Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) Review
Tora! Tora! Tora! is the single best movie ever made about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It features excellent performances from acting talent such as James Whitmore, E.G. Marshall, Jason Robards, Joseph Cotten, Wesley Addy, Neville Brand, and Martin Balsam. The special effects are far more convincing than what’s in modern movies. It also has some of the best music. Best of all, the movie shows the sheer complacency on the U.S. side that enabled the Japanese to successfully mount the surprise attack.
While by today's standards, the movie may seem slow-paced, the details of the events leading up to the attack are gratifying and educational. The action is thrilling, well-paced, and in its use of models, actual planes, and other equipment, is extremely realistic with few distracting anachronisms.
What is especially impressive is the scale of the special effects. This was the blueprint for the quality of special effects in motion pictures before digital technology was introduced. No expense was spared. The aircraft used are all faithful reconstructions, which is rare in today’s Hollywood. It would be awesome to see a documentary about how this movie was produced, complete with special effects that were far better than the CGI stuff in Pearl Harbor.
This is a fine movie that should be used by schools and war museums. History teachers should definitely use this film in their classes. In other words, this is history told at its best. This is a mature, thinking man’s film.
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This movie was nominated for a sizable number of awards, including the Academy Award in art direction, cinematography, editing, sound, and visual effects, and it won the Oscar for the latter category. It was also nominated for the National Board of Review's award for Best Picture and also nominated for the Eddie Award from American Cinema Editors, USA for Best Edited Feature Film. Tora! Tora! Tora! was also nominated for the Laurel Awards in the categories of Best Picture and Best Cinematography.
Tora! Tora! Tora! is the absolute best movie ever made about Pearl Harbor. It is far superior to Michael Bay’s schmaltzy, inaccurate, and CGI-heavy soap opera Pearl Harbor. In fact, it is one of the absolute best movies ever made about World War II. It is a classic motion picture in its own right.
Editor's note: This review originally appeared on OMGN's former sister site FlickZone on Feb. 25, 2005.