Worth A Look: 13.55%
Pretty Bad: 20.99%
Total Crap: 46.28%
17 reviews, 503 user ratings
by Collin Souter
Rather than write a tirade about the embarrassing stupidity of this movie, I thought I’d share with you the highlights of Michael Bay’s diary chronicling the making of his latest debacle, ‘Pearl Harbor.’ I found this in the same file as the ‘Battlefield Earth’ telephone transcripts between George Lucas and John Travolta, which I reported last year. Enjoy…DAY 1: I woke up from a dream where a bomb falls, but I see it from a bombs point of view. I got up out of bed and wrote it down. Nobody’s ever seen that before.
"Have you purchased your Pearl Harbor Happy Meal yet?"
DAY 3: I tell my friends about the dream. I tell them my idea for the shot. Long silence. One of my artsy-fartsy friends pipes up: “Say, Michael. Have you ever seen ‘Dr. Strangelove?’” I haven’t. Sounds weird. I don’t have time for weird.
DAY 12: ‘Pearl Harbor’ script hits by desktop and my imagination starts rolling. Things blew up at Pearl Harbor. Things blew up real good. I got it in my head to do a 2 ½ hour movie about things blowing up at Pearl Harbor.
DAY 15: (Producer) Jerry Bruckheimer tells me, “No, we can’t do 2 ½ hours of things blowing up.” I defended, “Well, we could, actually. See, here’s what I’m thinking: ‘Titanic.’ Huh? Over a billion dollars worldwide. Three hours…love story…human tragedy…only nothing blew up. WE can blow things up!” I called (screenwriter) Randall Wallace and told him, “Rando! Pump up the love story, throw in some historical stuff with generals and write a part for a black guy. Keep it young. Young, urban and not too technical. Dumb it down. Leave no demographic unturned.”
DAY 97: Disney agrees to $135 million budget. I told them, “If critics ask, tell them we’re making a love story.” They shouted back, “We’re not shelling out $135 million for a love story! Have the beau-hunks! Have the cute nurses! But you sure as hell better show some fires-a-blazing and bombs-a-fallin!!! Pearl Harbor better be ready for the summer popcorn kids who’ll be out of school. We’re going up against the ‘Mummy’ sequel, for Christ sakes!!!”
DAY 98: Casting. Somebody suggested hiring a guy named Benny Fleck. Never heard of him. “Who’s gonna play the chick?” someone asked. I hadn’t thought of that. Cameron had Kate Winslet, whom nobody ever heard of. So I thought, ‘let’s get another somewhat obscure art-house non-American actress named Kate and see what happens.’ To make a long story short, we got Benny Fleck and Kate Beckenslavage, or something like that.
DAY 98 PART 2: Ben Affleck and Kate Beckensale. This may be the hardest movie I’ll ever make.
DAY 120: First day of shooting. I lined up my cast and crew and basically re-created the first 10 minutes of ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ the only part of any Stanley Kubrick movie I’ve ever seen. I gave them the usual speech about how I love to kill people when working on the set. I love to take people and crack their spines over my knee like firewood. I’m a bit of a tyrant. If you second-guess my directing, suggest re-writing a scene or try to play the part of ‘Technical Advisor’ by telling me something is not historically accurate, I will take out my pistol and blow a hole clean through your insides. But the method works because all my movies are box office hits.
DAY 121: I killed 17 people today. Production resumed as usual. I brought in some giggly teenage girls to get their approval on the beau-hunks we hired. They definitely like Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck and, well, that’s good enough for me. They don’t need to act well. They just need to look the part. I’m told that I shouldn’t put any scratches or bruises on their faces no matter how many battles or combat sequences they go through. I agree. Let’s keep them pretty.
DAY 137: We try our first love scene. In the scene, Ben has his nose bandaged up from some accident. He looks up at her and says: “You’re so beautiful it hurts.” She says, “It’s your nose that hurts.” “I think it’s my heart, “ he replies. One take. Cut. Next shot. Some of the crew members were laughing. I had them executed the next day.
DAY 148: Ben and I did some re-working of the dialogue. We thought we should express something deep about his character. Since he won an Academy Award for “Hunting Willy,” I thought he would be a good guy to ask about good dialogue. So, we put our heads together and came up with, “I’m not anxious to die. I’m anxious to matter.” Eat your heart out, Mamet!
DAY 155: We added in some wacky supporting characters and some horny nurses for Kate Beckensale to hang around with. We also added a character who stutters. I thought, ‘Oooo, if we have somebody with a handicap, we can kill off his love interest before the 3rd act. That’s how you win audience sympathy.’ I am SO on a roll with this.
DAY 160: We blew up stuff today. Lots of stuff. I downed a shot of Saki after every shot. At the last minute, we wrote in a part for Cuba Gooding Jr. It turns out, the character actually existed in real life. He was a Navy cook who blew up some planes. Kind of like Steven Segal in “Under Siege.” I love that movie.
DAY 170: Blew up more stuff today. I strangled my cinematographer and managed to keep it out of the press. All in a day’s work.
DAY 175: I love the smell of blowing things up in the morning.
DAY 177: I decided to blow up my car. I left it in the parking lot next to Ben Fleck’s. I blew his up too. He was mad at first, but then I told him, ‘Just wait. This movie’s going to be HUGE!!!’ He was okay after that.
DAY 181: We did the bomb-point-of-view shot today. Again, somebody asked if I had seen ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ I put a grenade in his mouth, pulled the pin and filmed him blowing up. I made a mental note to use it in a process shot in post-production. You never know.
DAY 220: We’re done blowing things up. Now what? I decided we should probably have some scenes with angry generals and whoever happened to be President of the United States at the time. You know, for authenticity’s sake. May as well. We still have about $2 million left over from the Pearl Harbor sequence.
DAY 222: Jon Voight showed up to play F.D.R. We shot a scene of the wheelchair-bound president attempting to get out of his chair and stand at the table, trying to prove a point. Suddenly, and I’m guessing this is a joke, Voight screams, “Mien Furher! I can valk!” The crew laughed. I didn’t get it. They’ll never work in this town again.
DAY 278: I decided to give Alec Baldwin another prize line of dialogue: “Victory belongs to those who believe in it the most and the longest. We’re gonna believe in it. And we’re gonna make Americans believe in it, too.”
DAY 301: Production wrapped. All I remember is blowing things up. That’s all that matters, right?
DAY 320: Postproduction editing. We try the movie out at 6 ½ hours, but something doesn’t quite work. We strip the movie of any depth and character and whittle it down to 3 hours.
DAY 485: I read the reviews. The critics agree: My movie ‘has a pedestrian script and a bland Harlequin romance-novel love story with cardboard characters. My movie makes no attempt to teach a lesson in history, for fear of losing the interest of 12-year-olds and high-school teeny-boppers. The love story feels tacked on to a sequence that, once it comes, has no effect on the viewer. No horror. No devastation. No remorse. Just things blowing up. It’s laughable, corny, schmaltzy and pandering. The idea of these machismo-flaunting ego-maniacs exploiting an horrific and senseless tragedy such as Pearl Harbor by pawning it off on the American public as a big summer blockbuster leaves one feeling nauseated.’ Mr. Souter went on to say, ‘If Michael Bay wanted to beat James Cameron and Steven Spielberg at their own game, he should have started by adopting some of their core traits: Talent, impeccable storytelling instincts and a desire to bring a piece of important history to the forefront of American culture, a desire to educate, not just entertain.DAY 488: Managed to avoid watching ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ ‘Titanic,’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ for fear I might learn something.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4724&reviewer=233
originally posted: 05/26/01 16:12:59