Pearl Harbor

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Never before have I rooted for the Japanese in a Second World War flick. Never before have I so loathed the Allied forces.

If Pearl Harbor is anything to go by then the American Navy was wholly populated by loud, obnoxious morons who spent their days courting empty-headed cunts while drinking and whooping like some thief had come along in the night, scooped out their brains and trampled them under foot. The characters here are morons. Conversely, the Japanese come across as smart, resourceful and composed. They feel no need to hoot and holler, and they don't seem to be secretly ogling male bum cakes like the American characters do. They're entirely more likable. Oh, but what about the British? Well, they enjoy fellating beefy, horse-faced Americans – a British pilot tells Affleck that if the States has more men like him then their enemies should soil themselves. Like I say, the Allied forces in this film are wretched.

But I do have to say that even the glorious Japanese forces have their bad moments. In a politically correct effort to 'humanise' them there's one bit where a Japanese officer melodramatically says that a truly brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war. And there's another bit where a Japanese pilot leans out of his plane and apparently warns some children of the impending carnage. It's an incredibly sappy moment, one that doesn't ring true for a minute. Although I'll change my opinion of said pilot if he was actually taunting the children and saying something like, "I'm going to kill your daddy, Yankee scum."

Another piece of political correctness is the portrayal of Doris Miller (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). In one scene he even holds his white commanding officer while telling him how gosh darn great he his. But perhaps more insulting is the way he indulges in hooting and hollering as he shoots the Japanese down – every American character in this film behaves like they're in the audience for some ghastly sitcom. I mean, it's one thing to have a fictional character act idiotically, but it's something else to belittle the efforts of a real person. And really, the character is totally superfluous. Everyone else in the film has some sort of connection to the parts played by Affleck, Hartnett or Beckinsale, but Gooding exists separately. His inclusion is really just a sad concession to political correctness. His character exists only to prove to stupid right-wing Americans that there were actually black sailors who fought bravely. You know, just in case you're a Grade A moron and thought all the black sailors were hiding below decks eating fried chicken and watermelon.

But far more offensive than the political correctness is the 'romance'. Really, the film is about as romantic as drunken masturbation. There's just not one iota of genuine feeling in the whole movie. And of course the whole thing is completely unbelievable. Oh, some horse-face falls in love, goes to England, is presumed dead, then his girlfriend shacks up with his best friend before horse-face returns, then horse-face's ex-girlfriend finds out she's pregnant with his best friend's child on the day of his resurrection, and then the best friend dies in battle and horse-face and ex-girlfriend shack up again and bring the child up together. Yeah, that sounds plausible.

But although the sequence of events described above is ridiculous, the scenes themselves are far worse. One of the worst is the courtship between Affleck and Beckinsale. She's a nurse, he's a pilot, and she passes him to fly because she thinks he has a cute arse and because he begs her not to take his wings. Then he turns into Inspector Clouseau and smacks his head on things and fires a champagne cork into his face. Somehow this is meant to endear us to him. The only thing I can say in response is that it's a shame it wasn't a gun that equine-features accidentally shot himself with.

However, I wanted to turn the gun on myself when Affleck goes to England and we have to hear Beckinsale write her letters. "Every night I look at the sunset and try and draw the last ounce of heat from its long day and send it from my heart to yours." Somewhere Fabio is nodding his head in approval. But there must be about a million sunsets in this film – Michael Bay has never met a visual cliché he didn't like.

And Beckinsale writes her letters while sitting on a beach in a bikini (with a flower behind her ear) as waves crash on the rocks beyond. How old is Michael Bay exactly? It's like its been directed by a 13-year old girl. And just how white are Beckinsale's teeth? They kept on distracting me. Teeth shouldn't be that white. They shouldn't look like someone's painted gloss on them. But I also hated the way that every establishing shot was some sort of swooping crane shot. Is Bay really that short on ideas? Well…yeah, of course he is.

But what really makes me laugh is the way that Bay has compared this tripe to a David Lean film. Lean made romantic films that didn't make you want to wretch; romantic films that were written and directed with taste and style; romantic films that were literate and intelligent. Bay's film is none of these things. It's an infantile disasterpiece. It's a film where simpletons have teary intercourse in a parachute hanger; a film where two whooping morons almost single-handedly make the Japanese air force retreat; a film where FDR heroically rises to his feet to show what the American heart is capable of; a film where a dying man says he's cold and then symbolically hands his children over to his best pal; and a film where a bimbo with shockingly white teeth says, "Now I'm going to give Danny my whole heart…but I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you." No film has done so much to dishonour the Allied forces. Bay may as well of pissed on their graves.

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