Pearl Harbor (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio & Animation
THX Trailer
THX Optimizer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 175:36 (Case: 183)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (88:11) 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
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Rental Music Hans Zimmer

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (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, these are Americans, and it is the 40s
Annoying Product Placement Yes, ever heard of collecting blood in Coke bottles?
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    When I sat down to watch this movie, I held out little hope of enjoying myself, and was really only interested in seeing the reportedly spectacular Japanese attack scenes. The combination of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay have churned out a seemingly endless stream of contemptible dross, culminating in what is probably the worst film ever made (at least, as far as films made for more than $100 million are concerned) - Armageddon. The final damning piece of evidence is that when this movie came out, not even the Americans liked what should have been an extremely patriotic movie.

    What I saw pleasantly surprised me.

    Pearl Harbor tells the story of childhood friends, and born fly-boys, Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) who join the military to achieve their dream of being fighter pilots. On one of their postings, Rafe meets and falls in love with navy nurse Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) just before he is offered the chance of achieving his dream - flying in a real war situation. He accepts the transfer to help the RAF in England fight the Germans, but keeps writing Evelyn letters. Unfortunately, Rafe takes on one German too many, and his plane plummets to the ocean. Word of his disappearance is relayed back to Danny who has the job of telling Evelyn. As can be imagined, both Danny and Evelyn take the news badly, and they are slowly pulled towards each other. But then, on December 6, Rafe turns up alive. Oops. As anyone who knows their wars will tell you, Pearl Harbor was attacked shortly after dawn on Sunday December 7, so fortunately, he is just in time to be there to hit back at the nasty Japs, and give them hell.

    The attack sequences are spectacular, and showcase some of the most impressive imagery that the CG masters at ILM have created to date. The explosions are authentic, and the feel of confusion and fear is apparent. Unfortunately, after the almost 50 minute attack sequence, there is still over an hour of conclusion that includes the wind-up of the love story that was so rudely interrupted by the Japanese, and a revenge attack on Tokyo.

    This is really two movies rolled into one. There is the romance that, whilst poorly written, is interesting enough thanks to the charisma of all of the actors involved, and then there is the action movie. The two really don't work well together, as the action sequence is too much for anyone who is there for the romance alone. As such, this film works quite well if you like action movies, but go into it expecting a romance movie. That way, the action will please, and the romance satisfy. Waiting for the action through the romance would be soporific if you were not getting into the story. The only thing that is unfortunate about the melding of the two forms is that the romance is cut off by the Japanese attack just when it is starting to get quite interesting. So what we end up with is a B-grade romance meshed with an A-grade actioner to produce a C-grade combination. It may have been simply that my expectations were so low coming in, or that I have always loved films that fall into the "so bad it's good" category, but I quite enjoyed Pearl Harbor. While not for everyone, this disc is worth a look at rental level for the action sequences alone.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer presented here is of generally excellent quality, although the level of grain present is somewhat worrying, especially for such a large-budget production.

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

    This transfer displays a very good level of sharpness, being more than enough to make out fine detail without causing much in the way of aliasing. A somewhat surprising problem for such a high-profile film is the level of grain present in the transfer. Unfortunately, this appears to be an "artistic" choice, involving the utilization of high-grain film stock. The grain is particularly bad early on, but seems to reduce as the film progresses (although this could be more a case of becoming used to the image as presented). The worst case however, occurs as an isolated instance at 80:11 - and stands out all the more for the general reduction in grain by that point in the film. Shadow detail is very good, allowing night scenes to really come to life. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are very nicely rendered, allowing the '40s setting to come through with sumptuous glory.

    There are absolutely no MPEG or film artefacts present at all in this transfer, which is extremely pleasing. There are, however, a few instances of aliasing. Most are extremely minor, and would be missed unless specifically looked for, however the horizontal lines on the briefing room blackboard at 142:52-143:06 seem to possess a life of their own, displaying enough shimmering to make them extremely distracting.

    The English subtitles I sampled stuck almost word-for-word to the dialogue, which is generally not that hard given the slow-talking Southern accents affected by the two lead men. The subtitles are rendered in a very clean, easy-to-read typeface that is quite attractive. It is another matter where the subtitles for the Japanese dialogue are concerned. These subtitles are very small, tend to move quite quickly, are placed over the image instead of in the blank area afforded by the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and are not that easy to read.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change taking place at 88:11, shortly after the Japanese attack has begun. While it is placed during a lull in the action, it is still mid-scene and therefore somewhat distracting. There were many more appropriate positions where it could have been placed.

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


    The audio transfer we have been presented with is brilliant, and perfectly suited to the film.

    There are two audio tracks available on this disc, being the original English dialogue and a Turkish dub. Both tracks are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, encoded at the normal bitrate of 384 Kbps, with the English audio track additionally having the THX Surround EX flag enabled despite not actually being an EX encoded track.

    A note to make here is that the embedded THX Surround EX flag may cause some problems for some EX enabled Dolby Digital processors, causing them to turn EX processing off between 141:41-143:02, along with a concomitant momentary audio drop-out. This problem is, fortunately, quite easily overcome by forcing an EX enabled processor into either 6.1 or 5.1 mode - the flag will only be a problem if the surround processor is set to automatically detect EX tracks. This problem, therefore, will obviously not affect those with straight 5.1 setups, nor those with 6.1 non-THX processors. This is not apparently the fault of the soundtrack per se, but an issue that has arisen as a result of changes to the specifications of embedded EX flags and the resultant confusion this engenders in some EX processors.

    I listened to the English dialogue track.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, even during action sequences.

    There are no problems with audio sync in this transfer.

    The score for Pearl Harbor is provided by Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer, and perfectly suits the on-screen action at the same time as being very good in its own right.

    The surround channels are very actively used throughout the movie and really come to life during the impressive action sequences. During most scenes they are used to support the score or ambient sound, but when the action sequences kick into life, the advantage of discrete surround channels really becomes evident.

    The subwoofer is used as aggressively as the surround channels where necessary, backing up the explosions, engines, bullet impacts and virtually every other imaginable source of low frequency sound very impressively indeed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Being a "bare-bones" rental disc, there are no extras present.


    The menu features motion video from the film in the background with portions of the score playing as accompaniment. The only concern here is the red (Japanese flag style) dot used to mark the currently highlighted option, which is sometimes hard to see because of the dark red-on-black colour choices.

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;     It really is quite unfair to compare a bare-bones rental disc with a fully featured R1 sell through disc, and a more meaningful comparison will be able to be made after the release of the R4 sell-through versions later in 2002. It should also be kept in mind that the R1 version contains the movie split over two discs, and therefore requires changing the discs at the conclusion of the Japanese attack.


    Pearl Harbor is a great actioner melded with a hokey romance that just manages to form a "so bad it's good" combination. It is presented on a high quality DVD.

    The video is of a very high quality, let down only by some of the "artistic" choices made for the source material resulting in overly high levels of film grain.

    The audio quality is exceptional, presenting an almost perfect soundtrack.

    There are absolutely no extras included in this release.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Thursday, January 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayRCA 80cm. 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)

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