The best way to see the movie is as I did: expecting nothing and being pleasantly surprised, and strangely moved, by Mr. Bay's audacity in filming his lovers in end-of-the-world close-ups, however briefly.
For all the 118 actors listed, the movie offers almost no sense of authentic humanity. The faces the filmmakers plaster on their characters are as flat and stereotyped as those on war-recruitment posters.
Leave it to Bay and Bruckheimer to reduce one of America's biggest military tragedies into a three-hour avalanche of Kodak moments, and one of America's defining crises into a facile exercise in fake uplift.
While the film manages to drag the actual attack out to 45 minutes of its ponderous 183 minute running time, that still leaves a lot of movie to be taken up by what passes for plot -- a convoluted romance of the heavily cliched kind.
Those who should be offended are American veterans. Their service has been reduced to a sentimental fable of two heroic pilots and their noble lass proving their gumption and their bravery. Even as a tall tale, it's puny.
Even the much-vaunted depiction of the Japanese attack, while often visually arresting, still suffers from over-frenetic editing and more emphasis on adventure thrills than befits the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.