The whole film is filled with spiritual symbolism. There are a number of crosses, streaming beams of heavenly light, the beauty of an undefiled Eden paradise and the overall theme of saving grace.
-Reviews by David Bruce and Mike Furches


This page was created on June 29, 2000
and was updated on May 23, 2005

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Mike is the Senior Pastor at United at the Cross Community Church in Wichita Kansas. United at the Cross is a church made up of individuals not often accepted in other churches. The church consists of former gang members, drug addicts, prostitutes and others. Mike also speaks nationally on various topics and is a freelance writer. To learn more about Mike and his ministry link onto In the arts Mike has worked with top music artists such as Steppenwolf, Marshall Tucker Band, Kansas and has an active interest in film. Mike is pictured with his music band "Route 66." His reviews include The Mummy Returns. Amistad, The Apostle, Armageddon, The Cell, Hurricane, Dr Dolittle 2, ELO -Zoom, Frequency, The Patriot, Me, Myself and Irene, Pearl Harbor, Rush Hour 2, Shrek, Extreme Days, The Last Castle, Serendipity, Ali, Reversal, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Jimmy Neutron, Mothman, Black Hawk Down

I am one that generally loves patriotic movies and was excited about seeing Pearl Harbor from the first moment I saw the trailers last summer. Click to go to THE PATRIOTI still believe that The Patriot with Mel Gibson is one of the best releases of a patriotic movie during the traditional holiday season. Pearl Harbor has certainly received a great deal of hype and promotion and is expected to be one of the top movies this year. While many of my heightened expectations where let down from the film there were a few things that I liked and think makes the film worth while.

Click to enlargePearl Harbor starts off wonderfully with the childhood dreams of dear friends Rafe McCawley played by Ben Affleck and Danny Walker played wonderfully by Josh Hartnett. The opening scene shows two young boys in a barn playing in an old bi-plane dreaming of being pilots and fighting the Germans.

Later on the boys climb into the empty cockpit of a dust cropper which is flown by Danny's father. They accidentally start the plane and take it down a grassy runway in the Tennessee foothills. Danny's father becomes very upset and slaps him telling him that he had told him not to play with that boy (Rafe) because, "He is no good." Rafe hits him with a wooden board and confronts him, calling him a, "Dirty German." Danny's father, played by William Fichtner changes character almost immediately, telling him that he fought against the Germans in the Great War. Realizing what he had done the father becomes very upset, . As he walks across the field alone, Danny runs after him only to have his father place his arm around his son. Danny returns the embrace. This opening scene does as much to display the horror of war as any in the movie.

Click to enlargeThe friendship between Rafe and Danny continues and as is expected, they both turn into hot-shot pilots for the Army. As the war develops in Europe, Click to enlargethe United States and Japan continue negotiations regarding their relationship. Times are good for America, the distance between America and the war gives a false sense of security. We all know what eventually happens and the results of the war. While we have a fictionalized account involving the various characters in film, the film is filled with much thought provoking scenes and events.

War is an event fought on the battlefield and within the lives of individuals. Pearl Harbor does a good job at displaying this. Lives and struggles that are led in private and are lost on the field of battle are displayed well in the film. One of the highlights I especially appreciated was the development of some of the primary characters and their struggles. Rafe does something appreciated from a Christian view when he has the opportunity to have sex with his girlfriend before going to fight alongside the British in Europe. He refuses stating that he doesn't want to do something that he will later regret. It is nice to see a well liked character being played with some moral values, especially in the area of sexuality.

Click to enlargeTwo other components of the film which impressed me were the special effects from Industrial Light and Magic. They should be considered for an Academy Award nomination. This company continues to take film to a new level and the special effects and flight sequences in this film are among the best I have seen.

Click to enlargeThe second is the part of President Roosevelt played by John Voight. This is the best acting by Voight since his role in 'Coming Home.' It will be hard to imagine five other actors at the end of the year more deserving of an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor than Voight. He does not waist a single second of on air time as Roosevelt. This has to be one of the best portrayals of an American President ever on film and must bring joy to those with physical challenges, supporters of Roosevelt and the remaining family members. I can not imagine a more enjoyable feeling from an actor than to receive the appreciation of these various groups and recognition from his fellow actors.

