Region 1 review.
Movie (130 minutes on disk 1, 54 minutes on disk 2)
How should I review this movie? It’s been hyped, scrutinized, brutalized and criticized to no end. The movie is pretty much ‘Titanic’ only taking place in Pearl Harbor and with a love triangle. It doesn’t succeed too well. I’ll mention right now that, from what I remember of the theatrical version, I prefer the director’s cut. The differences aren’t immense, but they’re there.
I’ve always said the biggest problem with this movie is the script. That’s not a big surprise considering it comes from (Mr. Hack) Randall Wallace. He tries to shove ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ into one movie but fails on both counts (sort of). I’ll start with the dramatic aspects.
All the actors in this movie are good. Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Dan Aykroyd, Ewan Bremner, Tom Sizemore and Jennifer Garner have all given good performances in other projects (either television or movies or tv movies), so they are good actors. Since ‘Bad Boys’ (here), I’ve gone through phases of adoring and detesting director Michael Bay, but I’ve learned to go easy on him. I don’t completely blame him for this movie. Now I’ve learned to mostly blame Mr. Wallace. It’s not completely his fault, but I’ll be stubborn and blame him anyway. I’ve always said the movie could have been better with a better script. I still think that’s true. Okay, so Mr. Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer should have been smart enough to realize the dialogue was laughable, but Mr. Bay and Mr. Bruckheimer have always been concerned with making money, not having an award-winning script. I also don’t know how many re-writes (if any) didn’t include Wallace, but only Wallace is credited, so in my mind he should take the blame for most of the dialogue. Listening to the Michael Bay commentary track, I think I should be more lenient with Mr. Wallace, but I’m stubborn and I’ll blame him more than Mr. Bay. That said, the dialogue is terrible. On his commentary track, Ben Affleck said that they tried to write dialogue the same way people spoke back in the early forties. ‘it’s broken’ ‘what? your nose’ ‘no, my heart’ (okay, so it’s not exactly that, but you get what I mean). I have watched a lot of old movies from that era, and I’ve never heard anything like that. I think better dialogue could have been written even if they did try for the 1940s speech. Earnest dialogue doesn’t have to be corny. (Just look at Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder.) The acting is bad, and I’ll blame Mr. Bay for that, partly because of him and partly because of the bad dialogue (some of the dialogue was his doing). He should have known better, though. (Mr. Bay’s human story in ‘Armageddon’ is also very bad so I’ll assume he doesn’t know how to do emotional scenes.) The problem is that I don’t know how many sappy scenes were written in the script before the movie started. The scene on the side of the carrier, or the scene in the hangar, or the Pearl Harbor sunset-scene in the plane are all ridiculous. They’re nice to look at, mind you, but they’re really cheesy.
This movie is a prime example of that line in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ about words cluttering up the movie. This movie would’ve been much better as a silent movie. Mr. Bay’s forté is the visuals. Some of the (non-action) scenes are truly nice to look at, even if they are clichéd nowadays. Clichéd visuals don’t really bother me because you always have a different director shooting them, so you can see him/her through those scenes. Mr. Bay seems to like to concentrate on moments in time rather than flow (that is, when there’s no action going on). This is pretty evident in the scene when the train comes in, and everything is rather dark, and Kate and Ben meet amidst the white steam; or in the scene where Ben leaves for England – the train station looks great. The cinematographer (John Schwartzman) did a terrific job shooting that scene. It’s just eye candy, but it’s really nice eye candy. The problem is that visual style can’t carry a weak script with bad dialogue. So, even though that’s a problem, it’s why I don’t blame Mr. Bay as much as Mr. Wallace. Silent movies don’t really have dialogue, so Wallace would’ve had nothing to do with that part of the movie, while visuals are more or less the most important thing, so Bay’s vision is much more important. Bottom line about this point: Mr. Bay does inject something worthwhile into a scene, even if it is just the visuals.
