Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Pacific (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6.5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7.5 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: TV-MA

Starring:
Joseph Mazzello as PFC Eugene Sledge
James Badge Dale as PFC Robert Leckie
Jon Seda as Sgt. John Basilone
Ben Chisholm as Marine
Chris Milligan as 2010-2010
Ashton Holmes as PFC Sidney Phillips
Josh Helman as PFC Lew 'Chuckler' Juergens
Martin McCann as Cpl. R.V. Burgin
Keith Nobbs as PFC Wilbur 'Runner' Conley
Rami Malek as PFC Merriell 'Snafu' Shelton
Toby Leonard Moore as Sgt. Stone
Jacob Pitts as PFC Bill 'Hoosier' Smith

Special Features:
Profiles of The Pacific
Making of
Anatomy of The Pacific War

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
DTS-HD MA 5.1 Sound
Spanish, French, and Polish Languages
English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Dutch, Swedish, Czech, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Greek, Finnish Subtitles
Running Time: 530 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"From executive producers Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman, 'The Pacific' tracks the real-life journeys of three U.S. Marines - Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello), and John Basilone (Jon Seda) - across the vast canvas of the Pacific theater during World War II. The miniseries follows these men and their Marines from their first battle with the Japanese on Guadalcanal, through the rain forests of Cape Gloucester and the strongholds of Peleliu, across the bloody sands of Iwo Jima, through the horror of Okinawa, and finally to their triumphant but uneasy return home after V-J Day."

"The Pacific" is rated TV-MA.

Mini-Review:
I watched both "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific," and I have to say I liked "Band of Brothers" better. There were a number of reasons why.

First of all, I liked the fact that "Band of Brothers" started out every episode with interviews showing real veterans. That put a face on the characters shown in the film and gave it a much more realistic feel. You felt like you were watching real people on the screen in a documentary, not a Hollywood movie. You got a greater sense that they were honoring the men they were featuring.

Second, "The Pacific" felt a lot more fictionalized than "Band of Brothers" despite the fact that both series were based on true stories. Put another way, it felt more "HBO-ey." To illustrate this, nearly every time a woman appeared on the screen, she was either someone's mother or she eventually appeared naked in the episode. It got to the point that I started thinking it was fictional because surely no real WWII veterans would like their wives portrayed in such a way in a movie (I guess I was wrong!). Every episode was filled with profanity, sexual dialogue, and other unflattering portrayals of characters that really made it feel a lot different from "Band of Brothers."

Third, every episode of "Band of Brothers" felt like a short WWII movie. They managed to develop the characters while simultaneously featuring adrenaline pumping battle scenes. There were rarely lulls in the narrative. "The Pacific" has multiple episodes where there is either no action or long periods of the characters doing very little. Yes, they are important parts of the story, but they really drag the pacing down.

Fourth, "Band of Brothers" felt like the characters were on a journey with their ultimate destination being the invasion of Germany. "The Pacific" felt much more meandering. You see one battle after another on tiny islands you've never heard of, then towards the end they suddenly appear on Iwo Jima with little fanfare. Throughout that meandering the story goes back to the US, Australia, and other locations well out of the action.

On the positive side, the cast of "The Pacific" is excellent. Joseph Mazzello goes on quite an emotional journey as PFC Eugene Sledge. It took me a while to realize that this was the kid from "Jurassic Park." He's matured a lot and this is a really strong performance as we see him journey to the brink of the emotional abyss and nearly fall over. James Badge Dale as PFC Robert Leckie and Jon Seda as Sgt. John Basilone are also excellent. I do have to say that it took many episodes before I was able to differentiate one character from another. Since they all dress alike and they all have dirty faces and many of the scenes are amid chaos, I had a very hard time telling who was who. I was also disappointed that Anna Torv from "Fringe" was in it so little as Virginia Grey. She's in it for about 5 minutes, most of which is a sex scene, and then she's never seen again. It was pretty disappointing.

I do have to compliment "The Pacific" on the battle scenes. The conflicts at Guadalcanal are incredibly intense and give you a real sense of how determined the Japanese were. The scene where Basilone earns his Medal of Honor is also stunning. But some of the scenes with Sledgehammer in the actual invasion of Japan are shockingly brutal and start to give you a sense of why the U.S. felt it was necessary to drop the atomic bombs. All of the battle scenes were extraordinarily well crafted.

Is "The Pacific" worth checking out? If you like war movies or WWII history, then yes. But as I noted again and again, "Band of Brothers" felt like a better told story.

You'll find a few bonus features on the Blu-ray set. "Profiles of The Pacific" contains a number of documentaries about the men featured in the film. Considering I thought they were all fictional, it's quite interesting to find out what they were really like from friends and family, and in some cases from the men themselves if they are still alive. You'll also find a "Making Of" documentary with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. They discuss the differences between the war in the Pacific and Europe, the challenges of shooting the battle scenes, and other interesting things. "Anatomy of The Pacific War" talks about the Japanese soldiers themselves, their mindset when going into battle, and what life was like once Japan was conquered. Considering that the Japanese are largely faceless enemies in the series, this is an interesting bookend to the story. Amid the episodes you'll also find "Enhanced Viewing" which contains additional informative footage and a Field Guide detailing the progress of the war.

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