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Pearl Harbor (2001)

NOTE: These commentaries are only available on the "Vista Series Director's Cut" release of Pearl Harbor.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Michael Bay and film historian Jeanine Basinger Rating:7.9/10 (23 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by pat00139 on March 2nd, 2006:Find all reviews by pat00139
This track was recorded roughly 250 hours after September 11th, says Michael Bay. The first part of the commentary is talk of parallels between the two events. After that, they keep the serious tone, and talk about the technicalities of getting the movie done. Thereís some overlap between this track an the technical one. They also get into the historical facts that were kept in the movie. Mrs. Basinger asks all the questions and Michael answers them. Itís not as interesting as it probably should be, but itís still better than listening to the actual movie. Hearing this track, I could easily see where some of the bad dialogue came from. The problem is that Michael Bay interviewed many Pearl Harbor veterans, and he used the expressions they used in the movie. Thereís 125 different personalities crammed into a few characters that are spewing the bad dialogue. Iím guessing Mr. Bay took all the expressions these people said and had two or three characters say everything. So all the clichťd expressions the veterans used during their lives are shoved into 3 hours. Thatís my take anyway. Mr. Bay does admit that one thing he would change if he could would be the earnest dialogue because the younger people seem to think itís corny, even though, as Mrs. Basinger says, people from her generation find nothing wrong with it. This is probably the commentary I enjoyed the least, but itís by no means a bad track. Itís just that itís not as enthusiastic as was expected, considering it was a Michael Bay track.
Reviewed by Bakersfield on August 20th, 2015:Find all reviews by Bakersfield
Jeanine Basinger is a legend as far as film historians are concerned, and having her on the commentary track is simply brilliant. There is a nice balance between her and Bay, she compliments the stuff she sees, and since they're close friends she is not afraid to ask more specific, tougher questions. Like "What was your intention here, Michael?", "Why you shot it this way?" and so on.

Bay, as always, is pretty honest and open and he covers pretty much everything you can think of. The commentary was recorded right after 9/11 and, as you can expect, there's some talk about that too.

Fans of the movie, this is a commentary you don't want to miss. Check it out.
Reviewed by Damon_82 on February 6th, 2017:Find all reviews by Damon_82
Usually, Mike Bay goes solo on his DVD commentaries, but on this one he's joined by a good friend and a mentor: Jeanine Basinger. If you're a hardcore film buff, then you know very well who Basinger is. The track was recorded shortly after September 11th and you can sense that the mood is not exactly joyful. Basinger is mainly focused on the academic look of the film, the history of those types of films, and she asks Bay a lot of interesting questions about his decisions as a director of such a huge movie and his intentions behind certain scenes. It's a nice, quiet conversation/film discussion between two smart people and fans of the movie will surely appreciate it.

I know I did.
Commentary 2: Director of photography John Schwartzman, costume designer Michael Kaplan, production designer Nigel Phelps, supervising art director Michael Lang, and composer Hans Zimmer Rating:8.1/10 (20 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by pat00139 on March 2nd, 2006:Find all reviews by pat00139
A very nice technical track. The most frustrating thing is that there are no effects people in here. Even with the other stuff on the other disks, I still would have enjoyed hearing someone talk about what the shots were and how they were accomplished. John Schwartzman, though, does talk about the effects a fair bit, especially during the attack sequence. Heís the one who talks the most, which isnít too bad because heís fairly interesting. He mostly talks about shot composition and lighting, though (given heís the cinematographer, that shouldnít surprise anybody). One thing I really like about him is that he mentions his personal views about the movie. For instance, he thinks the small scene with William Fichtner (Dannyís father) at the beginning doesnít really go anywhere, and that the final hour (the Doolittle raid) shouldnít have been put in because it seems like another mini-movie that seems out of place in a movie about Pearl Harbor. Being an (aspiring) amateur photographer, I found the way some of the scenes were shot interesting. He and Michael Kaplan are together, and the other three seem to have been recorded separately. Michael has some small things to say here and there, obviously, about the costumes. He basically mentions that what you see is pretty much accurate to what the uniforms actually were. I wish Nigel Phelps would have spoken more. On a period piece the production design is always important and there could have been many small trivia tidbits. What he does say is standard production design stuff Ė moving from place to place, trying to fulfill Bayís vision and the like. Martin Laing doesnít really talk much. As far I could tell he speaks only about 5 times or so. For what itís worth, he could have been taken out completely, or been given a separate track with some other people. Zimmer doesnít talk much either, but he is sort of interesting when he does speak. He mostly talks about his philosophy towards movie music. The track is interesting, and like the other commentaries, makes the movie go by faster than the dialogue. There is some dead air, but with 5 technical people, on a movie like ĎPearl Harborí, thereís ample amount of information to give out. These 5 guys do a nice all-around job.
Reviewed by Damon_82 on February 6th, 2017:Find all reviews by Damon_82
The reviewer above me (pat00139) pretty much said it all. It is indeed surprising that there are no people from the visual effects team, but on the other hand we have John Schwartzman. And just as he did on the "Armageddon" commentary, he provides a wide range of information about the making of "Pearl Harbor" (not just from a DP's point of view) and even adds his own thoughts on opinions on certain scenes. Zimmer and Phelps are interesting as well, but their time on the track is quite limited. I'm sure they had a lot more to say, but damn those heavily edited commentaries...

