Casting Pearls Before Swine
As a giant mantis I take great delight in watching you pathetic humans slowly destroy each other, and so it was that I went to see Pearl Harbour, the latest incredibly accurate and unbiased warmongering effort from Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael 'Armaggedon' Bay.
The film starts, then continues for what seems like about a month introducing us to the fascinating and completely original/realistic/heart warming love triangle between Ben Afflicted, Josh 'you're not Matt Damon' Hartnett - and some bird or other. These three characters, who are self-evidently destined to fall in love with one another because they all share a unique and intense blandness that is simply beyond description, live far far away from pearl harbour to begin with - just far enough away in fact for absolutely nothing to happen of interest for about the first hour. Instead of relating anything which pertains in the slightest to the war for said hour, we instead have to sit through these three hacks drawl through the most tedious recycled TV love story I have ever EVER had the misfortune to force myself through, and we learn the following.
- Ben Affleck is Jesus. Jerry obviously decided that Nick Cage was to unrealistic for the 'gritty realism' he obviously was almost bothering to go for.
- Ben and Josh both love the same woman and Ben, who is going to war, is self evidently going to tragically die so that Josh can move in, then Ben is going to return from the dead (you know, like Jesus) and want his woman back, so then Josh will tragically die.
- It is going to take about three hours to relate this sordid little tale.
"Hey Jerry, isn't this fucking movie about something?"
"Oh yeah. I forgot"
So EVENTUALLY we get to Pearl Harbour, which the Japanese have obviously decided is tactically unwise to attack until Ben, Josh and the woman are all arguing with each other and are in need of a good honest slaughter to unite them in arms.
Then we cut to the Death Star.
I'm not kidding. After an hour of absolutely no background to the events leading up to Pearl Harbour we suddenly shift to Japan, who appear to be in a completely different film - one with much higher shutter speeds, desaturated high contrast stock and lots and lots of blue. The Japanese don't have love affairs, don't have families, in fact they are not even human. All the Japanese do all day, apparently, is sit around having slightly backwards medieval outdoor versions of that old staple - the evil boardroom meeting. They cant even afford real maps. I guess that's what separates 'us' from 'them'. We have planes, they have planes. But at least we have roofs!
'You're far too trusting'
'Aalderan is peaceful'
'That thing's operational'
A little known fact about Pearl Harbour is that when on a direct approach to it from the air, the first things one flies past are some boy scouts, a cruciform washing line, a child's baseball game and some harmless gambling. Then, and only then, do you get to blow stuff up.
The pearl harbour attack sequence lasts about half an hour, during this half hour we are treated to previously unfilmable aspects of the attack through CG manipulation, and experience the true horror of war. You can tell it is the true horror of war because it looks like E.R. Unfortunately, while Saving Ryan Stiles (which we are clearly going for here) opened with a solid half hour onslaught of brutal relentless realities that left you breathless until it finally ended and the rest of the shitty film started, this film chooses to mix the outright bullshit together with the 'cinema verite' crap to form a sort of uneven lumpy mulsh that needs a bloody good stir before you can even think about ingesting it. Yes boats are upturned, yes people are thrown from explosions and impaled on rudders - but the fucking dog lives doesn't it. They didn't even introduce the dog. It wasn't even a 'character' dog. But it fucking well lived didn't it?!
The true atrocity is that the Japanese bombed a largely civilian harbour, and not a largely uncivilized bay - namely Michael Bay. Not satisfied with having made the whole of Armageddon using ONLY arc-dolley shots, he seems to have a decision here that every third shot of the film should be a bouncy c.u of the bridge of Ben Affleck's nose. Another little known fact about the attack on Pearl Harbour, is that is was done using little round explosions. You know, the sort people run away from in slow motion, the sort with no back draft, the sort that up turn cars like in The A-Team. It also relied heavily on Japanese pilots flying very close to the ground relentlessly and individually pursuing main characters both on foot and in jeeps. These are the truths that this important film reveals. Another thing the film highlights is the hideous conditions under which military nurses and doctors had to work. Did you know that these brave women had to put up with not only over-zealous shaky camera movements, but the random application of smudgy Kate Bush video style effects getting in the way of their already poignant work?