Now for the action parts. I say Wallace failed on that count also; they are good because Michael Bay (‘Armageddon’, ‘The Rock’, ‘Bad Boys 2’) directed this movie. I’ve seen ‘We Were Soldiers’ (see my review), which Wallace directed, and I didn’t like the movie. I found the action scenes lacked life. With Mr. Bay, however, the action scenes are great. One thing he does know how to do (and do well) is action. The scenes are breathtaking and intense. The attack on Pearl Harbor is probably one of the most spectacular action sequences ever done. After saying this, though, I have to admit that I’ve always wondered how much work his second unit does. One thing that is very uneven about the war scenes is that the movie is PG-13. Everything about this movie is PG-13, but here and there during the raid we see brief glimpses of an arm being blown off, or of a head rolling towards the camera, or of someone looking at his intestines. I found that funny because in all the glossy PG-13 violence there are these really graphic images flashing here and there for a half-second at a time. Overall, though the attack sequences are something to behold. The Doolittle raid is also a sight to see, even though the attack isn’t very long, and really shouldn’t have been bothered with. There’s the build-up, a minute or two of bombing, and the wrap-up. I personally think the movie shouldn’t have bothered with the last 45 minutes. It’s like another mini-movie (like someone on one of the commentaries said), that seems out of place in a movie about Pearl Harbor. The bomb dropping and explosions are nice, as you’d expect, but it’s over much too quickly so Bay can get into the very final part of the movie.
One last thing that is really annoying is the patriotism. It’s Pearl Harbor, I get it. I don’t need to hear all the speeches and rantings about why it was wrong; I’ve heard them all before and heard them put more eloquently. Also, of course the movie can’t end with the destruction of Pearl Harbor. Wallace had to end the movie on the Tokyo raid. To me, that didn’t seem necessary. (I suppose at this point, if it isn’t already obvious, I should mention I’m Canadian.) The Dolittle Raid and its success could have been put in a few lines on a black screen, telling us what happened, but it had to be shown to shove another cliché down our throats, which I won’t say but involves a death. The movie is already full of clichés, this one really didn’t need to be there.
Okay, so how do I end it? I bought this DVD for the extras. The movie itself tries very hard to entertain but only half succeeds. Watching the movie, I saw that Mr. Bay had good intentions but didn’t seem to have his head in the right place. This is truly one of those movies where the last half is better than the first half. The action sequences are great and if for no other reason the movie should be watched for those. The first half is really bad. I still stand by my word that this movie could have been good with a better script. I suppose the movie more or less had its heart in the right place, trying to be an epic romance, but forgot what it was about somewhere along the way. The potential was there, but it didn’t get used.
Commentary 1: director Michael Bay and professor Jeannine Basinger
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. There’s 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. It’s not as interesting as it probably should be, but it’s 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. There’s 125 different personalities crammed into a few characters that are spewing the bad dialogue. Everybody has a few expressions they like saying while they talk. (I know someone who says ‘I see’ a lot, and I often say ‘okay’ and ‘cool’ and these types of things.) So I’m guessing Mr. Bay took all the expressions these people said and had two or three characters say everything. So all the clichéd expressions the veterans used during their lives are shoved into 3 hours. That’s 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 it’s 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 it’s by no means a bad track. It’s just that it’s not as enthusiastic as was expected, considering it was a Michael Bay track.
Commentary 2: producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and actors Alec Baldwin, Josh
Hartnett and Ben Affleck
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 Bruckheimer’s track (that’s my best guess). I’ll start with Baldwin’s 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. It’s interesting stuff for history buffs. Bruckheimer talks about his beginnings in the movie business (although I might be confusing this track with an interview in ‘The Rock’ DVD; I listened to this track a while ago and I don’t want to spend another few hours watching ‘Pearl Harbor’ just for this detail), how the movie came about, how it got made and the premiere at Pearl Harbor (for the premiere, it’s either him or Baldwin, I can remember). I’m interested in the movie business so I found his thoughts nice to listen to but I’m glad it wasn’t just him talking for the 3 hours. With Affleck and Hartnett, however, I wouldn’t 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). (I have to point out here, though, that I frequent a message board on the internet, where many people put ‘Pearl Harbor’ as one of their favorite movies.) On the serious side they talk about September 11th a bit, and address some of the problems with the movie (sometimes they’re 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. It’s the first Affleck commentary I’ve heard and it was a very nice experience.
