Last week I revisited Cameron for the first time since I was left angry on the night it opened and a day later I watched Pearl Harbor for the first time. My opinion is that both films suffer from a stupid premise that the fictional love story is more important than history.
I will admit that of the two fictional romances, Pearl Harbor's offended me less than Titanic's. Pearl Harbor's romance story is just silly but I find Cameron's offensive in the extreme. In Pearl Harbor the fictional characters are not believable but they're likable. I have never found Jack or Rose likable in the least bit. To me (and this is my opinion), Jack is a loser-drifter in life who can only offer Rose dreams that would come crashing down to earth in a negative way if they were ever together for any meaningful length of time in the real world. Jack comes across as the working class version of the g~~~~~~ Ravenal character from the musical Show Boat, someone who sweeps the heroine of the story off her feet with romance and visions of happiness that come crashing down in a harsh reality after they've been married (If on the other hand, Jack had been a typical steerage immigrant with plans for himself in America, that would have been something I could have accepted). Likewise, Rose comes across as self-centered in the extreme, especially in her post-Titanic behavior where she is willing to out of spiteful revenge let her mother think she's dead, and who ultimately we find would prefer to spend eternity with a man she had a three day fling with than the husband she was married to for 60 years. It also doesn't help that Jack and Rose are given the worst, and I mean the worst dialogue I have ever heard in a movie that received a Best Picture award.
But there is one area where Titanic beats Pearl Harbor hands down and that is background authenticity (and I stress *background* because Rose and Jack are not authentic 1912 type characters). I look at the ambience of Cameron's film and it is 1912 whenever the fictional characters are not around. But in "Pearl Harbor" I never have the feeling that it's 1941 even when I see the real characters. Franklin Roosevelt never called attention to his handicap and would not have done something as silly as get out of his wheelchair to his feet. And also, FDR *never* had a meeting without smoking a cigarette from a holder that was his trademark. But in this instance, the producers refused to show anyone smoking for reasons of 2001 PC standards rather than authentically depict the way people were in 1941. The inability to provide coherent context to the events of the outside world was also abysmal (worst of all the closing speech by Kate Beckinsale who says after the Dolittle Raid the Japanese pulled back. Hello???? What about the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway?) So in that respect, Pearl Harbor has the slightly better fictional story (which isn't saying much ultimately) while Cameron at least gives the impression of understanding the real story of his movie even if I feel he didn't do it ultimate justice.
Just my two cents on this matter. Like everyone, these opinions are all viewed through a subjective lens.