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Pearl Harbor

Year: 2001
Production Co: Bruckheimer Pictures
Studio: Touchstone
Director: Michael Bay
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Writer: Randall Wallace
Cast: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Tom Sizemore, Cuba Gooding Jr, John Voight, Alec Baldwin, William Fichtner, Jennifer Garner
The focus of the anti-blockbuster backlash currently sweeping the world, where it's cool to hate movies that are too big, too lavish, too simplistic and too full of effects - the kind of thing that started with Independence Day and got bigger from there.

Yes, it was a Disney version of history. Yes, it had a paper-thin plot. Yes, everyone went to see it for the scenes of destruction and sat through the romantic subplots waiting for them.

But it's hard not to get caught up in the spectacle of something huge - and the hackneyed concept of movie magic really does come to life.

Friends since childhood Danny (Hartnett) and Rafe (Affleck) get shipped off to war, Hartnett to sunny, peaceful Hawaii, Affleck to war torn Europe where he's promptly shot down in the English Channel, leaving the way open for Danny to move on his nurse girlfriend (Beckinsale).

After half an hour of romantic soul searching and music-video shagging in a hangar full of parachutes, Affleck's character returns after being shot down, rescued and hiding from the Nazis in France.

Everything is set up for them to be sleeping in the car at the base when the Japanese launch their dawn attack on the combined US fleet, and the real star of the show appears.

An incredible show of seamless digital effects, enormous sets, pyrotechnics and excellent photography ensues as the Japanese decimate the fleet.

Then, the show's over. As psychological revenge against ghosts that still haunt Americans, the film contains a completely tacked on half-hour detailing a (probably half-fictional) retaliatory attack on Japan by The Guys. The opportunity is taken to highlight America's genius at making war by having the planes carry out their raid and have to ditch in China.

Some big names almost fade into the background in a movie full of plots and subplots. Affleck and Hartnett are teenage girls dreams, the exception is John Voight, who is uncanny as FDR much as he was as Howard Cosell in Ali.

Sappy romance, only half an hour worth watching and failed intentions (even Ben Affleck has said he's not happy with what it turned out to be), and the end of Michael Bay's credibility (already shaky after Armageddon) have come to characterise the Hollywood blockbuster. It's unlikely to die but continually reinvent itself as Hollywood marketing managers bust themselves to stay ahead of what the kids think is cool.

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