2010s The Pacific (2010)

Published on May 18th, 2010 | by Chris

6

The Pacific (2010)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On May 18, 2010
Last modified:October 5, 2012

Summary:

It tries, it wears the same colors, has a similar feel, but yet something's missing.

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.

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374463/
Amazon: The Pacific (HBO Miniseries) [Blu-ray]

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Description

The Pacific is an epic 10-part miniseries that delivers a realistic portrait of WWII's Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines - Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge...

DVD Information

Binding: Blu-ray
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: HBO HOME VIDEO
Manufacturer: HBO Studios
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Joseph Mazzello
  • James Badge Dale
  • Jon Seda

Features

  • Condition: New
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Color; Box set; Widescreen; DTS Surround Sound; Subtitled

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The Pacific Part One [HD]
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Band of Brothers / The Pacific (Special Edition Gift Set) [Blu-ray]
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The Pacific (2010) Chris

Summary: It tries, it wears the same colors, has a similar feel, but yet something's missing.

3.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



6 Responses to The Pacific (2010)

  1. Buzz says:

    I disagree with your take and with your conclusion. I do agree you didn’t get it.

    In Band of Brothers, they used a slick , well researched book to show an elite unit going through 13 months in Europe. It was well done and reflected all the work Ambrose did documenting Easy Company. It had lots of action and little of the impact the battle was having on individuals.

    In the Pacific, we are looking through the eyes of young enlisted Marines, and the chaos they encounter over a much longer and more brutal campaign, than was experienced in Europe. The series captured the soul of the Marines. The ability to laugh and make jokes during the worst of times; the combination of being boys and men at the same time; and the reality that they were all extraordinary in overcoming a much tougher and desperate enemy. Visually it did a good job of capturing the extreme landscapes and tremendous losses experienced in the island fights. I think they needed to tell the three stories, because the combination was more powerful than a single memoir would have been. No where in Europe did American fighting men sit side by side with rotting corpses for extended periods. Yet if you want a sense of what was experienced, then you needed those shots. The drag of Australia was a bit much, especially when we find out it was all fabricated about Lecke and the Greek girl. Otherwise, I think we are there with them. Lecke and Sledge represent the youth of America responding to the call. Basilone is the hardened NCO, the hero of WWII and the backbone of Marine Corps. He has a chance to stay safe but he doesn’t take it. He returns to battle and sacrifices everything.

    To me, Band of Brothers was slick, polished and well told. It also didn’t represent what was experienced by most soldiers on the European front. The Pacific takes us along with the Marines and covers the fight from start to finish. Not so slick, not so tight, but more true.

    My two cents.

  2. Davep says:

    Two entirely different battle theaters, enemies, and circumstances.. Band Of Brothers, has nothing to do with the Pacific. Because the chances of finding an entact marine unit that made it through the entire Pacific theather, and one which hit all the various islands, was impossible, they had to weave several stories together.

    Comparing Band of Brothers to the Pacific, and saying one is better than the other, is to say one war is better than another war.

  3. Chris says:

    I feel like I have to respond to both Dave and Buzz here… Yes, I realize that comparing the two theaters is not possible. That’s not what my intent was. The comparison to BoB is inevitable, though. Where BoB succeeded mostly was in making (most of) the episodes gel on their own, while still obviously part of the bigger picture. I didn’t get that from The Pacific. I didn’t think the three stories *were* combined successfully. The overall “Good, Bad, and Ugly” (Leckie, Basilone, and Sledge resp.) aspect of how each of their stories turned out was the high point, and I did get that, but only at the very, very end.

    Like I said, I just didn’t feel the same way about it. My opinion doesn’t have anything to do with what actually happened, (both of you are spot on,) but how it was told. The Basilone story, while not insignificant to be sure, absolutely (IMO) did not represent 99.9% of anyone’s story or experience, except in the most abstract of ways. That is to say, being cast the hero where he didn’t feel like it was warranted. Leckie’s story was just dropped on the floor, it seemed, as Sledge came into the picture, and I still think that Sledge’s story could have carried the entire series, even if he didn’t join the fight until later.

    Agreed, Buzz, that the visuals were important, but if you’ve seen the *real* footage (or been there, I don’t know) you’ll understand that what they tried to show only scratched the surface of what really happened and looked like. What was surreal and twisted should have been horrifying and sickening, and it wasn’t, IMO. A conscious decision? I dunno, but it seemed cliched to me at times.

    I still haven’t found the time to go back and go through the whole thing again, but I will, and I’ll report back.

  4. I had a similar reaction like Chris at first but then gave it some time and thinking and decided we should for a start not compare The Pacific and Band of Brothers (see my post http://allaboutwarmovies.com/2010/06/26/the-pacific-versus-band-of-brothers-should-we-compare/) and, yes, The Pacific is good.
    I think what it is particularly good at showing is post-traumatic stress. And it emphasizes the difference of the two war theaters. Especiallay when it comes to the end.
    Just picture this: the war in Europe is over. Everybody is celebrating and you have to go on fighting a stubborn enemy that will only give up after the very worst has happened. When it’s finally over for you the rest of the world doesn’t even now what you are talking about. The war is over? Hell, yes, it was over months ago.
    And no rewarding liberation of captives and concentration camps…
    I thought that this was shown very well in The Pacific. When it comes to “liking”, that’s another story. I did like Band of Brothers much better.

  5. kent says:

    Read the books…..the events you pawned off as ridiculous (i.e. tossing rocks into a skull) were described in sledges book with a sense of actuallity. “With the old breed” is as true A piece of war literature as there is, no fabrication, just how it is. The previous post about no cohesive unit was true too, no unit made it through guadalcanal to okinawa. Sledges group of 235 in pelileu left okinawa with less than 45 original members, that was only two battles. Where pacific destroys bob is its ability to truly capture civilized men from two civilizations adapt to and endure twentieth century barbarism, a barbarism clearly drawn out in sledges and to a lesser extent leckie’s books.

  6. Andre Raymond says:

    As you wrote, comparisons are inevitable. I would add “on first viewing” and suggest that people give the Pacific a chance for a secong viewing. It not only grows on you but becomes its own work. If they had simply done “Band of Brothers II” it would have cheapened the whole enterprise and made it not worth doing.

    Again I expect “Masters of the Air” will be a very different animal again. I predict episode 1 of the new series will surprise many people in that it will start years before the begining of the war (maybe in 1935) and lead up to America’s entry into the war, showing the evolution of the bomber plane and the development of Strategic Bombing as an idea. In that respect it may be closer to Hanks’ “From the Earth to the Moon”.

    Regardless, the producers chose to give “The Pacific” a very different feel and texture. Strong negative reactions are natural.

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