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PEARL HARBOR luster rusting'

Hey folks, Harry here and while Michael Bay's opening weekend seems assured... The movie tracking at near total awareness across the United States... Well, the word from the screenings is MIXED at best with a leaning towards negative... a pretty serious leaning. Everybody is blown away by the spectacle, but the problem most seem to be having is in the script and the performances of the leads... I see it tonight... I don't want to not like the film, but some of the problems I'm hearing... well they sound like problems, not opinions... We'll see though... to each his own eh?

You know, 200 million can do a lot of good in the world. It could feed thousands of starving people. It can go towards cancer research. It can go towards AIDS medicine in Africa. Schools can be built to help young minds grow. It can also be thrown into the toilet that is the three hour P.O.S. known as "Pearl Harbor". Let me get right to the point. This thing sucks.

Watching the screening of it on Tuesday night at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, I was crossing my fingers, hoping that something good was ahead of me. No such luck.

The movie is basically "From Hear To Eternity" by way of "Tora, Tora, Tora" by way of "Armageddon" by way of "Top Gun" by way of "Saving Private Ryan" by way of a Pepsi Commercial by way of "Mars Attacks" by way of a Hallmark Commercial/LDS infomercial put into an MTV blender and put on puree. Let us not forget the dialogue courtesy of Webster's Big Book of Clichés. Cuba Gooding Jr. wanders around this film making the best he can out of the material but he is useless. Ben Affleck wonders around looking heroic. The rest of the cast just walks around in stock Michael Bay slow motion while every other shot hast to have a GRAAAAND CRANE or DOLLY and LOOOTS OF SMOOOKE.

Don't get me wrong, the thing is going to kill at the box office thanks to the marketing slaughter. But it will not get the repeat business that "Titanic" did. Mostly because we could give a rats ass about any of the characters, where as "Titanic" had a story with people we could care about. This just gets so cheese-ball and sappy (especially the first nine hours or so) that I was ready to split. When the fireworks finally go off, then I must say, it's mighty spectacular. But after a wile I just becomes the same old stuff. Even explosions can run thin after a while.

All I can say is that it's sad that this movie was made at all. With the recourses available to the people who made this film and this is what we get. Michael Bay may be thinking he is making something greater than "Private Ryan" but all we get is three hours of the animal-cracker-in-the-panty scene from "Armageddon". It's obvious that the guy can not tell a story, that he needs BIIIGGGGG explosions to get his point across. Think I'm wrong? Put this same story in the hands of a Soderberg or Scorsese or a master who understands that there are moments to be loud, and moments to be subtle. Where here, even the subtle moments ARE GRAAAAND!!!! Or let's see Bay try his hand at a film that has a 5 million dollar budget, a story where he can't blow anything up. For get it.

Just as a special not to the folks who made this film as you read this, which I know you will: Do us a favor and try to tell a story instead of thinking you are going to win an Academy award because you are sinking more ships that Cameron and blowing up more stuff than Spielberg. You will get no where near an Academy award with this one, save for best sound. All you are doing is having a pissing contest with your selves. And it shows. Yes you will have a good opening weekend or two, but when you don't produce the numbers you thought you would just remember why: Story is still everything, no mater how much stuff you blow up.


Next we have RH...

in the interest of fairness, i have to say the preview to this film is the best thing i've seen all year and i started to realize i was going to be disappointed long before the film began.

that said, i just got back from a screening and... well... i told me so.

like all michael bay/jerry bruckheimer productions, this is an amazingly striking movie visually with some sort of script slapped onto it as an afterthought. i was completely blown away with the camera angles, the lighting, the cinematography, even the sound. michael bay understands that film is an immersive genre and it can be a sensory experience. the battle scenes in this film are some of the most impressive feats of special effects i can recall and evoke the thrill of top gun in terms of sheer grit and realism.

the problem here is the script. apparently the writers strike started early on this film. the love triangle is a mess -- kate beckinsdale is beautiful. her character conflict is her relationships seem to be launched by the first romantic gesture that comes her way. in this case, affleck and harnett both snag her in their good looks and charm and seem to have nothing more to offer but potential abandonment via war. the villians, the japanese, are just a red menace in disguise -- as the film tells it, there was no motivation here for their all out attack on pearl harbor except they thought they could do it. it had no strategic import at all. not even FDR can stir the heart strings this film desperately grasps for and misses repeatedly. you won't believe how corny it is. i'm still shaking my head. i can't tell you how many times i laughed aloud at terrible, cheesy lines that came spouting out of the cardboard characters on screen. the film is a series of genre cliches -- affleck as the fly boy from top gun, the u.s.s. arizona as the titanic, the japanese as unthinking enemies bent on destruction like the aliens from independence day... cuba gooding jr. literally condenses his role in men of honor to about five minutes of screen time.

overall, the best description of this movie i can give you is it's a bimbo -- she's really sexy looking with a great voice but you just don't want to have to pay attention to the inane nonsense coming out of her mouth. the movie, at 3 hours, started to feel like a POW camp after a while. the actual bombing of pearl harbor scenes are almost worth the torture of the other two hours slapped around it. you'd think with $140 mil budget, they could've put together a decent script.


