review for Tora! Tora! Tora! on AllMovie

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
by Michael Costello review

Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, and Toshio Masuda's account of the attack on Pearl Harbor is a plodding and mediocre film, enlivened by its action scenes. It would have been interesting to see what would this film might have been like had director Akira Kurosawa not dropped out following conflicts with overly controlling studio bosses shortly after the film went into production. Unfortunately, the directors who replaced him in shooting the Japanese material proved to be no more talented than journeyman Richard Fleischer with the American side, and in striving for historical accuracy, they produced a film that is wooden, often badly lit, badly acted, and ponderously slow. The scenes of the tragic bombing are impressive, but they continue uninterrupted for so long that they begin to pall, and one wishes for some kind of counterpoint to gain perspective. Although they have little to work with in the way of characters, Jason Robards Jr., Joseph Cotton, and E.G. Marshall all succeed in injecting some life into the film. Despite its many limitations, the film's faithful condensation of Gordon Prange's eponymous book might make it a useful introduction to the historic event.