Published on May 18th, 2010 | by Chris5
The Pacific (2010)
Hrm. I was really, really hoping this would be a suitable companion piece to 2001′s Band of Brothers. (Yes I know I still have to write a review for that one!) I was suitably disappointed, I’m afraid.
Part of the problem is that Band of Brothers set the bar way too stinking high. By itself, The Pacific really isn’t all that bad. It’s flawed (getting to that) but its not terrible. But in my opinion is but a pale shadow of its older cousin, to which it will ultimately and inevitably be compared.
It tries, it wears the same colors, has a similar feel, but yet something’s missing.
The Pacific just doesn’t have any “coherence” for lack of a better word. I think instead of trying to tell three different stories by combining them into one, they should have just picked one and ran with it full bore. I’d have chosen Sledge’s tale, as it likely would have had the most impact.
Basilone’s story? I’m not even sure what the purpose of dragging this along was for to be quite honest. It felt like an attempt to emulate Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers to be honest. In the end I didn’t get anything out of that except one guy who really didn’t feel like a hero wanting to do his duty and wound up dying. By itself that wouldn’t be so bad, but the final scenes almost made it seem like he was buying into his own hype. “The indestructible Johnny Basilone!” Or something.
Leckie? While compelling at first, they just kind of dropped him on the floor, which was a shame. It would have been good to follow him through until the end, to see how he coped with the rest of his situation.
But Sledge’s story could have been made into 10 episodes by itself, and probably would have been a better representation of what most guys would have gone through. The young naive kid turned into a near-soulless battle-hardened Marine after all he’s seen and done, yet still managing to find that last shred of humanity and return from the brink…. But the tangling up of everything just didn’t pull it off.
Where Band of Brothers succeeded and The Pacific failed was in this cohesion. Brothers was about “the unit,” and how the men in Easy company became that “Band of Brothers.” Each episode brought them closer together, even if they (and we) didn’t realize it. In the end, we felt what they must have been feeling. Here? I’m not feeling the pain for Basilone, no sadness for Leckie, maybe a little sympathy for Sledge, but not enough.
Another part of what gave Band of Brothers its realism was the interviews with the *actual people* that were portrayed. You could see and hear the emotion in those brief interview segments, and then project that onto the characters. I didn’t get that here. Forget that it was impossible. Second hand accounts just aren’t the same. Sure they brought in a few of the second string character’s real-life counterparts, but I don’t think it had quite the same impact.
And then lets talk about the production. Cliched? Sure, I suppose some of that is unavoidable. But nearing the end of the island campaigns the battlefields just took on a quality switching back and forth from surreal to near comical. Some moments were downright twisted (tossing rocks into a rain-filled skull), while others (see Basilone’s end) looked and felt like something out of a Sgt. York comic book. Other bits felt like “ooh, I heard that happened once, lets put that in” moments. They’re too many to try to list here.
That’s not to say the series didn’t have its moments. Sledge cradling the injured civilian who lay dying, being talked out of pulling the fillings from the corpse, Basilone’s apparent conflict between humility and hero, Leckie’s trying to make sense of any of it….
… unfortunately that’s what we’re left to do. Try and make sense out of it. Was that the point? I don’t know. As a means to an end (that being the surrender of the Empire) it *did* make sense. All of the inhumanity and death and insanity, was it worth it? Unfortunately, it probably was. And it wasn’t. If that makes any sense. See, maybe that was the point.
The final episode, however, was a matter of too little too late. That was a pretty powerful hour. Once again, the Basilone story didn’t amount to much, but lets compare Leckie’s and Sledge’s return. On the one hand, Leckie manages to return and seems to slip right back into a “normal” life without too much trouble. A bit of adjustment, but he seems to embrace his new lease on life with a newfound gusto.
Sledge on the other hand…. Returns to a world he doesn’t know anymore, and doesn’t know what to do. Just the mere act of walking through the woods with a weapon on a hunting trip is enough to send him into flashback hell. How many guys returned like Leckie and how many like Sledge?
I’m just sad that it took nine years (has it been that long?) to get a Pacific companion to Band of Brothers, and it turns out to fall well short of the mark. Over those nine years a significant percentage of the guys this should have honored were lost to peaceful old age. So all we can do is say thanks in retrospect. Which that final episode managed to do in its final moments.
I have to succumb and only drop a 7/10 for The Pacific. Most of that is for the tale of Eugene Sledge, and a bit for the tale of Robert Leckie. I could have gone lower but I’m giving a few points for effort also.
I’m torn on whether or not I’ll pick this up when the discs hit the shelves… I might just as a matter of course, to see if I missed anything important the first time around.
The Pacific [Blu-ray]
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have long since shown that they can spin a good World War II yarn. But while their previous collaborations (Saving Private Ryan, which they starred in and directed, respectively, and Band of Brothers, for which they were part of the producing team) were set in Europe, The Pacific is their first look at the conflict with the Japanese on the other side of the world–and the two executive producers, along with an outstanding cast, an able crew, and a slew of top-notch writers and directors, have done a superb job…
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audience Rating: Unrated
Brand: HBO HOME VIDEO
Manufacturer: HBO Home Video
Original Release Date:
- Joseph Mazzello
- James Badge Dale
- Jon Seda
- Condition: New
- Format: Blu-ray
- Color; Box set; Widescreen; DTS Surround Sound; Subtitled
The Pacific [Blu-ray]
The Pacific Part One
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Summary: It tries, it wears the same colors, has a similar feel, but yet something's missing.