Pearl Harbor: Special 2 Disc Edition (2001)

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Released 23-Apr-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
THX Trailer
THX Optimizer
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of-Journey To The Screen: The Making Of Pearl Harbor
Music Video-There You'll Be-Faith Hill
Featurette-Pearl Harbor: The Japanese Perspective
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 175:36 (Case: 183)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (88:11)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Bay

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Ben Affleck
Josh Hartnett
Kate Beckinsale
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Alec Baldwin
Jon Voight
Tom Sizemore
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Hans Zimmer

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (384Kb/s)
Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, everyone did back then.
Annoying Product Placement Yes, watch for the Coke reference.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Last time I looked at Pearl Harbor I found it to be a pleasant enough distraction for an evening when there was nothing else to do. With my second viewing of this film, my opinion of it has actually risen. While it certainly has more than its fair share of flaws, Pearl Harbor is entertaining enough to make its three hour running time go by quickly. It rarely drags, being pulled through the slower sequences by solid performances from all three leads, and coupled with wonderful scoring and pretty enough cinematography, it both looks and sounds good.

    The plot surrounds three people involved in World War II in general, and the attack on Pearl Harbor specifically. While a fair segment of the movie revolves around the attack itself (about 40 minutes worth kicking off some 80 minutes into the movie), and there is a short finalé about bombing Tokyo, the rest of the movie is a love-triangle based romance. Two best friends - Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) - join the army together and progress through the ranks to become top class fly-boys. As the film starts, Rafe is about to ship off to England to help fight the Nazis, but he has a problem. He has just met and fallen in love with army nurse Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale). Despite the temptations, he still ships out to England. When his plane goes down in the channel, however, he is listed as missing in action with Evelyn and Danny assuming the worst. Through their shared feelings for Rafe, they grow closer together until the time comes when they realise that they are falling for each other. Obviously, this causes some guilty feelings, as they both try to deal with what their affections for each other mean about their feelings for Rafe. All this happens before the big Japanese attack. Once that is over we move quickly toward the revenge mission to bomb Tokyo, with John Voight as President Roosevelt. Basically, he sends his best pilots on a suicide mission to bolster the nation's pride - not really that clever, but hey, it made him feel good.

    What seems to be the largest point of consternation when it comes to this movie is that it cost so much to make, and did so little with the money. What actually happened is that it did quite a bit with the money, but buried it in the midst of a sumptuous but effects-free romance movie. And that is where the biggest problem with Pearl Harbor lies - it tries to be everything to everybody. By attempting to marry the action and romance genres it will generally annoy fans of each genre, and will only please fans of both romance and action, which is a fairly small market. Really, the filmmakers should have decided before they started filming if Pearl Harbor was going to be a "guys" film in the vein of Gladiator, or a "chick flick" like Titanic, as it tries to do both and doesn't really quite make it in either category.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer presented here is identical to that of the rental disc I looked at a few months back. In fact I would go so far as to assume that the two discs are from the same master as the same audio problems present on the review disc are still present here. For the sake of completeness however, the transfer quality is covered anew here, and a very good transfer it is. Having the chance to scrutinise the transfer a second time did not really change anything - this is still a high quality transfer that is slightly hamstrung by the source material.

    Presented in the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp, showing a high quality image that includes, for the most part, more than sufficient detail without any side effects. There are a number of occasions, however, where the grain levels creep right up, but this is due to the filmmakers choice to use many different types of film, including high-grain stock, so what we have is about as good as it will ever look. Shadow detail is excellent, and the few dimly lit scenes come vibrantly to life. There was no low-level noise detected.

    Colours are very good, and again are used by the filmmakers to give the film a different feel given the circumstances. Each of these situations are very well-handled, and the disc never lets itself down in this regard.

    There are no compression artefacts at all in this transfer, and that is very nearly the story for film-to-video artefacts as well. There is only a very small amount of aliasing present, almost all of it minor. The most noticeable is at 142:53 on the gridlines of the blackboard (this occurs almost every time the blackboard is in shot). As a side note, one of the more interesting sources of aliasing I have encountered is the insignia on the breast pocket of Doolittle at 136:52. There are a few film artefacts present, such as at 45:53, but all are minor and do not detract from the image quality.

    The subtitles are accurate to the word, but are still nicely paced. There is only one exception to this rule. The subtitles for the Japanese dialogue are burned into the print, are small, hard to read, and move quite quickly. With any luck, any further versions of this film will rectify this problem.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 88:11 during Chapter 23 - exactly the same location as on the rental disc, which pretty much guarantees the two came from the same master. This placement is not particularly good, as it occurs during the attack sequence, and there were plenty of quieter moments in which to insert it only a few minutes earlier.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    While the impression of the video transfer was not altered by another viewing, the audio did not escape so easily, as the non-surround nature of the dialogue sequences became apparent.

