| 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,
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
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.