Back in the Age of Darkness (that would be B.B.M.T. by the Stallonian Calendar), Patrick and tried out a few ways to keep connected through long distance film watching. One such effort was essentially what we have in the Chain Reaction. We went back and forth giving each other movies to watch using connections made through the cast of the films. I recall almost none of the films we watched, but I do remember volleying it back to Patrick with Pearl Harbor. He reacted with horrified anger and I think he shot back a real doozy at me, which quickly led the venture into a death spiral. Fortunately we are much more mature than we were back then and BMT will survive this venture into the Bayverse.
To keep it short, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett are best buds 4 life. They were born to fly and boy howdy do they. Just when Affleck finds his (other) true love in Kate Beckinsale, he’s informed that he’s getting into the action in the RAF. Hartnett is devastated (oh and Beckinsale, too). We see Affleck fly, earn everyone’s respect, and then crash into the ocean. Hartnett is even more devastated (oh and Beckinsale, too). Now both stationed in Pearl Harbor, they run into each other’s arms in their grief. Hartnett is super into it. Beckinsale is more conflicted, but ultimately they make sweet, sad love. Thrilled at this turn of events, Hartnett is super in love and Beckinsale is all like “sure, why not?” Well, maybe because Affleck is back, Jack! That’s right, he survived that ocean crash and has come back for his babe. He quickly catches wind of what’s up and is less than thrilled. He and Hartnett duke it out, but ultimately reach a truce of sorts just as Japan starts the titular attack on Pearl Harbor. Explosions galore as we witness a true feat of filmmaking. After the attack dies down the US plans the Doolittle Raid and guess who’s top of the list? Our boys. The Doolittle Raid is dope and so are Affleck and Hartnett who agree to let bygones be bygones for the good of the mission. They complete the raid and race to mainland China for rescue. There they crash and are captured by Japanese soldiers. Things go sideways and Hartnett sacrifices himself for Affleck and the rest of his crew. As he dies in Affleck’s arms he learns that Beckinsale is going to have his baby. Affleck and Beckinsale get back together and raise Hartnett’s son together and it’s beautiful and we cried. THE END.
I think Pearl Harbor would have rocked for real if they stripped almost everything but the love story. Follow your tagline, bros. You said it right, moments change history, but love changes lives. Make that the focus and a way to frame the actual events. Guess what people don’t love? Interrupting your dramatic love war story to watch Dan Akyroyd sweat out trying to convince Jon Voight that an attack is imminent. Tend to that love story and it will deliver you to drama that the overarching events deserve. Make it more like a classic story and less like a substitute teacher is scrambling for something to throw on the TV in history class. You can also probably tell the story in 2 hours that way. Only problem with my hypothesis is that I really dig the Doolittle Raid, which takes up a lot of time. So Maybe it’s still 3 hours, but you just have a better developed love story. As it is, the film struggles badly at points, but to me it is such an impressive feat of filmmaking that I’m willing to overlook most of that. I think it’s actually a bit underrated. Now it would be like Greyhound or Midway and feel like it was generated on a computer (which it would be). As for Slipstream, I kind of liked it. I expected cheapo trash, but there was real effort and care in the film, and it was actually kind of interesting. It ultimately seemed to suffer more from an inability to get it released so it could recoup even a little bit of the cost. Basically no one got to see it and it slipped into obscurity. It feels a little like Willow. If you caught it at the right time I bet you’d grow up being like “I used to watch this film about a robot and gliders and it was kind of cool,” but no one would know what you are talking about and they’d never make a Disney+ show about it.
Hot Take Clam Bake! Beckinsale should have ended up with Red. First of all, Affleck… kind of a dick. He’s all in love with Beckinsale but is immediately out of there at the faintest whiff of combat. Heroes are fun and sexy, but also crash a bunch (and crash Affleck did, multiple times). Not a great prospect. Second of all, Hartnett is a total weenie. I forgot how little his character does other than be all meek and mumbly. I faintly recall thinking that Beckinsale and him should have ended up together when I first watched the film. Nah, she doesn’t even really seem all that into him even after their sad lovemaking. Finally, Red seems like he’s got swag, man. Like he’s all gawky and weird looking and has a stutter but pulls one of the cutest girls around. He’s always ready for a party and everyone loves him. I’m shipping it. Beckinsale and Red forever, baby. Hot Take Temperature: Blazin’. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Pearl Harbor? More like Love Triangle, amirite? Yeah, that sounds about right. Let’s go!
