Scott Brown
December 07, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Pearl Harbor

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
183 minutes
Wide Release Date
05/25/01
performer
Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin, Ewen Bremner, Jennifer Garner, Cuba Gooding Jr., Catherine Kellner, James King, William Lee Scott, Michael Shannon, Jon Voight, Kevin Weisman, Greg Zola
director
Michael Bay
Producer
Jerry Bruckheimer
Producers
Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Touchstone Pictures
distributor
Buena Vista Pictures
author
Randall Wallace
genre
War, Drama

We gave it a B

Last summer, the only date that lived in infamy (for critics, at least) was the opening of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, a ”serious” event movie correctly dismissed as facile and casually false, both historically and dramatically. Since then, much has changed in America, and Pearl Harbor still isn’t a great film. That’s not to say it isn’t a perfectly serviceable one, with its clean, seamless CGI dogfights and golden-hued ocean horizons, its radiantly irrelevant young-love triangle (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale) catching the light just-so across their polished features.

Yet there’s no denying that Pearl Harbor is a different movie in December than it was in May. Will we ever look at a crop duster the same way again? Do we still crave cinema that anticipates its own carnage in savory slo-mo?

Perhaps, perhaps not. One thing is clear: All of that digital destruction commemorates the close of a blissfully detached era. Pearl was designed to evoke nostalgia for the Greatest Generation; now it’s a memento of the dreamy virtual reality of late-20th-century America. The terrorist attacks drew two instant comparisons: Pearl Harbor and a Hollywood blockbuster. Here they are, packaged together, in a time capsule dated Sept. 10.

WHAT WE SAID THEN: ”It may be the squarest event movie in years.” (#598, June 1, 2001) B-

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