And lest you think the word be all bad... au contraire mon ami, Chains likes it... likes it alot... Read....

Hey Harry,

I caught a screening of Pearl Harbor this morning here in Atlanta, and just wanted to toss in my two cents...

I have to put it in the context of a Bay/Bruckheimer production... meaning that we all know what to expect from those two fellas by now. I liked The Rock & Armageddon, and even kinda dug Bad Boys for it's style and look. But that's what these movies are really all about anyway, right? You have to go in knowing that you aren't going to get the character, reality and emotion of American Beauty or Shawshank Redemption. But Bay movies are some of the most beautiful and visually spectacular I've ever seen. I enjoy them for the "Holy Shit I can't believe what I'm seeing" moments... and I got more than my share of those in Pearl Harbor.

I basically sat there with my jaw to the floor during much of the 40-minute attack sequence. I mean, literally I caught myself saying "Holy F$#%" 3 or 4 times, and dammit, I see a lot of movies and that doesn't happen often. The air battles, the sheer magnitude of the Japanese attack and the devastation on the American fleet was just amazing. And I didn't get lost in what some of Bay's detractors call his "Attention-Deficit-Disorder" style of cutting. It was engaging.

Now the movie's not perfect, and I really wish that some day a director would come along with Bay's visual skills who also cared more about character development... someone who would insist on sharp, original dialogue... but until that day comes, we'll have to enjoy what he brings us. There were actually some pretty emotional moments... I sucked it up and held maybe a tear or two back (I occasionally drop a tear at really powerful war movies... "Glory" being the greatest example), but it's possible to become human during a few spots of this film, and I had to remind myself that it was a Michael Bay movie and I was probably being manipulated.

Oh, and by the way... regarding those parts that were "reminicent" of Titanic, Top Gun, etc... yes, I did notice the similarities, but it didn't really bother me. I mean, ships sink the way they sink... just because people hung on for dear life and slid down the deck of the Titanic as it sank, doesn't mean soldiers didn't do the same when the Arizona went down. I suppose people would be happier if they fell up or sideways, or if the ship found a different way to sink. By nature, this film had to show certain events and situations. If they have been shown in other movies, that sucks... but you can't ignore the sinking fleet simply because you don't want to "copy" Titanic.


Recalling "Glory" makes me think about how great a film like "Pearl Harbor" really could have been. If Hollywood could only trust the public's level of intelligence and capability of understanding and appreciating something a little different, something that takes a risk or two, then we might get a film as emotionally fulfilling as "Glory" with the big-budget grandeur of "Pearl Harbor." But since "Glory" only made $26 million, we'll likely see more films that can guarantee big bucks and appeal to the masses.


Cuba Gooding Jr. was great... underplayed... and I won't say underused as many people have about his role. It was simply a small part. He even shared one of the few truly sincere and sad moments of the movie that I won't spoil for you. He was great. Jon Voight was really good as well... he gave life to some famous historical dialogue that could have been really lame if not treated properly. He rose above the level of acting of the typical summer flick. I really have to add that I loved Dan Akroyd's part, too. He was one of the most believable actors in the film, and treated his part with genuine sincerity. Some of the very best work I've seen from him.

As far as the main characters go... I'd have to say that Kate Beckinsale fared the best. She was impressive, especially during the hospital sequences in the aftermath of the attack. I really wasn't expecting the movie to cover this aspect as much, but she was really touching and handled herself as well as anyone in the entire film. Josh Hartnett seemed to underplay most of his part, and served himself well, too. He used subtle facial expressions, and I grew to like and identify with his character. I've liked Ben Affleck ever since "Mallrats" and refuse to join the masses who hate his work in Bay movies... there's a lot about his personality that I like and that I've seen in my own friends growing up, so when people say that he's always himself or goofy or not-very-believable, I say that's exactly how some guys are in real life. Watching his character in the film, I could really see one of my buddies acting the very same way. And yes, the animal cracker scene in "Armag! eddon" was pretty stupid, but I've done and said stupid shit to my girlfriend, too. I say stupid things precisely because they are stupid to make her laugh, which is how I saw that scene. Damn, film-geeks love to be negative. Ben was likeable... unless he's the kind of guy who beat you up when you were in high school... then I suppose you'd hate him as always.

All in all, this was a hell of a movie... You may even shit yourself a couple times during the big attack sequence. Just don't expect any huge surprises or inspiring dialogue... I don't think we'll ever get that in a big-budget film as long as people throw their money at crap like "The Mummy Returns"... Good Christ, people - can't you tell a bad movie from it's trailer??

I'm tired of writing and you probably won't post this anyway... so I'm outta here. Hope someone finds this helpful.

Overall rating - 8 out of 10


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