Clocking in at a whopping 183 minutes, the Jerry Bruckheimer produced, Michael Bay directed “Pearl Harbor” is quite a spectacle. This is an ambitious movie that attempts to portray the infamous Japanese surprise attack from many different angles. Its filmmakers clearly tried to make the definitive movie about this landmark event. While its backdrop will turn off cynics, with its gushy romance and American “Greatest Generation” triumphalism, the moving and peerlessly spectacular battle scenes make it a memorable movie.
Bruckheimer, producer of “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “Armageddon” – among other forgettable but profitable films – and his team aimed to make “Pearl Harbor” a war movie that would rise above all other war movies. Like most Bruckheimer films, it is loud, preening and constantly in your face. As it cost $140 million to make, he really wants you to like it and so removes all cussing and controversial portrayals to widen its appeal. Despite some surprisingly good direction from Bay (“The Rock” and “Armageddon”), “Pearl Harbor” lacks the emotional power of “Saving Private Ryan” or the poetic touches of “The Thin Red Line.” At every turn it creates immensity and importance out of sheer production strength, but ultimately allows spectacle to rule the day.
Roughly speaking, “Pearl Harbor” consists of an hour and a half of romantic drama, an hour of war and half an hour devoted to patriotic horn-blowing. The first hour of clich