Commentary 3: cinematographer John Schwartzman, production designer
Nigel Phelps, costume designer Michael Kaplan, supervising art director
Martin Laing and composer Hans Zimmer
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. He’s the one who talks the most, which isn’t too bad because he’s fairly interesting. He mostly talks about shot composition and lighting, though (given he’s the cinematographer, that shouldn’t 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 (Danny’s father) at the beginning doesn’t really go anywhere, and that the final hour (the Doolittle raid) shouldn’t 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 – moving from place to place, trying to fulfill Bay’s vision and the like. Martin Laing doesn’t really talk much. As far I could tell he speaks only about 5 times or so. For what it’s worth, he could have been taken out completely, or been given a separate track with some other people. Zimmer doesn’t 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 ‘Pearl Harbor’, there’s ample amount of information to give out. These 5 guys do a nice all-around job.
Easter egg (disk 1)
‘Why Letterbox?’ It’s just a 2 ½-minute piece saying that full-frame cuts out almost half of what was seen in the theatres. I’m a stickler for the director’s vision, so I already knew everything in this thing, but for some reason I always like to watch how much is chopped off during a full-frame presentation. It just irks me that much more.
Making-of ‘Pearl Harbor’
It runs around 47 minutes, and even though it’s glossy, it’s still nice to watch. The documentary talks about the entire movie from start to finish. You get a great view of the insane scope of this movie while watching this thing. There are a lot of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, which I particularly liked, but the thing I enjoyed the most out of the documentary was the veterans talking about what happened to them during the actual attack. I found it fascinating hearing the stories. (It sounds morbid, I know, but I still found it fascinating.) I wouldn’t have minded more of those types of interviews. It might be glossy but it’s still a very nice documentary.
Gag reel. It’s around 11 minutes in length, where the last 4 or 5 minutes are a sort of nostalgia-inducing montage. The first 7 minutes show the cast and crew laughing and having a good time, amidst screwing up some lines. One thing I have to say about Michael Bay DVDs is that they always have a gag reel, which are always fun to have. A lot more movies should have these.
First of all, anything you choose to see will have a brief written introduction as to what you’re about to see. I find it a nice thought on the part of the DVD producers.
Five different things in this section. They are:
Ten featurettes add up to a great documentary about the abnormally large scale this movie contains. Some of the featurettes have an optional Michael Bay commentary. (For the sake of length and simplicity, WOC means ‘with optional commentary’, okay?)
‘Airfield Attack’ (7:51, WOC) is the scene where the Japanese fighters shoot at the airfield before Ben and Josh can get up in the air (before they go to the smaller airfield); ‘Baja Gimbal’ (7:08) shows the Arizona tipping over, with all the stunt people on it, and has voiceovers by Bruckheimer, Bay and John Frazier (F/X guy); ‘Battleship Row’ (6:17, WOC) shows the insanely huge explosions they shot when the Japanese planes blew up the battleships; ‘Dorrie Miller’ (6:44, WOC) concentrates on Cuba Gooding, Jr. and his small role in the Pearl Harbor attack sequence, ‘Dud Bomb’ (7:22, WOC) has the scene with the Japanese bomb bounching everywhere; ‘Mechanics Row’ (7:39, WOC) is the scene with Tom Sizemore and the exploding hangar; ‘Nurse Strafing’ (3:58, WOC) shows the nurses being shot at by the planes, and has voiceovers by some of the actresses playing the nurses (any extra Jennifer Garner (and Kate Beckinsale for that matter) is a good thing, even if it is for only a few seconds); ‘Sandbag Stunt’ (5:09, WOC) shows a stunt that I can’t say because it only lasts 2 seconds on screen and is sandwiched between other insane stunts, and so is lost (you have to see this to know what stunt it is); ‘Doolittle Raid’ (6:44) shows how they shot the take-off sequence, and has Bay in voiceover talking about his experience about being in control of a battleship for 3 hours; ‘Arizona Dive’ (3:52) has a voiceover from Michael Bay talking about his experience and shows him diving in the waters and filming the sunken Arizona ship.