- I decided, since I’ve seen this film a few times, to watch it a bit differently. I cut it into 30 minute chunks and watched it how it was originally intended (I assume). As a mini-series.
- Episode 1: We get a bit of backstory for our main heroes, Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett, involving them as kids. Ben Affleck is a bit of a hotshot, and volunteers to go to England to see some real action, but not before he falls in love and then smirks on a train saying “she loves me.” They are shipped off to Pearl Harbor / England. Grade: A, it actually is a good opening, I like all the people in it.
- Episode 2: Ben Affleck is still a hot shot … but also “dies”. Everyone is real sad in Pearl Harbor … but also Hartnett is falling in love and things are getting a tad bit triangular. Meanwhile, Japan is planning to blow up Pearl Harbor and US Intelligence is like “dang, if only I were a bit more intelligent I would be able to figure out what Japan is going to do.” Grade: C, boring and mostly filler. Needed more actual action in Pearl Harbor.
- Episode 3 gets a bit weird. You either have to cut it short, or you go to about when Affleck and Harnett wake up and realize the attack has begun. I think the latter makes the most sense. Affleck comes back, there is a lot of drama, and you see the beginning of the attack (but prior to the realization that it is an attack for most people). Grade: B, good set up and you get to see some action.
- Episode 4 is obviously the big attack sequence and it is pretty incredible. Huge set pieces, pretty brutal, and culminates in the sweet dogfighting action. You can go right up until the Japanese decide to pull back the third wave and leave the quiet aftermath to Episode 5. Grade: A+, this is where the show would really shine and leave people wondering why the show is 6 episodes instead of 5 with this being the penultimate kicker of the bunch.
- Episode 5 is the aftermath, but mostly about putting together the Doolittle Raid. Incredible. Just 25 minutes of them being like “we want skinny ladies, these ladies are fat” and stripping parts off of planes. The repeat of “we are going to win this war because there is something special about these American boys” from episode 2 is also fun. Grade: A. I like all the details about Doolittle and how crazy it was. It could have been a movie by itself.
- Episode 6, the finale which is mostly just the Doolittle raid, and then Ben Affleck crying for 20 minutes. Pretty exciting stuff, even if it is a bit confusing that five Americans seemingly shoot and kill 40 Japanese soldiers in China to escape. B, exciting, but also a tad bit confusing as to the point? I guess it is because Pearl Harbor is actually kind of a downer, so they needed a solid American victory to put a proper button on the film.
- So here’s the thing. Grades: A, C, B, A+, A, B. That uh … is a good movie? What’s bad about it again? Oh yeah, the C is actually an F if you watch the film straight through and it is way too long for one sitting. Michael Bay, release the Bay Cut mini-series, apparently it makes it better.
- I’m going for Product Placement (What?) for Coca-Cola which is where they store blood in one sequence. In reality it is more like product placement for America itself, which is Bay’s MO. An A+ Setting (Where?) for Pearl Harbor. And a Specific Date (When?) for it all set around the date that will live in infamy, December 7th, 1941. In the end I’m doing it, this is a Good movie, it gets you going.
- To go with Pearl Harbor we went hunting for another film about flying and found Slipstream, a very straightforward film set in a dystopian future where there is a stream of high wind that people ride on and everyone lives as nomads or in bunkers. It stars Mark Hamill as the main villain, and he’s great. The story is very weird, involving a robot who wants to go and find other robots to live with, and the consequences of that. It is definitely one of those films where you can tell whoever wrote or produced it was really into ultra lightweight flying and gliding and used this movie as an excuse to film a bunch of totally awesome shots of totally rad airplanes. He must have loved it. If you want an example of how Hamill’s career really turned sideways, this is as good as any, but it is a bit of a downer and feels really “60s British” (if you know what that means). B- I think.
Did you know they made a television movie sequel to the Pearl Harbor Mini-series? Yeah, it was called Pearl Harbor 2: The Manchurian Candidate, you can read about it in the Quiz. Cheerios,