The Pacific

The Pacific (2010)
HBO Home Video
Cast: James Badge Dale, Joseph Mazzello, Jon Seda
Extras: Enhanced Viewing, Field Guide, Interviews, Photos, Featurettes, Profiles and more

When "Band of Brothers" flickered across TV screens a few years ago, audiences were mesmerized by the HBO series for a number of reasons. Not only did the long, episodic running time of the show all for in-depth characters and stories that centered around the emotional and human aspects of World War II, but it also made it possible to tell the stories over a relatively long amount of time in a way no theatrical movie would be able to do. At the same time as American soldiers fought to liberate Europe on one side of the globe, they were also in the trenches in the Pacific, trying to break the Japanese stranglehold. Told in a rather similar fashion as "Band of Brothers," this HBO mini-series comes from the same network, and the same production team, making sure it is every bit as riveting and engrossing.

The series revolves around a handful of Marines as central characters and their tribulations as they try to survive the war in the Pacific. Whether it's Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) and his eternal struggle to simply make it through this Hell alive, Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello), who is out there simply to be the best he can, or John Basilone (Jon Seda) whose fearlessness makes him a national hero overnight, a status he does not enjoy very much, the film covers a wide variety of personalities and the anguish they go through as they experience the horrors of war and try to find their place in it.

Moreover, the film, naturally, elaborates on the eternal question every soldier in the field must have asked himself, "Why? How could the world have gone to shit like this?" Surrounded by a supporting cast of equally engaging characters that have every bit of the depth of the leads, "The Pacific" is a violent and gritty look at how disillusion turned these young men from boys into seasoned war veterans. But the series does not stop there. Once these men return home, they find themselves haunted by what they witnessed and the horrors they had been participating in themselves. Emotions and torment that is enough to twist even the most hardened men, making it hard for them to re-integrate into a normal life – if they were lucky enough to make it through the war, in one piece, that is.

I greatly enjoyed "The Pacific" but I have to say that I liked "Band of Brothers" better. to me it has to do with the attachment I have to the characters. Somehow, seeing Easy Company together through the entire "Band of Brothers" series created a direct link to those characters, their fears, their emotions and their terror. There was more of a cohesive group that viewers followed through every episode.

In "The Pacific" on the other hand, the stories of Leckie, Sledge and Basilone are almost entirely separate with every episode featuring one of them specifically, while leaving the others by the side. While it works great to draw that one character with more depth, viewers are constantly attaching and detaching themselves from the other characters throughout the series. As a result I found the impact was not quite as powerful as in "Band of Brothers." That, however, is really just a comparative observation, so don't be mislead by this. "The Pacific" packs ample punch and is probably the best TV production of this year.

HBO Home Entertainment presents "The Pacific" in a 1080p high definition transfer on this Blu-Ray release. The image is incredibly detailed and brings to live the gritty episodes with textures and image sharpness that we could only have dreamed of. Powerful colors and incredible black levels make this a remarkable presentation that stands head and shoulders with the best Hollywood blockbusters.

A DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track accompanies "The Pacific" bringing the mayhem directly to your living room. This audio track is not for the squeamish as it fully engages the surround channels and places you right in the middle of the battlefield. With gunfire drumming away in all directions, mortars howling from behind, debris dropping on your from the front and human shouts all around you, this audio track is one of the most aggressive and dynamic of recent memory.

"The Pacific" also contains a number of great bonus materials, most of them found on the sixth disc of the Blu-Ray set. Among the true highlights is the Enhanced Viewing picture-in-picture track available for the entire 10 hours of the show's running length. It turns the series into a live history lesson. It offers constant historical references and explanations, along with detailed information about the Marines and many other things.

But the release does not stop there. It is filled with maps, field guides, interviews, featurettes, historic archival footage of some of the events depicted in the series, countless photographs and so much more that it is hard to list them all.

"The Pacific" is another magnificent HBO mini-series that wows and engages. Masterfully produced, directed and told, this series is television at its best and thanks to modern day technology, it looks every bit as impressive as Hollywood movies – in fact, it looks even better than a lot of the current theatrical crop. If you liked "Band of Brothers" there can be no question that you will want to see "The Pacific" to see what happened on the other side of the globe at the same time.