The title of this article should end with an ellipsis followed by “apart from Armageddon, Bad Boys II or one of the Transformer Movies. “

Yeah, I’m a sucker for everything Michael Bay has to offer. The man makes entertaining films that are perfect for the theatrical experience. I freely admit that I saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen four times when it was released in 2009, and even unusually defended it against Roger Ebert’s malicious, albeit pinpoint, attacks.

Critically, everything Bay does is wrong. Its characters, tempo, direction, editing … none of it makes sense. in the Bad Boys II, a pair of undercover narcotics officers in Miami – I think? – Engage in a violent gunfight in a densely populated area that leads to a ferocious chase filled with massive explosions, vehicle slaughter, and endless rounds of ammunition. When the chase ends, the duo dust themselves off and head to work, where their slightly annoyed captain chews them up so things get out of hand before he exclaims, “You’re lucky no one was killed!”

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Such is the world of Michael Bay. After 14 films it is clear that the man behind “Bayhem” doesn’t care about the nuances of cinema. His plans are little more than excuses to venture into exotic locations to film beautiful women, huge explosions, and military propaganda.

I would give anything to have his life.

To be fair, Bay has tried what might be called “actual cinema” on a few occasions. In particular the war drama 13 hours and these fools pain and Gain snap. But Bay’s truest attempt came in 2001 through a small film called Pearl Harbor.

Let’s rewind.

May 25, 2001. I was 19 years old and sat with my family in a packed theater on Regal UA Olympus Pointe in Roseville, California, waiting for my next foray into the blockbuster stratosphere. That particular summer had already unleashed The mummy returns, A knight’s story, and Shrek (and would reveal later The Fast and the FuriousSteven Spielberg is great AI artificial intelligence, Jurassic Park IIIand Tim Burtons planet of monkeys Remake), but Pearl Harbor was the big one. Since that breathtaking first trailer for Hans Zimmer’s “Journey to the Line,” in which a squadron of Zeros drifted past the camera in a dramatic way, I’d been passionately following Bay’s war epic. I bought making-of books, magazines, posters; I’ve seen interviews with the cast and crew and spent a whole week driving my family insane with endless loops of Zimmer’s impressive score (and that pesky Faith Hill song). Hell, I’ve seen and re-viewed Bay’s entire library, which it consisted of at the time Bad Boys, The stone, and Armageddon;; and prepared me for the next one Titanic– great epic.

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Early evaluations indicated a disaster of biblical proportions. My heart sank when Roger Ebert gave the film a star and a half, waving its dialogue, misguided tone, historical inaccuracy, and shallow drama. but quickly recovered when my critic at the time, the late Joe Baltake, gave the film three and a half stars in the Sacramento Bee, calling it a “shamelessly old-fashioned” Hollywood blockbuster.

Despite the mixed reactions early on, I was still looking forward to the film. And look, I’ll be the first to say that I knew myself at the time that the bottom line was cops – … but very good cops – anyway.

See, I’m a sucker for spectacle and on that front Pearl Harbor delivers like no other. Sure, the admittedly, ah, complicated love story about a guy banging his (not really) dead best friend’s girl practically collapses under the weight of insane dialogue and uneven action (it’s always a trip poor Kate Beckinsale goes with Hearing lines like struggling, “I don’t think I’ll ever watch another sunset without looking at you!”), And the cheesy third act, which revolves around Jimmy Doolittle’s famous Tokyo Raid, looms precariously close Armageddon Territory but man … the 30 minute action sequence revolving around the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is absolutely beautiful and well worth the price of admission.

Let’s sum it up.

The scene begins exactly an hour and twenty minutes after the film begins. We watch the Japanese fleet gloomily start their zeros, followed by a glorious sequence in which the enemy squadron soars through the lush green mountains of Oahu, aided by Zimmer’s increasingly pulsating score. As planes roll past confused onlookers (including a couple of kids curiously playing baseball at 7:45 a.m., a couple of boy scouts, and a random woman hanging up laundry), the tension builds until the first torpedo collides with its target.


You can practically hear Bay exhale a giant before you do what he does best: make mince out of your senses. Bullets, torpedoes, dog fights, oh my god! And then the money shot – a bird’s eye view of a bomb that fell on the USS Arizona and eventually broke into the USS Arizona, which exploded spectacularly from an absolutely insane VFX shot that was one of my favorite moments in the theater. This is not an exaggeration. The sound design practically blew my eardrum out!

Later, Zeros race through the battleship line with video game precision as explosions erupt across the screen and stunt men jump around like ballet dancers on crack. We follow the characters of Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett on their way to an airfield in search of aircraft they can pilot. “I think World War II just said it,” Hartnett knowingly exclaims as the audience twitches.

More explosions. More CGI. More action. The sequence is relentless. We watch in horror as the USS Oklahoma capsizes, swallowing a legion of men in the dramatic rhythm of the film, and cheer when Doris “Dorie” Miller of Cuba Gooding Jr. picks up a machine gun and shoots down a couple from enemy aircraft. Eventually Affleck and Hartnett jump into some P40’s, soar into the sky, and triumphantly shoot down a line of Japanese fighters while sailors in the water cheer them on. They even find time to play chicken.

For this extended action scene alone, I returned to the theater six times this summer. On one show, our projector broke just before the attack started and we were taken to another theater and had to watch again for the first hour and a half. I didn’t mind. On the big screen Pearl Harbor was larger than life; An action-packed extravaganza full of breathtaking effects and really ambitious filmmaking.

Yeah, I know the tone is wrong. Delighted with awe, Bay treats historical figures like FDR and Doolittle as silly caricatures. At some point, the famous president even gets up in a sequence that is supposed to be inspiring, but instead reminds of Merkin Muffley’s similar antics at the end of Dr. Strangelove. This is Hollywood fan fiction voted up to 11. and perhaps the worst kind of audience imaginable, right down to the weird ending where poor Affleck is stuck with his (very) dead friend’s wife and child for reasons I can’t fathom.

And yet, if you can overcome the historical inaccuracies, goofy conspiracies and hackneyed dramas, you will discover an exciting throwback to the old John Wayne films of the 40s, 50s and 60s such as: The flying leather necks, Operation Pacific, and Sand from Iwo Jima – equally exuberant films that ooze with patriotism and manufactured heroism.

I’ll be the first to admit that Pearl Harbor is far from a great movie, but luckily it will declare it the greatest guilty fun movie of all time, save for maybe Armageddon, Bad Boys II or one of those Transformer snaps.

I’m a sucker for Michael Bay. Sue me.