ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  michael bay

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  183 minutes

RELEASED  -  25 may 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  pearl harbor

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $152,700,000
pearl harbor - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from pearl harbor at

buy the dvd from pearl harbor at

a love triangle develops between two WWII pilots and a nurse surrounding the time of the attack on pearl harbor.

the script was originally called "tennessee", and was sold to disney for approximately $2 million.


picture from pearl harbor

picture from pearl harbor

picture from pearl harbor


two out of four possible stars

So I went to this movie expecting Armageddon 2, and I have to say, that's exactly what I got. A disjointed story of love and war (instead of love and asteroids). But the love triangle between Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, and Josh Hartnett is not really connected to the events of world war two. But hey, at least Armageddon was fun. The filmmakers of pearl harbor take the audience on an hour-long journey into the personal lives of these characters and then dump the love story for another hour-long battle scene where pearl harbor is bombed.

And then we're treated to a third hour of more love and more war. And it must be said that too much time was spent on both stories. And although the time spent on the actual bombing was the most interesting in the film, the love story dragged on for quite some time before that. Everyone in this film was absolutely beautiful. All three lead characters look like they should be on a Ralph Lauren advertisement. But none of the actors looked like they had enough depth placed into their characters. Kate Beckinsale, who plays "Evelyn Johnson," has a group of about five friends who are military nurses and although the period costumes seem to be right on the mark, all of the people seem to be a little too perfect.

And this too "perfect-ness" applies to just about everyone in the film. It's hard to imagine these people having lived in the 1940's. It's like they were plucked from today and dropped into the war with a time machine. All the people seemed staged and unrealistic (the people anyway). Perhaps it seemed this way because of Ben Affleck's poor attempt at a Southern accent. It just didn't seem natural. And his character seemed exactly the same as the character he played in Armageddon. He had to leave the girl he loved for war (instead of an asteroid).

And the Southern accent he put on just didn't do the job. It was really easy to tell that the accent wasn't his real accent. But the actor who upstaged Affleck was Josh Hartnett. Not only was Hartnett's accent not forced, but also the acting in his scenes seemed to be a lot less unnatural. His interaction with the other characters made me believe that he was a real military pilot and not just some actor reading lines. Although Ben Affleck probably doesn't get as much respect for his acting as he should, he was nonetheless overshadowed by Josh Hartnett's performance.

A character that seemed just thrown in there though was that of Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays the requisite minority character who beats the odds he's stacked against. And although gooding's performance was one of the best in the film, I felt that his story just kind of seemed to be thrown in there into the fray with no connection to the main story. I mean, sure, there are is one scene where Kate, as a nurse, tends to some wounds Gooding's character receives, but other than that, his character wasn't connected to the story at all. And this is unfortunate, because his performance deserved more screen time than it received.

Jon Voight plays President Roosevelt in this film and two things were bothersome. The first was his makeup. Roosevelt had a very distinctive face and chin, but it seemed as though the only make-up applied to Voight's face was around his chin. It was like he had a chin beard on or something, and the rest of his face just looked like John Voight. The other thing that really bothered me about Voight's character was how the filmmakers make it look like FDR didn't know about the impending bombing raid on Pearl Harbor. At the very least, they could have made Roosevelt seem a little bit more involved and knowledgeable. It is common knowledge that Roosevelt wanted the United States to enter the War, and Congress didn't. In Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt is made out to be handicapped not only physically, but also mentally.

There was something quite xenophobic about the "we've got to get the japanese" idea present in this film. I realize that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and killed three thousand people, but what I don't know is why. The film shows only a few scenes with the Japanese officers and soldiers (all dressed in black . . .) where the admiral spouts some Asian wisdom, but there's really no information about the Japanese themselves. It's like some of the story is missing. What did the Japanese go through during World War II?

Conflicts in actual history aside, the acting displayed by Dan Aykroyd, who plays "Captain Thurman," one of the government people in the code-breakers department, cannot be overlooked. In his performance, he his able to show how muddled the government in Washington sometimes was during the war. Aykroyd was convincing in the mostly dramatic role, but was pragmatic as well, bringing a sense of realism to the film.

But probably the best part of the film were the special effects. It was hard to tell what ships and planes were real and which were not. This was probably the aim of the filmmakers and special effects people. Ironically, I wasn't even aware of the extent of the special effects until i saw a "making of" special on HBO. And because I was not always aware of the special effects, I have to give this film kudos for doing it exactly right. The point of special effects is not to show the audience that you have special effects, but rather, make the audience believe something that is not real. And I think the filmmakers accomplished this in this film

But because too much information is stuck into the movie (even though it is an ass-wiggling three hours long), the audience never gets an in-depth picture of what the war was really about. It's like the viewer is taken on a three-hour balloon ride at sixty thousand feet. What is possible to see from that height?

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs touchstone pictures 2001
home | archive | ratings | links | photographs | about | contact