Directed by Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer, starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Dan Ackroyd, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore and Ewan Bremner.

Perhaps the most surprising fact about Jerry Bruckheimer's summer blockbuster is not that it's the most expensive film ever made but the obvious omission of Hollywood heavyweights for the title roles. Ben Affleck instead dons the pilot wings of Rafe McCawley, a top flyer (well, he's not going to be a mediocre one, is he?) in the US army. Needless to say, he's also a cheeky maverick along with his equally reckless pal, Danny (Josh Hartnett). Rafe steals the heart of Nurse Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) before setting off for war, while Danny pledges to look after her in his absence (see where this is going?). Before long, news arrives that he has been shot down and is missing presumed dead. Thus begins an uncomplicated, predictable plot that revolves primarily around a love triangle set against the backdrop of the Second World War.

Boy one (Affleck) gets girl (Beckinsale), and loses girl to boy two (Hartnett) when boy one goes missing in action. Boy one then returns from the dead and realises Evelyn's affections now lie with boy two. And so to the whole point of the film: elaborate scenes recreating the bombing of the Hawaiian base orchestrated by George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic. To be fair, the bombing scenes and aerial dog-fights are spectacularly epic and are probably the most realistic things about the film. In a work representing one aspect of WW2 - and one where the US were the victims - the Japanese are of course portrayed as the stereotypical Japs of old films, the ultimate war nemesis.

'Pearl Harbor' strays too far into 'Titantic' territory, fusing big budget action with a smattering of mushy sentimentalism. At three hours, it is overlong and self-indulgent. Affleck's arrogance is thankfully countered by Josh Hartnett's engaging performance as the second fiddle love interest. Beckinsale's performance won't melt any hearts, while Alec Baldwin is comical (in an unintentional way) as General Dolittle. There's no way this insipid, patronizing flick will bomb even though it deserves to. If you don't mind Hollywood vacuity or syrup-topped action, this film needs you.

Sinéad Gleeson