The commentaries range from no relation to the scene whatsoever (or very little relation, like in Mechanics Row), to very scene specific (like in Dorrie Miller). Sometimes too sparse for my taste (like in Sandbag Stunt), but always interesting. He talks about the production of the movie, the how the scenes were done, the troubles they went through and his personal experience and thoughts about the movie. This is more of a place where Bay is laid back and has a chance to give out information that he didn’t mention on his commentary track for the movie. It’s nice.
You get two choices here:
Here you have Josh Hartnett, Ben Affleck, Ewan Bremner, Matt Davis, Ray, and 8 other people going through a very abridged version of boot camp. It’s almost 16 minutes long, and kind of funny to watch. It shows the basic exercises they went through, and some of the drills they had to do. Mr. Affleck looks like he doesn’t want to be there, and it’s sort of funny to see the actors’ faces while going through the torture they call training.
This is a 6-minute feature and shows Alec Baldwin going through the comparatively very mild officer training. He seems to have it very easy compared to the others, and seems to enjoy what he’s doing very much. Quite an odd contrast with the mud-soaked pain Hartnett, Affleck and friends had to endure.
This is only 4 ½ minutes long, but could be a lot longer. It’s some of the newsreel footage they shot but didn’t use. I actually think most of what is in here should have been used in the movie. The footage seems very real and is very striking, so it would have had a much greater emotional impact than what’s in the movie. That’s just what I think.
Two minutes long. I don’t remember seeing exactly this teaser, but it’s a good one. Too bad the movie didn’t live up to the hype. One comical thing is that Mr. Hartnett is credited as ‘Joshua’ in this thing.
The trailer, this time with simply ‘Josh’ Hartnett, is about 3 minutes long and basically repeats what’s in the teaser, but hints at the love story. It’s okay, but it kind of hints at the possible cheesiness of the movie.
Only three things here, but no less substantial. Here they are:
One Hour Over Tokyo
This is a History Channel special about the Doolittle Raid. It lasts about 46 minutes and is very interesting. It talks about the reasons, execution and consequences of the raid. It’s very informative and very welcomed. They interview the surviving members of the raid, all of whom describe very nicely what their stories were.
Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor
This one is a little shorter than the first, being about 45 ½ minutes. This one talks about the people who are forgotten today but did some heroic things on that morning. It’s another History Channel show, and it starts its narrative a few hours before the attack, with the sinking of a Japanese mini-sub, and ends the day after with the rescue of some trapped soldiers. Some of the Pearl Harbor survivors talk about their experience of that day. I preferred this one to the other one; it talked about Pearl Harbor and had more material to work with, while the other one seemed a bit long. Watching the old war footage from these to shows, it’s very evident where Michael Bay got the inspiration for some of his shots of aerial battles.
Oral History: Recollections of Pearl Harbor Nurse
This is 5 minutes and 42 seconds long, and is a really interesting 5 minutes. As the title points out, it’s a nurse telling us an experience of that day. It seems rehearsed, and so kind of fake. I would have preferred that nurse saying things without anything written down, but it’s still very moving and gives you a small sense of what the nurses went through that day.
You also have the Supplements Part 2 Index (the stuff you’ll find on disk 4), if you want to know what’s on that.