Click to enlargeWith the above said it would appear that I really liked this movie but to be honest I have to say I was disappointed. While the acting of Voight and the special effects of Industrial Light and Magic were spectacular, I believe the movie left something to be desired. After leaving the theater it was as if the movie had something missing and I just couldn't put my finger on it. After seeing the film and thinking about it I believe that there was too many plot twists in the film and that the movie tried to draw us into the lives of too many characters.

There are two older films that deal with the subject matter covered in Pearl Harbor that I believe do a much better job. 'Bridge to the Sun' a true story of Johnson City, Tennessee native Gwen Terrasaki who fell in love with a Japanese Ambassador and later married him prior to the start of World War 2. She ends up living in Japan with her husband during the war. The other 'Tora, Tora, Tora' is also a classic film that deals well with the horrors of war. Pearl Harbor is worth seeing just to see Voight and the special effects. It is not a great movie and if you go to it with high expectations you may be disappointed as I was. On a scale of 1 - 10, Pearl Harbor bombed for me with a 5


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Subject: Pearl Harbor Review
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002
From: Josh Hartnett

I disagree with all of the bad reviews of Pearl Harbor said by anyone. I have watched it 45 times and know every little detail. First of which is, OK, Betty said she lied about her age and enlisted in the Navy...which means she is not 18, she is 17. That is why she says, "We're gonna wait two years until I'm nineteen. Red can buy me a ring." Also, I have been doing a great amount of research on the actual attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. I am reading a book called Day Of Infamy. Pearl Harbor is VERY historically accurate! You know when the guy with Navy Newsreel says, "I didn't even know the Japs were sore at us!"? That really happened. Someone said, "I didn't even know they were sore at us!" Also, if you notice, as the Japanese are listening to the radio, it says, "This is KGMB in Honolulu..." KGMB is the actual station. There were actually 2 guys who shot down 7 planes, portrayed by Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, two very good and hot actors, ! as they are flying in the air, shooting the Japanese planes during the raid. I also disagree with whoever said that the survivors didn't like it. On the behind the scenes, there were a lot of survivors, and they were all invited to the set. They sure ACTED like they liked it. The planes did fly very close to the ground. They DO feel that the bomb that blew up the Arizona came from a high level bomber and went into the magazine room. Some American's did suspect that Japan would try and hit Pearl Harbor (Dan Akyroid). When Jon Voight stands up and says, "Do not tell me, 'It can't be done!' ", that's not something to be "offended" by. It just adds to the feel of things. His speech after December 7 is completely accurate. The Battle of Britain is really at the right spot: The White Chalk Cliffs of Dover. I loved the movie. It did not get you emotionally envolved with too many characters. Just Rafe, Danny, and Evelyn. That's why you cry at the end. Well, why I cry at least. I think they portray Evelyn Johnson, Kate Beckinsale, as just some girl who tries to have sex with every guy. First she tries Rafe; he said no. She tries Danny; he said yes and got her pregnant. Then, she gets back with Rafe. It's like she doesn't care WHO it is. Almost all of the military men were out at night at clubs and parties on December 6th, 1941.

OK, I think I am going too long...sorry.
If you feel differently about any of these and have a strong opinion about it,
email me at

Subject: Pearl Harbor
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001
From: "Tadayoshi Minakawa"

Dear brothers and sisters, I'm a Japanese Christian and just found out about this beautiful true story about the Love of God during World War II, and I'd like to share it with you. You can find out more about the story at God Bless. Your brother in Christ,
Tadayoshi Minakawa

Subject: Pearl_Harbor
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2001
From: Todd

I would like to respond to David Bruce's review of Pearl Harbor. First of all, I absolutely hate this movie, but that bears no influence on my comments. Bruce said one of the most tremendous scenes in the film was when Roosevelt stood up to show the military leaders what could and couldn't be done. This scene was the worst scene in the movie and in my opinion, the worst scene in film history. It's strictly manipulative crap and a far cry from anything possible. He never could have stood up out of that chair, and I think it's irresponsible of the filmmakers to imply that he could. It's very similar to the commercial with Christopher Reeve, where he is shown walking. It's all very manipulative and very much a Hollywood addition to the movie. The attack scene was very well done, but the rest of the movie is horrible. The reality of the movie is extremely minimal and most of the survivors of the attack don't like the movie. Unlike Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, the movie takes real, tragic events and gritters them up to get people to enjoy the movie. Both of the other movies portray things realisticly and have gone down as two of the greatest movies in film history. Hopefully, Pearl Harbor will only go down as a joke and another failed attempt at a worthwhile Bruckheimer film.

