Taken in the context of a day of remembrance, Pearl Harbor isn't such a bad flick. Actually, it's a good old-fashioned war movie, part soap opera, part video game, and part history lite. I have nothing against soap opera, and I like a movie better if it has a little romance in it anyway. As for the pyrotechnics, the attack sequence is stunningly pulled off, telling smaller, personal stories as it flashes through the big, world-changing story.
It's the history that's behind the movie that makes it special on this particular day. Real people are behind the characters portrayed, and real acts of bravery and sacrifice turned that horrible day into the beginning of something that would end in victory over tyranny. The DVD has interviews with some of the survivors of Pearl Harbor, and a documentary filled with chilling eyewitness accounts.
The picture is as complete now as we'll ever have it again. The survivors are in their seventies and eighties, and the next quantum leap in film technology will likely come too late to take advantage of their contributions. This movie honors them, along with their fallen comrades, by telling their stories and showing their humanity as well as their heroism. Today it was as important a document as the filmmakers set out to make.
On any other day, the stilted dialog and wooden characters might detract from the experience. I can see where all the lukewarm reviews came from, but I'd rather enjoy the movie for what it is, rather than complain about what it isn't. Sometimes there's more glory in the attempt than in the execution.