Three things here. Here they are:
Interactive Attack Sequence
Four different angles and 7 different audio channels can be chosen while viewing a 27 ½-minutes scene of the Pearl Harbor attack. The four angles are: 1-the movie, 2-on the set, 3-storyboards and animatics and 4-combination of angles 1, 2 and 3. The seven audio channels are: 1-the movie (in Dolby Digital 5.1), 2-on the set, 3-music only, 4-sound effects only, 5-commentary by Eric Brevig, 6-commentary by storyboard artist Robert Consing and 7-commentary by Pearl Harbor survivors, both Japanese and American.
Where do I start with this? The commentaries are fine, and the best one was one of the survivors. Mr. Brevig talks about the effects and sort of repeats what he says in the ‘Deconstructing Destruction’ feature at times. He talks enough, given that the attack sequence is pretty effects heavy. The track by Concing is probably the funniest, because he asks a few rhetorical questions and gives out a few sarcastic comments. He mostly talks about how he got to be a storyboard artist, and gives out his philosophy about what storyboards should do. He’s pretty interesting. Like I said, the best one, for me anyways, was the survivors track. You have the Japanese airmen talking about what their orders were, and what they saw and what they did. You also have many American survivors talking about what happened to them that day. It’s pretty intense, and pretty scary. I’m glad they had this track on here. Oh yeah, the English subtitles for the Japanese men can only be seen on Angle 4. The angle I preferred was the on the set one. The storyboards and animatics can be seen individually elsewhere on this set (so can certain behind-the-scenes stuff, mind you). I always enjoy seeing what goes on behind the cameras, so it was a nice thing to have that angle there. The rest of the audio tracks are what you’d expect them to be. It’s nice to hear all the different layers, and hear how the final mix all melds them together.
Deconstructing Destruction: A Conversation on Visual Effects with Michael
Bay and Eric Brevig
There is the main feature, with the choice to branch off to more detailed explanations of certain scenes. The main feature is about 21 ½ minutes with the ten branches totaling a bit less than 22 minutes. (By my count, the entire thing should last 43 minutes and 16 seconds.) It’s very interesting. I was really curious as to how some of the shots were accomplished, like the signature bomb shot with the camera following behind it and the Arizona explosion, and those shots are nicely explained in here. The branches have different visual effects people talking about whatever shot is presented. Oddly enough, I found the branches more interesting. They went into more detail and explained more how they were done. Mr. Bay and Brevig are relaxed and joke about the extravagant cost of some shots. I think they had a better time doing their part rather than I did watching them. That’s not to say they’re completely boring. They jest with each other and give out some thoughts and broad information about the shots they present.
This is an animatic they used to sell the movie to visualize what the attack sequence was going to be like, and to decide what to shoot and what shots to do completely CG. It’s 5 minutes and 43 seconds long and has the main crew that worked on the movie (director, producer, visual effects people) talking over it, explaining things. It shows the first 2 waves of attack on Pearl Harbor, the battle of Britain and the Dolittle Raid. It’s a nice thing to see. What’s in here is pretty much exactly what’s on screen. It really takes a visual director to do this kind of thing and pull it off well.
You can choose between ‘Begin Timeline’ or ‘Timeline Index’. The former is the detailed timeline with the specific events contained within the different time periods, the former lets you choose a specific time period, or lets you choose to see the entire timeline.
There are five eras to browse, each with 4 different events. They go as follows:
-The Age of Exploration: Separate Worlds (1846-1852, 4:35 long), The Perry Voyage (1853-1859, 4:34), The Turbulant ‘60s (1860-1868, 1:56) and Emperor Meiji (1868-1870, 3:14).
-Age of Imperialism: New Frontiers (1870-1894, 5:22), Hawaii (1895-1896, 2:45), The Spanish-American War (1897-1902, 3:15) and The Russo-Japanese War (1903-1905, 2:15).
-End of the Old Order: Korea & California (1906-1908, 3:02), Dollar Diplomacy (1908-1910, 3:09), The Death of Meiji (1911-1913, 2:20) and The Great War (1914-1919, 3:59).
-Jazz, Planes and a New Deal: The Washington Conference (1920-1924, 3:10), Hector Bywater (1925-1928, 2:29), The Great Depression (1929-1930, 2:17) and Manchukuo (1931-1932, 5:08).