Eventually our colourful heroes manage to get the last of the planes in to the air, along with their Top Gun team of rag tag ragamuffins. These include Spud off Trainspotting and a character called Goose (you know, like in Top Gun). Josh and Ben, so we are told, shoot down seven of only twenty Japanese planes shot down at Pearl Harbour. Somewhere in the world are seven pissed off veterans. An eighth plane is shot down by Cuba Gooding Jr, the combination token black guy/boxer/ships chef.
Finally the Japanese get bored and go home.
'Congratulations" says a Japanese officer to Governor Tarkin.
'I fear we have only awakened a sleeping giant" he replies. This signals not only one of many pathetic attempts at Tora Tora Tora-ism, but of the turning point at which the true purpose of this film is revealed - to justify, at every level, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But not before some more love triangle tedium.
Everyone settles their differences, which we are apparently still meant to give a blind fuck about, and then the film is allowed to get on with itself (even though it should have ended by now. Its not called 'Pearl Harbour and Then Some Other Stuff' )
This is the best part of the film by far: Picture this. President Roosevelt has just announced to the American Public the truth about this horrific deceitful and unpropogated attack upon American soil (which had nothing to do with being in the middle of a fucking world war, or America having a stranglehold on supplies to Japan - oh no siree bob.) and has called a board meeting - not an evil board meeting mind you, oh no - one of those lovely ones. Systematically, everyone in the room, in turn, (including Dan Akroyd) explains from a naval, a military, a financial, a political and a tactical perspective why there is no practical way to launch a similar attack on Japan. What they are leading up to is the 1942 bombing run on mainland Japan, but what they are ACTUALLY talking about is why there is no choice but to nuke the fuckers. Twice. In fact almost every line from this point on the film begs to be topped off with the phrase '...so were gonna nuke the fuckers, twice'. Eisenhower sits before his defeated generals and declares, as God is his witness, that he will find a way of beating the Japs - and promptly rises from his wheelchair liked a cured leper.
Yes, thats right, Hiroshima was endorsed by God.
Anyway, we cant nuke them now, we have 1942 (the year, not the film) to get on with yet, and we haven't had the best line yet.
"Mr President. This man has an idea of how we can bomb the Japanese!"
The Americans decide that as the Japanese attacked one of their pacific outposts, also a key tactical target and naval base, in the middle of a fucking war (not to justify it, but there is such a thing as perspective) - that it is only fair if they get to bomb TOKYO! And so they do, lead by some Baldwin or other (ironically the first American target to be bombed in the Southpark Movie). The difference between the attacks on Pearl Harbour and Tokyo respectively, the film is keen to point out, is that while the former was a sneaky underhanded, but prolonged and harrowing attack upon real people with loves and lives and identities, the latter was a justified and bloody clever attack upon some faceless little worker ants miles away down there on the deathstar surface that took all of three seconds. It is also important to note that the adorning of bombs with rude messages and sarcastic comments is not, as you might think, incredibly distasteful and sick - but in fact both big and quite decidedly clever.
So anyway, our 'heroes' crash land in China and Josh finally gets around to tragically dying (who knew that would happen) but not before he is symbolically crucified upon a yoke by his Japanese captors. The fact that they are rescued by the Chinese is conveniently washed over by a short montage - and every one lives happily ever after, but not before that sanctimonious girlfriend of theirs gives a self important and horrificaly inaccurate account of the events thereafter. Pearl Harbour was Americas first defeat in the war, we are informed, but after the Tokyo bombing was a string of absolute victories that made the Japanese realise that they could never win. Funny that, I could have sworn that the Americans just spent the next four years running head first like a bull in a china shop, to no particular avail, while the Japanese continued to fight like stubborn bastards until the yanks nuked them. Twice.
If only they could have nuked them in 'Nam. But that's not the point is it? The point is that Jesus and Mary live happily ever after with other Jesus' flower sniffing love child, and fly off into the sunset in that fucking cropduster off Independence Day, which in the great scheme of things is what's really important.
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