Pearl Harbor is the classic story of the Japanese attack as told through the eyes of two boyhood friends, now serving as officers in the Army Air Corps. Rafe is an energetic young pilot who is selected to fly with the British in Europe while the United States is still not at war. After Rafe is shot down and presumed killed, Danny comforts Rafe's former lover, Evelyn, and the two draw closer. However, when Rafe turns up alive, the two former friends become enemies, and it is through the turmoil of Pearl Harbor that the two may reconcile their differences.
For more about Pearl Harbor and the Pearl Harbor Blu-ray release, see Pearl Harbor Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on September 19, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Pearl Harbor, from director Michael Bay, has a tendency to be fairly divisive when being discussed by avid filmgoers. A good number of viewers agree that it is fairly lightweight from a story standpoint, though others seem to think it's a fantastic romantic war movie. I tend to fall into the first camp and find Pearl Harbor to be tedious to watch. I've never been comfortable with historical films that remove much of the actual history of the event and instead focus on fictitious characters. Titanic also suffered in this same way yet managed to include enough actual history to be a bit less controversial. I'm certainly of the opinion that a film that focuses on an event in history as important as the attack on Pearl Harbor should pay a bit more attention to the actual people who lived out the experience and not try to "hollywood-ize" the events.
One of the many outstanding battle scenes from Pearl Harbor
On the more positive side of things, the filmmakers do a nice job with Cuba Gooding Jr's character, so they do score some points there. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast of Pearl Harbor, as a whole, tends to rub me the wrong way. Ben Affleck is at his most annoying and Josh Hartnett has yet to provide me with any verifyable evidence that he can actually act. Either way, the real point of this movie seems to be the attack on Pearl Harbor itself. If I were to grade that sequence alone, this would easily be a 5 star movie all the way. When we factor in the rest of the flick we drop down to 2 stars. Fast forward this Blu-ray to the film's climactic attack sequences and you'll be absolutely thrilled. The Doolittle Raid sequence is also quite well done and Alec Baldwin does an excellent job of portraying the brash Jimmy Doolittle with a good amount of exuberance. Ultimately, Pearl Harbor is hard for me to recommend on the whole, but the action sequences are outstanding.
The outstanding nature of this 1080p film transfer just about makes up for all of the film's shortcomings. Pearl Harbor easily ranks as one of the finest high definition transfers yet seen on Blu-ray. The fact that this is an early Disney encode makes that all the more impressive. This disc has it all: Outstanding contrast, inky, deep blacks, startlingly clear shadow detail and not the slightest hint of any kind of artifacting. While my Pansonic Blu-ray player can't show me actual bit-rates, they must be astonishingly high to deliver this crisp and detailed of a picture. I was really blown away by how film-like this transfer is. Skin and fabric details are nothing short of remarkable. Pearl Harbor appears to have been heavily processed in post-production as there is a decidedly sepia-toned look to the film. The effect isn't entirely consistent though, as there are many scenes in Hawaii where rich ocean hues and green landscapes defy the more monochromatic elements that are prevalent in the film. I personally like the look of film that has been processed and given a bit of extra punch. For example, the climactic attack sequence is heavily color-corrected and chock-full of cgi elements, but is so stunning that it begs to be viewed over and over again. Pearl Harbor is the epitome of reference grade video.
Disney should again be applauded for their commitment to delivering uncompressed PCM audio tracks on their Blu-ray releases. Pearl Harbor is outstanding from an audio standpoint with fantastic directional effects that deliver a stunning depth to the soundtrack. Highs are crystal clear and bass rumbles and makes one's subwoofer really earn its keep. Planes, cannons and explosions literally spin around the room during the film's attack sequences. I truly felt like my living room had become a war-zone. I was equally impressed with how clearly dialogue was delivered. There was never a hint of distortion or any kind of unevenness to this soundtrack. The truest sign of an excellent audio track is how well the film's quieter moments are handled along with the bombastic action scenes. Pearl Harbor handles both expertly.
-2 theatrical trailers
-A music video
-2 basic featurettes
While there isn't anything terribly exciting included amongst these supplements, I am glad to see that Disney included the theatrical trailers and the music video. The two featurettes are pretty standard stuff with no real insight into the movie or the making of the movie.
I'm definitely not too impressed with Pearl Harbor as a film. This Blu-ray presentation, however, is amazingly effective and features some of the finest video and audio yet produced for the format. While this strong technical presentation can't make up for the film's shortcomings, the remarkable battle scenes are a sight to behold. This one might just be worth owning for those scenes, alone.