It’s a pity that Band of Brothers was made before The Pacific. Brothers set the benchmark through which all following World War 2 dramas would be measured, be they films or TV series. And the benchmark was set so high, no one has come close to meeting the challenge since.
To further hamstring The Pacific is the fact that it was produced by the same people and has been promoted almost as the spiritual successor to Band of Brothers.
It even has the same ten episodes, two of which are essentially redundant.
The Pacific however is not Band of Brothers, it never really sets out to be, nor could it ever hope to be. There will never be another Brothers for one very simple reason. Brothers was the story of a single group of men who traversed the war together. It’s a story so unique that it’s unlikely we’ll find another story as compelling as theirs.
So what is The Pacific? It’s an over view of the American war in the Pacific as seen through the eyes of two groups of soldiers, and to some extent their families and loved ones. This is The Pacific’s biggest weakness. The story jumps around sometimes, leaving you a little confused and forcing you to play catch up.
It also has some redundant episodes that do nothing for the story-line. In episode 3 – one that I’ll forever dub Make Peace, Not War – the marines get taken off the line and sent to Melbourne to rest up. In melbourne they of course discover the bars and the women. There’s plenty of sex and plenty of drinking, but no war. What’s more, the fact that these guys spent and entire episode in Australia is only ever mentioned in conversation – and very briefly – in the final episode.
Now you may be starting to wonder if The Pacific is a magnanimous waste of time. Well it’s not. When it kicks into gear, it screams along. It’s stunning portrayal of the brutality of the Pacific Campaign and the varied and horrific fighting conditions would put Brothers to shame – if only there was a more consistent flow, and more of a focus on the action.
It’s ability to show just how much of a different war it was will leave some viewers shocked or offended. The Pacific was a brutal war of attrition, where death was a constant, and men were changed through what they saw and endured.
There is a reference as to just how hellish the war was in the final episode when a returning marine gets a taxi ride home – the taxi driver refuses to take his money, saying that he dropped into Normandy on D-Day (a subtle reference to Brothers) and tells the Marine that what the Airborne endured in Europe was nothing like what the marines suffered through in the Pacific.
But there’s more to The Pacific than just the ten part mini-series. HBO has taken what they learnt from the BluRay release of Brothers and added in a couple of special features on each episode. One is a series of short items that looks at the history of each episode’s battle, and the other is a picture in picture commentary that runs through the whole episode where historians and survivors tell how it really was.
It’s these added features that bring a healthy dose of reality to the series, much like the old guys recounting there experiences at the beginning of each episode of Brothers. But it does more than that, it gives the feeling that no matter how brutal and unforgiving the war looks on-screen, in reality the one how slots could never do real justice to just how brutal and unforgiving the war actually was.
So as a combined whole, The Pacific on BluRay is a stunning look at the seldom told stories of the Pacific Campaign.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Release date: November 3rd, 2010
Stars: James Badge Dale, Joe Mazzello, Jon Seda, Ashton Holmes, Scott Gibson, William Sadler, Rami Malek, Keith Nobbs, Josh Helman, Leon Ford, Dylan Young, Josh Bitton, Jacob Pitts, Gary Sweet, Brendan Fletcher, Martin McCann, Tom Budge, Henry Nixon
Length (Minutes): 530
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Director: Carl Franklin, Jeremy Podeswa
Studio: Warner Bros