Guilty Pleasures: Pearl Harbor
By Shalimar Sahota
August 19, 2010
Directed by - Michael Bay
Written by – Randall Wallace
Starring - Ben Affleck (Rafe McCawley), Josh Hartnett (Danny Walker), Kate Beckinsale (Evelyn Johnson), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Dorie Miller), Tom Sizemore (Earl Sistern), Ewen Bremner (Red Winkle), Jaime King (Betty Bayer), Jon Voight (President Roosevelt), Alec Baldwin (Jimmie Doolittle), Dan Aykroyd (Capt. Thurman)
Length - 184 minutes
Cert – R (Director’s Cut)
We all have our shameful secrets. There are movies out there we shouldn’t really admit to owning, and it’s a heavy burden to carry. However it’s time to get it out in the open and defend our guilty pleasures. You know, a bit like admitting to watching soft toy porn (you could see the stuffing, I tell you).
“The goal of any filmmaker,” says director Michael Bay, “is to produce a work that will have a lasting value through the generations. But Pearl Harbor is a special case.” This comes across as unintentionally hilarious, since for many, Bay’s Pearl Harbor has little value whatsoever.
I’ll say straight out that this is an unusual one, since I originally only viewed Pearl Harbor once when it was released on the big screen nearly a decade ago. The critical response dished out at the time was vicious and years later it received quite an amusing drubbing in Team America. Despite plenty of comparisons, it wasn’t quite the Titanic beater some were expecting when it came to box office, Oscars and eventual film quality. At the time I found it generally passable entertainment. It only happens to be in my collection because I won it in a competition, which already makes for some weak-ass defence. I didn’t get rid of it is because what I won was actually the R-rated Director’s Cut, and a part of me wanted to see how it differed. I just never really got around to watching it… till now. And now that I have… oh dear God.
Pearl Harbor attempts a love story during the time when nations made the leap from peace to all out world war. The film follows two young pilots, Rafe McCawley (Affleck) and Danny Walker (Hartnett), who grow up as the best of friends, spelled out for us when Danny says, “You’re my best friend.” They are now pilots in the US Army Air Corps. While there, Rafe has fallen in love with Evelyn Johnson (Beckinsale), a nurse serving in the US Navy. Predictably, their love has only just begun to bloom when personal destiny intervenes, and Rafe is whisked off to England to help fight the war. At the same time Danny and his fellow pilots, as well as Evelyn and the rest of the nurses, make their way to Hawaii to help at Pearl Harbor.
I don't think I'm giving any spoilers away when we see that Rafe's plane is shot down while in England. On the other side of the world, his best friend Danny brings the bad news to Evelyn. Then in true schmaltzy Hollywood style, they begin to fall in love and decide to get it on! But of course, with Affleck’s name above the title, Rafe isn't dead. He travels to Pearl Harbor and that's when the love triangle between the three begins to get messy! From watching this again, it’s even more apparent that this is pretty banal stuff.