Subject: Pearl Harbor
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001
From: Sarah

I enjoy reading your movie reviews, though I admit I haven't been to your site for about a month. I was visiting this afternoon, though, and I wanted to let you know a few things about Pearl Harbor which are inaccurate.

First, in talking about Roosevelt, you say:
I really appreciated the films portrayal of President Roosevelt in a wheel chair. It is not the first film to do this, but I think it is the first film to portray it as a strength. One of the most tremendous scenes in the film is when Roosevelt is faced with a table full of US military leaders who have nothing but "can't do" excuses. Roosevelt places his hands on the sides of his wheelchair and struggles to stand. With great effort he finally stands on his withered legs, "Don't tell me that it can not be done." That's great, but that scene never actually happened.

The directors, when asked, said no, it didn't happen in real life, but "it should have." I thought the scene was touching, as well, but it's sad that, from now on, there will be a misconception that it really happened. (Of course, the scene never actually happened -David)

Second, you say of the shot of the boys in Hawaii playing baseball as the Japanese planes flew overhead:
Nobody plays a baseball game this early on a Sunday morning. It's placed in the film as symbolic of the shift from innocence to devastation. From Paradise to Paradise lost. It is the Garden of Eden story couched in an actual historical event.

That's not true. There were actually boys playing baseball as the planes flew by overhead. It wasn't an actual game, just boys playing ball. That's one of the few details of that dat that the film portrayed accurately. Yes, it was early, but these are children. Children get up and play very early. Can you even imagine what those boys were thinking? They likely didn't even know what those planes meant, and 10 minutes later, their world was just shattered. (Thank you, I did not know there were boys practicing baseball. But, still, there was no game. The game was symbolic of America's loss of innocense. Thank you for the info).

You certainly pegged the sexuality thing on the mark, though. I really was glad that the director chose to have Rafe and Evylyn not have sex. That's likely the choice they would have made back then. And I was equally glad to see old-fashioned values come into play when Evylyn chose to stay with Danny, because he was the father of her child, rather than return to Rafe.

Anyway, I appreciate your website, I just wanted to point out a few inaccuracies. (I appreciate your kind words. Thank you. -David)

Subject: Review of Pearl Harbor
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001
From: Mark Beutel