-Dance of Death: Propaganda (1934-1936, 2:03), The Rape of Nanking (1938-1939, 3:42), Fascism (1940-1941, 3:29) and Final Moves (1940-1942, 5:38).
The titles are pretty self-explanatory, and given that this review is already 5000 words plus, I’ll not really describe what goes on in each of the featurettes.
This is a pretty informative feature. There’s a lot of information packed into this one hour. It basically shows the relations between the United States and Japan starting from 1846 up until Pearl Harbor. It shows the idiocy, intelligence, common sense (and lack of common sense) on both sides. All the different featurettes give out a nice account of what their title is, like, say, what Hector Bywater wrote and its consequences, or the story behind the acquisition of Hawaii. Obviously, what’s said in these is not the whole story; there other things going on in the world besides the US and Japanese trying to get more land. It is a good overview, though, and is a very welcomed addition to the set.
You can choose between the five ages, ‘Age of Exploration’(1846-1870), ‘Age of Imperialism’ (1870-1905), ‘End of the Old Order’ (1906-1919), ‘Jazz, Planes and a New Deal’ (1920-1932) and ‘Dance of Death’ (1920-1942), and pick the specific video you want to see, or you can choose to watch all the different little featurettes. In all, it totals close to 69 minutes.
There are six galleries: Production Design has seven subcategories: air base, hospital, White House, Japan, naval yards/ships, New York Club and costume design; Publicity, with 5 subcategories: banners, bus shelter posters, Japanese release, lobby cards and U.S posters; Historical, Storyboards, ILM and Stan Winston’s Special Effects Makeup.
The most interesting is by far the historical section, as it shows photos, recruitment posters, documents and newspaper covers from around the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. The storyboards are those of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and they’re the same as in the animatics and the movie. I find if funny that posters to the Japanese release have this ‘Gone with the Wind’ look to them.
You also have the Supplements Part 1 Index (the stuff you’ll find on disk 3), if you care to see what’s found on that disk.
You can cruise through the names of the people who made this DVD possible. I guess I should mention the menus at this point. The menus are absolutely amazing. They’re easy to go through, and they’re also very nice to look at. They’re very well done and nicely animated. Good job to those who did the menus.
Hell, great job to those who did the DVD. Not including the movie, all the extras add up to more than 18 ½ hours of stuff. I preferred ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ DVD (here). All of the extras were done specifically for the DVD, while this one had a couple of History Channel specials. This set is still incredible, though, and well worth having. There are a lot of great features. The only real thing that’s annoying is the case. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very imaginative, very well made, comes with lobby cards and a booklet written by Michael Bay, but it’s just a royal pain to try to get the disks out of their places. You know what, though, that small pain is definitely worth the 18 hours of extras on here.
This is one of those times that I wish I had a 5.1 system. The 2.0 track they offer is great as far as 2.0 tracks go: I always understood everything that was being said, the score and the effects were always perfectly balanced. I have no complaints. I listened to the attack sequence on DTS, so I can talk about the sound in that sequence. Why only the attack sequence? Don’t ask. In any case, the sound effects are tremendous. The planes buzz around your head for that whole sequence. You really believe planes are passing behind you or in front of you or where-have-you. The bullets fly everywhere. Front center to back left, back right to front left, front middle to back middle – they fly everywhere your speakers point. The subwoofer gets a workout like you’ve never heard: it pretty much never stops for a whole half-hour. When that bomb hit the Arizona, I said ‘watch this, Pat’, and when it blew up so did the room. I’ve never heard anything like this before, and even though it’s not the best movie in the world, the sound and picture quality is right up there with the best of them.
2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. All the sweet, sugar-coated visuals Michael Bay filmed are all seen in great detail here. The video is great. The black level is great, the separation is great and the contrast is great. There’s no pixelation at all and the colours are great. Even if you didn’t like anything about this entire set, you have to admit that the picture is great.