of his country steadfastly ignores the war and gets on with enjoying capitalism, but before he goes he has a day to fall in love with Kate Beckinsale.

Ben and Kate get slushy

Ben goes off and finds out war isn´t quite as fun as he thought. He is reported as dead so Josh quickly moves in on Kate and they get it together. Of course you know what´s going to happen, Ben returns and isn´t too happy about his mate stealing his woman (whom he knew for a day). Anyway there´s no time to be annoyed as the evil Japanese launch their surprise attack on the naval base.

The pace of this overblown nonsense is annoyingly slow. The romantic scenes are so nauseatingly bad.... the laughable script competes with the wooden acting for dominance in the crapulence stakes. When Ben is wooing Kate they actually have dialogue like
"You´re so beautiful it hurts."
"It´s your nose that hurts."
"I think it´s my heart."

You have to sit through an hour and a half of this cheesy garbage to see the actual attack on Pearl Harbour. The battle sequences are impressive enough with expensive and flashy special effects. The Japanese are portrayed as thoroughly evil and Bay makes Hawaii out to be middle-America as the bombers fly in to attack over kids playing baseball, all American girls and guys with not a single Hawaiian in sight.

We get a series of crass death scenes, as Bay makes 3,000 dead look more like 30,000. Huge nets haul corpses from the water and the camera gets blurry as hordes of burned and wounded men writhe around in agony screaming. There’s time for a silly tagged on sequence with Cuba Gooding Jr. as a cook getting angry and suddenly developing combat skills to shoot down a fighter. Naturally things wouldn´t be complete without a sinking American flag wrapped in corpses which Cuba pulls from the water and then cries over.

There are too many things wrong with this sprawling piece of misinformed crap to mention. It is thoroughly predictable with some of the cheesiest dialogue ever written. Bay tries to glorify America in every way he can and his heavy handed attempts at stirring up national pride are ugly. You can also feel the greasy fingers of Jerry Bruckheimer at work here with more high octane excitement to glorify America and her brave military.

Kate and a plane

The acting is really shocking, especially Ben Affleck, who affects a weird accent and seems to be struggling to remember his lines. When he does remember them he delivers them with such careless disregard that it is impossible to find him believable in the admittedly ridiculous role he has been assigned. Even if the acting was good, which it definitely isn´t, the script and direction are easily enough to make this nearly three hours of excruciating torture which no-one should have to endure.

Bay awkwardly throws in the odd old timey newscaster report on the war elsewhere, the war in which millions rather than thousands of people are dying. For the most part he sticks to awful paint by numbers cliches such as the Commander insisting on flying into combat with his men. Of course the film couldn´t end there, it has to end with the Americans wining so the President orders an immediate retaliation on the Japanese. Naturally it has to be a show of strength and our farm boy chums are selected for a glorious attack on the Japanese capital which is actually a foolhardy and desperate suicide mission.

The end of the film is enough to make anyone beg for death. One of our heroes has to die, unfortunately not both, and Josh drew the short straw. An emotional goodbye sees Josh ask Ben to take over and look after Kate and his child to be. Then there´s a stirring speech about how America had suffered but they would overcome, yeah don´t we all know it. Then we have the family back on the farm, the girl switched back to Ben and the kid standing at his Dad´s grave in the back garden with a sunset in the background. All is neatly wrapped up in a horribly contrived way which is liable to induce vomiting.

It defies belief how grindingly obvious and moronic this entire mega-budget production is and it just refuses to die, dragging on for an extended montage of slush. There are some bad films that you may be tempted to see for a laugh but this isn´t one of them, this is one of those films that no-one should ever watch. You have been warned.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

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