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Bay of Infamy

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As everyone probably knows, yesterday was the 63rd anniversary of the “day that will live in infamy.”

I’m not going to spend any time writing about the event, other than to say that every soldier who died that day died a hero’s death. I have walked over the wreckage of the U.S.S. Arizona, and it remains to this day a truly humbling experience.

I’ll let those in the proper positions lead the memorials. Instead, I will head in a different, and far less significant direction.

A few years ago Hollywood sank its teeth into the story of Pearl Harbor, producing a movie in 2001 that left much to be desired.

I was a strong critic of director Michael Bay’s movie making abilities long before he made his disasterpiece. Back to back brain dead macho action flicks Bad Boys (1995) and The Rock (1996) were a sign of things to come.

Neither one could be accused of being smart. But both are Oscar calibre when compared to Bay’s next film, Armageddon (1998), which was saddled with atrocious screenwriting and broke almost every scientific rule in the book.

Memo to Mr. Bay: Sound in space we can live with since every sci-fi flick not called 2001 has broken that rule. But surely he must know that fires can’t burn in a vaccuum.

It would seem that he doesn’t.

After the unbelievably mind numbing success of Armageddon (no doubt due to the numbing of minds immediately before the purchasing of tickets), Bay decided to tackle the tragedy of Battleship Row. The movie couldn’t have been in less capable hands.

Rather than make a dignified historical piece, Bay instead opted for a grandiose soap opera, no doubt trying to capture the magic that James Cameron had snared with Titanic in 1997. He failed miserably.

The scenes of the attack at Pearl Harbor worked well enough, but it was somewhat difficult to really feel the tragedy of the moment because it was sandwiched by such a sudsy back story. Stars Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett played Bay’s usual macho stereotypes, scrapping over the girl just long enough for viewers to feel sad when one of them seemingly bites it at the end of the flick. Instead of tears for the many who perished during the battle, viewers are instead feeling the muted pain of a broken love triangle.

The film should have been called Love Story in Waikiki, with Ali MacGraw as a technical advisor.

In the end, Pearl Harbor is just another example of Hollywood blinded by dollar signs. As for Michael Bay, he should give up filmmaking and do what he does best. Whatever that is.

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