Pearl Harbour was blasted by many critics when it came out for fabricating real events and downplaying things how they actualuly were. It was also said that the movie included a love triangle that was entirely unnecessary. Going into this movie I had mixed idea's. I usually really enjoyed war-movies and this was one event that I had just recently learned about so I figured that the movie would offer me valuable insight as to how things really were, so I could actually picture the events that happened there. The first hour or so of the movie is basically introducing the various main characters of Rafe and Danny and the the girl that eventually comes between them. For this first hour Pearl Harbour is hardly even mentioned, while the relationships between the main characters was all that was introduced. Once the film actually starts with the Pearl Harbour bombing, it stays relatively close to the actual story, and surprisingly both the Chinese and Americans are reflected upon in a positive light. Captain Minoru of the Chinese is seen as reluctant in his decision to attack Pearl Harbour, but basically we are told that it is something that he felt had to be done. In reality, Captain Minoru was completely against the bombing of Pearl Harbour, he was actually an ambassador to the US prior to the bombing. The battle scene itself is the true winning element of the story that allows it to gain a favourable review in my eyes. For almost an hour we are subjected to utter chaos at Pearl Harbour, countless lives are lost yet this is not shown in a gruesome fashion like other recent war movies. Nonetheless one can still come away from this experiance with a much greater understanding of the toils that men and women went through during this time period, the end result is much more effective then anything previously done on Pearl Harbour. The one scene of the film the stuck in my mind was when the men and women on the carriers/battleships were still caught under the water after the attack was long over, and when they were reaching up through holes in the hull of the ship, desperately wanting to be set free from their watery deathbed. Rescue workers desperately tried to save these people but many died holding the hands of rescue workers who were trying to free them. These scenes were particularly powerful. The rest of the movie is comprised of the evident death of Rafe and the love that is kindled between Danny and Evelyn. Unlike earlier in the film where sexuality is actually presented in a positive light where Rafe doesn't conscend to sex with Evelyn the night b4 he has to leave, Danny and Evelyn go through a whirlwind romance that ends up with Evelyn getting pregnant. By the movies end Danny is killed off and Rafe, who miraculously survived the shooting down of his aircraft takes over as the role of the father of Evelyn's yet unborn child. This entire love-triangle is no doubt a ploy by the producers who are trying to appeal to the younger female audience w/the likes of hearthrobs Hartnett and Affleck just like Leo Dicaprio did in the close to 3 hour Titanic. Other then the tedious affair of the love triangle presented in the movie, i really enjoyed Pearl Harbour and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this specific genre.
By Mark Beutel

Subject: Pearl Harbor
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001
From: "Dhiren Mahiban"

Pearl Harbor: Love Story, I think not. Many complained that all the movie Pearl Harbor was going to be about was a love story. But it wasn't, only a third of it was what you might call a love story, the rest of the movie consisted of a friendship between Danny (Josh Hartnett) and Rafe (Ben Affleck). The main plot of the movie however was the actual attack and the time leading up to the attack. The main part of the movie consisted of the Japanese planning the attack, the actual attack on Pearl Harbor and then the American's counterattack. The best part of the movie was Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the scenes, which showed how the Japanese set spies to plan out their attack. The effects looked so real and I think Michael Bay did a great job. Also the Americans attack on Japan was really good too. It showed how the Americans will never let anyone else have the last say.
>From Dhiren Mahiban

Subject: thoughts on Pearl_Harbor
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001
From: Sabrina Lewis

I thought Pearl Harbor had its major pros and cons. Well first of all, I thought the cinematography was amazing, especially during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I liked how they showed different views of the war. From Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character of the black cook to the Japanese General, all were well exemplified. Also the idea of how sexuality should be something not taken lightly was a surprise to me. I personally can't remember a recent movie that tried to make that point. The idea of grace between best friends was touching. I liked how the bombing of Pearl Harbor didn't some how glorify the Americans. What I didn't like about the movie was how it was so long. The two hour love story seemed quiet irrelevant to me. I started to drift off to sleep. The love story wasn't even decent. If it has to last for 2hrs, couldn't they have written a better screenplay for it? Overall, I think that the movie is not worth seeing for the storyline, but the for the special effects. It was just another Hollywood blockbuster that could have been better in many ways.
from Sabrina Lewis

Subject: Pearl_Harbor
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2001
From: Josh N.

I thought that the movie really could have done better than it did. The commercials made the movie look better than it was, but i have got to admit that the special effects where excellent, and the dog fight scenes where very well done. I wacthed the moive and the first thing that came into my mind was how Americanized it was. As a Canadian, i respect Americans, but when they make it look like Pearl Harbour was not a major blow into their pride, it really bugged me. I also didn't like the love story in the movie. It's not the way the guy is supposed to get the girl. I would have rahter had the typical Hollywood ending to the movie than have Rafe get Evelen that way. You can't just kill off his best friend, Danny, who was the father of the baby to have Rafe get his woman back. And my last point is, the movie was dragged out way to long. Three hours for a half hour event is just pulling it. To put in a simple way, i would rather have watched Titanic again.
Josh N.