All in all an interesting track that would definitely have been much more informative and complete if there were people from the visual effects team.
Commentary 3: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and actors Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Alec Baldwin Rating:8.0/10 (24 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by stuartbannerman on October 25th, 2004:Find all reviews by stuartbannerman
This had me in stitches. On such a semi serious film i didnt expect to hear Ben and Josh ripping the pee out of each other.....impressive and entertaining stuff.
Reviewed by pat00139 on March 2nd, 2006:Find all reviews by pat00139
This track is a very good one. Without Affleck and Hartnett, I think it would have still been interesting if only to learn about Dolittle and the production of the movie. Bruckheimer and Baldwin were recorded separately, seemingly only a few days after September 11th. Affleck and Hartnett were recorded together, about a month after Bruckheimerís track (thatís my best guess). Iíll start with Baldwinís thoughts. He talks the least, and is probably the least interesting, but does have some neat things to say. He (and the others, actually) talk about the attack on Pearl Harbor and how it parallels the attack on the World Trade Center. He also talks about James Dolittle (the character he portrays) and what Dolittle did in his life and in the military. Itís interesting stuff for history buffs. Bruckheimer talks about how the movie came about, how it got made and the premiere at Pearl Harbor (for the premiere, itís either him or Baldwin, I can remember). Iím interested in the movie business so I found his thoughts nice to listen to but Iím glad it wasnít just him talking for the 3 hours. With Affleck and Hartnett, however, I wouldnít have minded it one bit. These guys are a hoot. They make fun of each other, of Bay and Bruckheimer, and Baldwin. They are having a lot of fun together. They are also the only people who address the bad critical reception of the movie (Bay talks about it a bit, but not much). On the serious side they talk about September 11th a bit, and address some of the problems with the movie (sometimes theyíre more serious about them, like the dialogue thing, and sometimes they make fun of the problems, like the scene in the hangar). These two guys are great together.
Reviewed by Taishi81 on June 6th, 2010:Find all reviews by Taishi81
One of my favorite commentaries. Ben and Josh are recorded together, and they rip the film apart. Alec Baldwin is recorded separately and he is a total apologist for this film. He thinks it was brilliant and misunderstood. Just a hilarious pleasure to contrast these two polar opposite views.
Reviewed by Damon_82 on February 6th, 2017:Find all reviews by Damon_82
All the participants are smart, interesting people and it's great to listen to them. But unlike most folks, who seem to prefer the funny bits from Hartnett and Affleck, I have to say that the most interesting speaker (for me) is Baldwin, followed closely by Bruckheimer.

Baldwin makes it clear from the get-go that he really likes the movie, mainly for the fact that it's "very un-ironic" ("It's a film you would make 50-60 years ago"). Just like Bruckheimer, he's a soft-spoken, intelligent guy who doesn't stumble when he talks and he's able to explain in a very eloquent way why he decided to join the production, what are the things he admires about it, the political side of it all, his character, and why, at the end of the day, he's proud of the finished movie.

Clearly Baldwin is very educated in terms of cinema and history, and it really would've been awesome to have him and Bruckheimer together on this track. Instead, they're edited together. Still, a packed commentary with lots of very interesting stories and trivia about the making of this epic movie and the history behind it. Hartnett and Affleck provide the funny, while Bruckheimer and Baldwin keep it serious and deliver, in my opinion, the most interesting bits of information and historical trivia.