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Pearl Harbor (PG-13)
Touchstone Pictures
Official Site
Director: Michael Bay
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Written by: Randall Wallace
Cast: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Colm Feore, Dan Aykroyd, Alec Baldwin

Rating: out of 5

Pearl Harbor masterfully blends history, drama, and romance as it reveals the events leading up to, during, and after that date that has lived on in infamy—December 7, 1941.

Rafe McCauley (Affleck) and Danny Walker (Hartnett) are childhood friends from humble beginnings who always dreamt of flying high like the cropdusters in their rural town. This dream becomes reality and these boys become men when they enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps as pilots. We know from the beginning that these two are special. Not only do they possess an unbreakable brother-like bond and a passion for flight, but they also happen to be aces in their field (as evidenced with a control tower fly-by scene à la Top Gun). The dynamic of their relationship even withstands Rafe’s falling in love with U.S. Navy nurse Evelyn Stewart (Beckinsale).

It seems as if nothing can bring the friends down until Rafe becomes involved in the war effort for Britain. He leaves his best friend and girlfriend behind and ventures into a world of dangerous unknowns with life-or-death consequences. As the war escalates the fates of Rafe, Daniel, and Evelyn lie in the hands of the warring nations. Confronted with the brutality of war, each is forced to cope with nightmarish situations—situations that will affect their lives forever.

The story unfolds in just over three hours, but I dare you to look at your watch or even think about getting up to go to the bathroom. You won’t want to miss a thing; the intensity of this film endures from beginning to end. Pearl Harbor is one of those rare films that so mesmerizes the audience that, despite the length, people are not quick to get up and leave as soon as the credits role. The film serves as a vivid reminder of horrific events in the none-too-distant past—a reminder that takes some time to process and appreciate before even thinking of exiting the theatre.

The acting is superb, the directing is imaginative, and the special effects are breathtaking, but perhaps the most exceptional aspect of the film is the script. With phenomenal successes like Braveheart under his belt, screenwriter Randall Wallace obviously knows what he’s doing. Though Pearl Harbor has already been compared to the widely successful historical epic Titanic, I do not feel that this is a fair comparison due to the superior quality of the Pearl Harbor script. My reasoning is simple—cheese. If there’s one thing I absolutely cannot stand it’s when an otherwise wonderful film is littered with cheesy lines and situations. Instead of using cheese to substitute for imagination and innovation, Wallace takes the high road and produces a virtually cheese-free script.

With all of the hype surrounding Pearl Harbor, I will be the first to admit that I was more than a bit wary going into the film. I expected it to be like that saying about guys who drive sports cars, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Unlike the saying, the hype surrounding Pearl Harbor was not making up for a lack in some area of the film. I went in expecting the worst and was gladly proved wrong. Pearl Harbor is one cinematic experience that should not be missed.

—K. Theis

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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