No one goes to watch a Michael Bay movie expecting historical accuracy. But the chasm between Pearl Harbor the movie and real Pearl Harbor facts, as shown in photos from December 7, 1941, is clear. The film contains an armada-sized number of errors about the military, including the wrong planes, nuclear-powered subs before the advent of nuclear power, and magical 21st-century radio technology.
And then there are all the plot holes, like how Ben Affleck broke US law by joining the Royal Air Force (RAF), and how the movie claims the climactic scene was the turning point in a months-old war that continued for several more years. Plus, the movie ignores 1940s racism while treating Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character as a token, and neglects many WWII contributions from women. In contrast, consider films like Saving Private Ryan, which was so realistic, it reportedly triggered veterans' PTSD.
While historians have found numerous historical inaccuracies in Pearl Harbor, at least one thinks some good may come from the movie. Professor Bruce Reynolds said, "The best thing that could happen is that people will see it, be entertained, and come away interested in why this stuff happened."
Another history professor, Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, had a slightly less optimistic take: "Another Pearl Harbor movie will come along sooner or later, and it will most likely be better." Fans of Michael Bay movies might still appreciate the film for its drama or special effects, but it's time to admit Pearl Harbor barely gets any history correct.