|If youre thinking Pearl Harbor, this summers most highly anticipated big-blockbuster, is another Saving Private Ryan, youre sadly mistaken. Private Ryan was an epic war picture, which finally showed movie audiences what World War II veterans had known all along war isnt as glorious as John Wayne and Randolph Scott had led us to believe.
Pearl Harbor is an event that turned out to be just another heavily hyped commercial Disney flick. However, filmgoers can thank the film gods that this Disney offering doesnt have standard Disney sidekicks ready to break out in song and dance at a moments notice.
Reminiscent of Titanic, Pearl Harbor is a cliché-riddled romantic drama which uses a catastrophic historical event as a backdrop. Titanics love story was much better constructed, and audiences cared more about its characters than they will with the ones in Pearl Harbor. But thats not to say that Pearl Harbor is a bad movie. It isnt. Its just another big-budgeted summer movie. And with all the explosions and mayhem, audiences can see where the filmmakers spent the reported $135 million on the re-creation of the attack on Pearl Harbor. So action fans will get their moneys worth.
The storyline follows the lives of two childhood friends (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett), whose dream is to become U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilots. The pair eventually become romantically involved with the same Navy nurse (Kate Beckinsale), and find themselves caught in a love triangle.
Thanks to the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic, studio producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay, the love story takes a back seat to the real star of the movie special effects.
The attack on Pearl Harbor is impressive with buzzing airplanes, vivid explosions of yellow and red balls of fire, and hapless sailors trying in vain to elude the aerial onslaught.
However, it should be noted that for realism nothing beats the grainy black and white footage shown on the history channel or CNBC, but thats not entertainment for summer movie goers.
To protect the box-office, the Disney formula calls for shallow characterizations which are larger-than-life two-dimensional figures that seem more fitting on a Navy recruitment poster. Real life heroes such as "Dorie" Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a Navy cook who witnesses said shot down six attacking Zeros with an anti-aircraft gun, have minimal roles, but are used in the films ad campaign.
The filmmakers, not wanting to exclude paying film audiences in overseas markets, played it safe by painstakingly explaining why the Japanese felt compelled to attack Pearl Harbor. The film is scheduled to open July 14 in Japan and Germany and Disney announced it has reedited the film for those markets.
Pearl Harbor is painted with nostalgia. It conjures up images of patriotism after the attack and reveals the loss of American innocence as young survivors were forced to grow up almost immediately. However, the three-hour movie drags on for an hour after the attack and keeps the audience in fidgety expectation of movie magic that never happens.
Pearl Harbor receipts are currently approaching last years Memorial Day box office champ, Mission Impossible 2 ($183.7 million) with $75.1 million. But its likely that after the hype dies down, teenagers will move onto Planet of The Apes and Tomb Raider and World War II veterans will still regard Saving Private Ryan as "the" epic World War II picture.