Discs Are Rated
Tora! Tora! Tora!
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 145 minutes
Starring Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, E.G. Marshall,
James Whitmore, Jason Robards, Soh Yamaura, Tatsuya Mihashi,
Takahiro Tamura, Eijiro Tono, Koreya Senda
Screenplay by Larry Forrester (American Sequences)
Screenplay by Hideo Oguni and Ryuzo Kikushima (Japanese
Directed by Toshio and Kinji Fukasuka (Japanese
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Retail Price: $29.98
Features: Theatrical Trailers
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 4.1, English Dolby Surround, French Mono, English
Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (31 Chapters),
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a movie that's remembered and
liked, however, I don't think it's given the proper
treatment as it really deserves. It's more like a cult movie
in some ways, it's held in a certain spot. Audiences do
enjoy it, but as far as a movie that's a "war classic",
people don't consider it one. When war movies are discussed,
it's never really mentioned. While I've seen some better war
movies, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is pretty underrated if you ask
me, and has an excellent sense of style as well as an
accurate sense of history. It can be slow at times, however,
it's still very interesting and very well made. The movie
always intrigues me and I find it pretty entertaining in
many respects. The film was nominated for five Academy
Awards® and won for best visual effects, but the other
nominations were in the technical department.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is in documentary style, as we go
back and forth between the United States of America and
Japan and see the development of events that eventually led
to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The film doesn't glorify
everything and doesn't leave anything out. It shows the
mistakes that each side made as well as what they did and
tried to do. The U.S. uses a machine to break Japanese code,
the Japanese plans the attacks and so on. The way it's
presented though you don't get confused, and you're always
wondering what will happen next, even though most of us know
our history and of course, knows what actually happens. If
you never learned about Pearl Harbor and the events, or
forgot or need to know something, or curious for some
additional depth on the subject, I really do recommend that
you check out "Tora! Tora! Tora!". For you school kids out
there, you may want to watch the movie to help you better
understand what you're studying*. (*Note: DVDlaunch does not
encourage watching a movie to study for a test. Take notes,
review your textbook and study hard the old fashioned way!)
What I think is so interesting about "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
is that it's not one sided, it cuts back and forth between
the US and Japan. Scenes are never really dull and are
pretty necessary, as they all come together to tell a very
unique (and true) story. What I also think is really
interesting how the film had two production teams: an
American one for the United States parts and a Japanese one
for the Japanese parts. Each do a superb job creating the
events and tensions people felt, and I really liked how the
Japanese parts are very authentic. They don't speak English,
but rather, Japanese and there are subtitles. While not so
many movies do that as of late and just have people speak
English instead of a native language, I still think it's a
There are also some pretty high production values. I
mentioned the historical accuracy, but the script is quite
intelligent. Things are easy to understand are not
dumb-downed for the masses. The direction is really lean and
tight, giving that good documentary style I mentioned
before. The film also has some breathtaking shots and great
editing to give you a sense like you are there, as well as
that you're never confused. The cinematography and editing
got Oscar® nods. The opening shot, at least I think, is
pretty magnificent. As far as the acting goes, it's decent.
Nothing too spectacular, but it could have been a lot worse.
Still, most of the actors make the roles believable. And the
best for last... the special effects. Wow. The battles are a
bit later on in the film, but they look quite authentic and
If you've never seen it, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a very
rewarding war movie that you'll probably gain a lot out of.
However, Fox recently re-released a
edition, so go for that one.
Presented in the glorious widescreen aspect ratio of
2.35:1, all I have to say that this THX-certified transfer
transfer will drop your jaw to the ground. For a film that's
now over thirty years old, the result is really, really
impressive. The film starts out a little shotty, but really
cleans up. Black level is great, detail is pretty fantastic
and hues as well as fleshtones are really accurate, to help
bring the documentary-style of the film to full life.
However, there are some bits of grain, and the look of the
film is a little bit soft and faded. In the end, it's a
great clean up that really shows that old films can still
look great if given good treatment.
Fox gives us a nifty THX-certified 4.1 track for "Tora!
Tora! Tora!" as well as English Dolby Surround and French
mono tracks. The 4.1 is pretty much mono spread around, and
you can tell the age of the sound due to some pretty low
fidelity. I had to crank my speakers up a bit, but as far as
the actual track, it really did surprise me. There is some
really nice speaker use here, such as with planes flying and
the action sequences. The music sounded excellent too.
However, I felt there could have been better surround use in
some areas and more split surround use, to give a more
enhanced enhanced effect, sort of like actually being there.
I noticed a few missed times where this could have occurred,
but in total, a lot makes up for it with other great sounds
to draw you in. More bass extension would have been nice as
well, but it does a fairly good job during the action
sequences. You'll probably really like this track, and if
you don't, you have a choice of English Surround and French
mono, as well as Japanese and English subtitles.
You get three Theatrical Trailers. One is for
"Tora! Tora! Tora!", and is in full frame and two channel
sound. It looks terrible with a lot of grain, dirt and a
lot, but it's pretty interesting to see an old trailer
compared to so many new ones. It's a little long, and they
make it seem like a whole cliffhanger and try to get you
intrigued (though you should know some of the answers if you
know your history). After so many new trailers, it's a nice
change of pace to watch an old one. There's also trailers
for "Patton" and "The Longest Day", each in non anamorphic
widescreen of 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 aspect ratios, respectively.
The presentation for "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is very well
done, however, go with the new
edition. "Tora! Tora! Tora!"is a very well done,
balanced, intelligent and entertaining movie. If you like
the film, it should definitely go in your collection. If you
haven't seen it, be sure to check it out.
(4/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)