Date: Mon, 28 May 2001
From: Lana Jones

Overall, I thought this film was well done. The camera work and special effects create a whole new view of reality on what's happening to the characters, which helps us to understand some aspects of what people must have gone through and experienced during the actual event of Pearl Harbor itself. Although the story line didn't quite focus so much on the details of Pearl Harbor, and more on the love triangle between Danny, Rafe, and Evelyn, it stayed true to what happened. It portrayed both America and Japan in good 'light' and we especially see this when Commander Minoru does not wish to go to war against America. Something else that I highly admired in the this film was that the idea of becoming sexually involved with someone has it consequences. The media today usually portrays sex as something that will fulfill a persons innermost needs and it that it's almost always great all the time. Not that sex can't be, but realistically, it needs to be used in the right context. This is shown when Evelyn and Danny rush into sex to fast and as a result everything becomes even more complicated and more hurt as a result, especially when Rafe shows up alive. Where as when Rafe and Evelyn make the choice to 'wait' we find that their love seems to be more pure. I liked this because this is something that we don't often have portrayed in our society today.
-Lana Jones

Date: Sat, 26 May 2001
From: M. Vanzant

After having just seen "Pearl Harbor" I feel a need to respond to "I Smell a Stinker" and to the journalistic critics. I was twelve years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed and sixteen when the war was finally over. Critics have written and spoken this movie was high on explosions---true that is what happened. For two hours Pearl Harbor was bombed and the time of innocence was over. When the fighting ended there were two thousand six hundred some lying dead, some are still entombed on the Arizona at the bottom of the harbor. We now have two generations in this country who have little or no knowledge of the history of our country in that period, and what a shame that is for our educational system. Those persons have no idea what their grandparents, great-grandparents experienced. Knowing the history of our background is an important part of who we are.

One critic stated the movie was low on plotline or even interesting dialogue. The moral standards were different in that period of time than current standards. It was common for lovers of that time to delay sexual activity, and at the same time there were those who did not delay that experience because we were living in a time when being a casualty of war was very real. As for the dialogue in the movie, that was the speech of that period in time.

The only fault I found with this movie was when Betty said they would wait for two years to marry because she would be 19. That would have meant she was 17 at the time and in Hawaii as a nurse. Nurses' training at that time required three years and women were not admitted into a training program until they were 17 or 18.

Some have complained that the movie was too long. I believe that comment comes from those who do not know the history or the impact that event had on the people of the United States at that time. And that is the sad part about not knowing the history of your country. This movie does an excellent job of showing us what grace and forgiveness and reconciliation are about. We need that in our culture at this time. I liked this movie and I am glad that someone finally told the story of that Sunday morning.
May 26, 2001
M. Vanzant

Response: Thank you so much for your well thought out remarks. -David

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Dewanyne Williams

Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer are now trying their hand at a WWII epic, eh? Before everyone gets too excited (which many already are), let's keep in mind that these are the bozos who gave us such turkeys as Con Air and Armageddon. High on explosions and special effects, low on plot line or even interesting dialogue. I suppose lot's of folks will rave about what a marvelous homage this film will be to the events surrounding the war in the Pacific, when really all it will be doing is capitalizing on ol' fashioned patriotism and the good looks of Ben Affleck, Josh Hairnet (heh-heh), et al. Do yourself a favor folks-go rent The Thin Red Line if you want to see a truly great film...or Saving Private Ryan if you're feeling particularly patriotic or bloodthirsty. Just don't go see Bay and Bruckheimer's latest dud. You'll only encourage them.
Yours, Dewanyne Williams

Subject: I hope that Pearl Harbor does not lapse into anti-asian bias
Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2000
From: "Chris Suh"

I sincerely hope that Pearl Harbor does not lapse into anti-Asian bias. My family is from Hawaii, and actually lived there when the Japanese bombed the fleet. Like the majority of the people who live in the state of Hawaii both then and now, they were Asian-American in background, and had lived in America for many generations. They also enlisted in the United States Army in huge numbers afterwards, despite the internment of a number of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. Their 442nd division is the most decorated American military unit in history. I hope that the makers of Pearl Harbor do not fail to convey the reality of the brave Americans in Hawaii, who brought honor to both their country and their Asian-American heritage in WWII, choosing instead to at best gloss it over and at worst stir up increased anti-Asian bias. Please feel free to post these comments. - Christopher S.

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