    There are two audio tracks available on this disc, being the original English dialogue and a Turkish dub both presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 Kbps). The English dialogue track has the THX EX flag set despite not actually being an EX encoded track - this is apparently due to digital copyright information being included in the Dolby Digital stream confusing EX enabled decoders. The problem this causes is that for a short period between 141:41 and 143:02, the EX flag turns off, causing a brief audio drop-out (much like a layer-change) both when it turns off and then again when it turns back on. There have also been reports of more recent EX enabled decoders muting entirely, and needing to be manually un-muted at times during this soundtrack. Fortunately, all these problems only occur if the decoder is set to auto-detect EX sound tracks. If set to either forced EX mode or non-EX mode, the decoders play the soundtrack without any problems. This is the final indicator that this retail disc is taken from the same master as the rental, as it is highly unlikely that the same mistake would be made in the exact same location on two separate masters.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. The effects work never overshadows the dialogue, although there is little in the way of dialogue during the 40 odd minute attack sequence anyway. For the rest of the movie, the score and any effects are always well balanced with the dialogue.

    There are no problems with audio sync on this disc.

    The music is provided by Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer, and it is a very good score. The music works perfectly for both the romance and action sequences of the film, switching gear without missing a beat. It is a very impressive effort indeed.

    The surround channel behaviour can really be broken into two categories - during action sequences, and during dialogue driven sequences. During the former, the surrounds are very aggressively used, providing a perfect demo for surround systems, and split surrounds in particular. Bullets, bombs, planes, and trains whiz and steam from all directions, and give a very immersive soundscape indeed. When the action dies off however, the surround channels are really only used for score music, and no ambient sound is present at all. This is not as noticeable as on some other movies due to the finely worked nature of the score, but given the astounding surround work throughout the action sequences, it is somewhat disappointing.

    The subwoofer is used extensively during the action sequences, adding vast impact to every bomb and every bullet. During the dialogue driven sequences it goes quiet, but that is really to be expected.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Do not be fooled by the two-disc status of this presentation. It is quite reminiscent of the two-disc Braveheart, as the second disc contains only a few extras - although this is obviously somewhat better than the totally extras-free rental version.


    The menu is very impressively animated, features a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, and is 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Journey to the Screen: The Making of Pearl Harbor (47:29)

    This is really just an expansion on the standard "making of" documentary, that while somewhat interesting really only glosses over the surface. On the upside there is a ton of behind the scenes footage contained within that makes it a worthwhile viewing. It is presented in letterboxed 1.78:1, not 16x9 enhanced and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Note that the review disc featured a full picture break-up at 2:49 that lasted for almost a second. After that there are no problems, but it is quite obvious as it occurs on a cut, and for a moment the old image and the new image are both pixelated across the screen.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33)

    This is somewhat disappointing as it is only presented in letterboxed 2.35:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and only features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Music Video - There You'll Be by Faith Hill (3:47)

    This is a somewhat interesting presentation for a music video as it features Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Presented in letterboxed 2.35:1 and not 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - The Japanese Perspective (1:51)

    This supposedly gives the Japanese perspective on the events at Pearl Harbor, but as they get less than two minutes, as opposed to the three hours of the movie, I do not really think this is a representative effort.

THX Optimode Tests

    A few audio and video tests that supposedly can be used to calibrate a system.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     For the rental disc, I mentioned that it was somewhat unfair to compare it with the 2-disc R1, but with the new edition, all bets are off. The result is that we have what is clearly an inferior product here in R4, and that the R1 not only includes what is apparently a brilliant DTS track, but an extra featurette concentrating on the people involved in the Pearl Harbor attack. Keep in mind, of course, that in a few months (currently set down for July) Disney will be releasing a four-disc Vista Series "Director's Cut" of Pearl Harbor that should blow both the R1 and R4 2-disc editions away (pun intended) feature wise. Whether or not the non-R1 markets will see that release is not known as yet.


    Pearl Harbor is an enjoyable piece of light entertainment that really shoots itself in the foot as to achieving a target market by having action sequences that are too intense for the romantics, and a romance storyline that is too boring for the action fans. The DVD presentation is very good, but the lack of extras when compared to the R1 is disappointing.

    The video quality is excellent, with only a few source-related issues letting it down.

    The audio quality is astounding during the battle sequences, and rather average during the dialogue-driven sequences.

    The extras are not as extensive as they could be, and we are even short-changed compared to the R1.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Thursday, May 02, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)
Australian DVD Review - Rodney T
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Kevin S
Dark Horizons - Garth F

Comments (Add)
A diversion which is pleasant enough entertainment - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Director's Cut - Brandon (warning: bio hazard)
The funniest movie of 2001 hands down... - James (read my bio)
R4 Director's Cut Date - Shane A
R1 Vista Series 4-Disc Set - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Sounds cool but!! - Eric.b
No DTS, AGAIN!!! - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Pearl Harbor: DC & DTS - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Pearl Harbor: DC & DTS - No Dolby Headphone either! - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Region 1 or Region 4? I say neither. This is a terrible film. - Michael Bruckheimer
RE: A diversion which is pleasant enough entertainment - Michael Bruckheimer
New Poll please. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
This movie is the GREATEST - Jose Bay