Just in time to cash in on ”Pearl Harbor” fever, the stolidly epic Tora! Tora! Tora! is already getting its second reissue of the DVD era. The extras on this ”Special Edition” include a short documentary, commentary by director Richard Fleischer, and digitally remastered sound — but the disc’s best feature is still its letterboxed format. Even before the attack begins, the film glories in its Panavision sweep, from its full length shots of battleships at sea to its artfully composed formations of Japanese fighter planes swooping over lush Hawaiian valleys.
This has always been a purist’s Pearl Harbor movie: While so many have focused on love stories and melodrama, this one, told from both the American and Japanese points of view, soberly sticks to its docudramatic guns. Even the heat of battle is viewed from an objective distance. But in this age of in your face special effects, it’s actually refreshing when the propeller from an exploding plane doesn’t fly straight at the camera lens. Somehow, that lack of action movie flash enhances the illusion that this is the real deal.