PEARL HARBOR: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT Vista Series DVD is the most extensive exploration of moviemaking ever presented. Four discs showcase more than 60 new shots in the film and over 12 hours of new special features. There's never been anything like it before. History comes alive in the unforgettable epic motion picture PEARL HARBOR, the spectacular blockbuster brought to the screen by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay. Astounding visual and audio effects put you at the center of the event that changed the world -- that early Sunday morning in paradise when warplanes screamed across the peaceful skies of Pearl Harbor and jolted America into World War II. This real-life tale of catastrophic defeat, heroic victory, and personal courage focuses on the war's devastating impact on two daring young pilots, Ben Affleck (ARMAGEDDON) and Josh Hartnett (BLACK HAWK DOWN), and a beautiful, dedicated nurse, Kate Beckinsale (SERENDIPITY). PEARL HARBOR is extraordinary moviemaking -- a breathtaking reenactment of the "date which will live in infamy" and a heartfelt tribute to the men and women who lived it.
Sometimes bigger is
actually better. Nearly matching the size of director Michael Bay's ego, this massive four-disc set is a veritable Pearl Harbor
archive, and ironically, Bay's film remains the least interesting component. It's a purely conventional Hollywood take on the tragedy, using a clichéd love triangle between two ace pilots (Josh Hartnett, Ben Affleck) and a Pearl Harbor nurse (Kate Beckinsale) as an "intimate" means of spectacularly re-creating the attack that thrust America into World War II. The director's cut adds little to the previous DVD release, apart from authentic R-rated carnage during the Japanese raid, and minor expansion of the Hartnett-Beckinsale romance. Commentaries range from superfluous (Bay and film historian Jeanine Basinger) to highly entertaining (Ben Affleck and costars) and technically informative (primary production team), and a spirited examination of visual effects (with Bay and ILM supervisor Eric Brevig) is guaranteed to fascinate anyone interested in physical effects and CGI. A broad "making of" documentary is noteworthy for one-time viewing, while abundant historical records make this a valuable compilation of definitive materials.
The History Channel's "One Hour over Tokyo" and "Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor" provide depth that Bay's movie lacks, and Charles Kiselyak's interactive timeline is arguably the finest feature included, providing an in-depth historical perspective on U.S.-Japan relations. Even a brief reenactment of a Pearl Harbor nurse's journal is moving in a way that Bay's film can only try to be, while the "Interactive Attack Sequence" provides a multifaceted exploration of the entire production process (a highly educational feature for aspiring filmmakers). All in all, these four discs offer an admirable balance between Bay's technically impressive but ill-conceived epic and a thorough, fitting tribute to those who endured hell on that fateful Sunday in 1941. --Jeff Shannon