Director Michael Bay has tried to do it all---a romance for the girls with not one but two gorgeous heroes, and enough body-throwing, ship-sinking explosions to keep any guy glued to his seat--all this in only three hours.
Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and his best friend Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) are swept up in the frenzy that precedes WWII. As ace pilots, they are invaluable American assets and of particular interest to navy nurse, Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale). But three's a crowd when it comes to love and that causes some not-so-friendly fire between the childhood buddies. Fortunately Evelyn's dilemma (and the love story) is postponed while the US Navy deals with a surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For a good forty minutes, air bombers, shellfire and torpedo assaults wreak havoc on the Hawaiian paradise and send military personnel scrambling to contain the damage.
While the intense war violence includes spurting blood, burned bodies and drowning soldiers, Bay keeps a relative check on the gory details. But he gives us plenty of implied sexual encounters between the soldiers and nurses, and one carefully draped scene on the floor of the parachute hanger. Meanwhile, the film also promotes the notion that love comes only to the beautiful, and despite the unquestionable men to women ration favoring the nurses; only Evelyn wins at the game of undying romance. With an added heavy shot of profanity, this movie has a PG-13 rating that parents should heed.
To lend depth and reality to the film, the director includes portrayals of real life war heroes, Doris "Dorie" Miller--the first Black American to receive the Navy Cross, and Lt. Col James Doolittle who led the retaliatory attack on Tokyo, as well as showing viewers some little known facts about the raid and it's aftermath.
But that doesn't make it a reliable study guide for your next history test. Rather, Pearl Harbor is an ambitious attempt to honor the young men and women who heroically fought a battle they didn't start and to give us a feel for the events of December 7, 1941.