Apocalypse Now versus Michael Bay’s piece of crap Pearl Harbor

apoc2Roger Ebert compared Pearl Harbor (2001) and Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) way back in 2001 when both movies came out, but he has too big a vocabulary to call Michael Bay’s movie a piece of crap on a stick, so I will.  I don’t think I’ll go so far as to get down on my hands and knees to kiss Francis Ford Coppola’s shoes like Ebert did, but Apocalypse Now is a good movie.  It’s a darn good movie.  It has deep themes.  It has analogies, satire, commentary, and everything you could ever want from a meaningful movie.  Apocalypse Now may have even killed the war movie until Steven Spielberg tried his hand at it.

There’s not much to say about Pearl Harbor.  It has all the hallmarks of Michael Bay, which means there is plenty of action and stupid special effects.  There are beautiful women.  There are explosions. If that doesn’t bother you, there’s the inane, annoying characters, and their equally annoying characterization.  The Japanese are the worst victims of this silly screenwriter, who makes the Japanese as sad as a kid at the end of summer, for accomplishing the biggest raid of World War II.  They don’t stand around congratuating themselves, instead they talk for several minutes about how they woke up the fearful “sleeping giant”.  Even Tora, Tora, Tora (1970) had more guts.

Apocalypse Now isn’t about the slaughter, and it really isn’t about the spectacle either, although there is some.  It is mainly about the story. Martin Sheen chugs down the river for a while, and if you’re around about two hours later, you might catch some new footage.  The Redux version is around three hours long and I can see why.  It feels dramatic and weighty even with the idea of pace thrown out the window, and that’s saying something.  I had forgotten what happened midway through his trip down the river, and was caught offguard by the death of one of Martin Sheen’s pals.  The style and the story elements used in the Redux version are amazing, and perfectly build upon one another.  The performances are great.  And the best part is, there’s no Ben Affleck to annoy me.  How the heck am I going to watch Batman v Superman?

apoc1

 

Apocalypse Now Redux Pearl Harbor
Characters – The characters in this movie have a tinge of satire and commentary, but it feels like they belong in this environment.  We become invested in some and disgusted with others.  The dialogue is perfect and very memorable.

WINNER

Characters – The characters are flimsy and have no motivations other than to run away from explosions.  Cuba Gooding Jr shows up, but nobody else has any impact.
Plot – The story of Apocalypse Now is based on Vietnam and is so deep that Marlon Brando doesn’t show up for two hours.  The little things make the story work, and it has definite consequences.  It also tells an anti-war tale or a story of American superiority, depending on your viewpoint.  The best part is, there are different ways to look at the story and its meaning.

WINNER

Plot – The story is the attack on Pearl Harbor, which is fairly straightforward, with a bunch of other crap thrown in for no reason.  The Japanese have no part in their own victory, and are merely plot devices.  It is horribly inaccurate and sappy.  It is a buddy drama, then a romance, then a story about pride and patriotism.  It tries to do everything in three, very long hours.
Action – There isn’t a whole lot of action, but there are some shootouts, stabbings, blood and guts, and explosions.  There isn’t one instance of slow motion or glorifying camera shots.  This isn’t a beauty paegent for war movies, it’s a grim, dirty war movie, and it shows in the action.  The blood may be a little more red than usual on purpose. Action – This movie is a fanfare for action.  The camera zips, dips and rolls without any restraint.  Things explode, people run away in fear, and bullets strafe after them.  That’s repeated about a dozen times.  Unfortunately, the action is the best thing Pearl Harbor has.  I will throw them a bone and say that the action visuals are better than Apocalypse Now.

WINNER?

Direction – There’s no doubt about it, this picture is directed like no other.  It’s amazing and the camera captures almost everything perfectly.  There’s no stupid stuff going on here, so the camera doesn’t play around with hiding behind a tree or cutting away too fast.  It’s traditional and just fits.

WINNER

Direction – The direction in this movie is alright, but there’s not much for Michael Bay to do.  He didn’t inspire Ben Affleck, that’s for sure.  He must have been working too hard on the storyboards and the action visuals.  He forgot everything else.
Environment – This one isn’t even close.  Apocalypse Now could be even more visceral than Saving Private Ryan, which might be debatable.  It’s certainly powerful and authentic looking.  I think the best environments are on the river and at the end in Brando’s strange wonderland.

WINNER

Environment – 1941 Hawaii has no Chinese natives apparently.  The hairstyles look like men today.  The friggin Japanese planes are GREEN for god’s sake, not blue.  Get this piece of crap out of here.

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