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If you want to see the Pacific version of HBO's critically acclaimed
"Band of Brothers", change the channel
"The Pacific" differs from "Band of Brothers" whereas the "The Pacific" focuses on the war itself and "Band of Brothers" focused on the characters. Both miniseries are championed by Hollywood heavy-hitters Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg who were contributing writers and producers of both miniseries.
Perhaps the greatest distinction between the two mini-series was intentional. It is clear that the soldiers in the Pacific theater fought a different kind of war than those fighting in Europe. "The Pacific" is a gritty if not gory depiction of a war against not just the Japanese, but also the elements. The cast is made-up of some brilliant actors we are sure to see again in future projects. What makes "The Pacific" so good is the intense realism which brings the viewer into the battle from the safety of your couch. If there is hell on earth, you will find it here.
The army they are fighting is alien; both mysterious and ferocious. They are looked at with both awe and disdain and the Americans want to kill them all. However, there is a palpable sense fear among the men that this enemy will never surrender and will fight beyond what they feel is humanly if not morally possible. When one character hears about the Kamikaze's flying their planes into ships, he asks aloud "how can any man do that?" "The Pacific" is fast-paced and each episode leaves the viewer wanting more.
What lacks in the series is the intimacy of knowing the characters. They are kept at a distance almost as if the character doesn't want to let you in. This may be the intent of the writers; just as the soldiers took little interest in knowing each other, maybe we are not meant to know the characters.
I am a great fan of the original Band of Brothers and do realize that some of us do not get the feeling of getting close to the individuals as we did with BoB. The Pacific theater was different. The Japanese warfare was, and I suppose still is, different. I do not believe that it is fair to compare Pacific to BoB. We are trying to compare Apples and Oranges. I think that this miniseries is a great piece of historical story telling. Having read some complaints about the historical accuracy of the statement made in episode 3. What a wonderful thing that there are people out there that know the real history. Is it not a good thing that this miniseries actually gets us involved? That some, if not most of us, actually go and try to learn more about what had happened? Is it not a good thing that we hear names like Basilone ( a real hero), E.B.Sledge, and Robert Leckie? Normal people that have performed and endured in an utmost,and admirable way. If this miniseries has the power in getting our younger generation interested in this part of our history, it has done a wonderful thing. I would recommend for anybody watching this series to go and investigate the facts, read and educate oneself about the soldiers that fought for our freedom and for democracy. The only negative thing about this series is that the episodes are to short and the 7 days between episodes is to long. To all the Veterans past and present, thank you.
"The Pacific" is Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's epic 200 million
dollar miniseries from the creators of the brilliant 2001 series "Band
Of Brothers'. Much like with Band Of Brothers, The Pacific gives us an
unflinching look at the horrors of war, not just the physical but the
mental horrors these men must face. As an audience you are pulled
through this experience, watching in horror as limbs are torn from
bodies and men are burned and mutilated. In a way even more distressing
is watching the emotional scars and effects this has on our main
characters. This is not a perfect series and does suffer from some
major flaws but overall it's an extremely harrowing experience but one
that is needed in an age where war is often glorified, this series does
anything but that.
Narrative and overall story: The Pacific is based primarily on two memoirs of U.S. Marines, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. The miniseries follows both these marines Sledge (played by joe mazzello) and Leckie (James Badge Dale) there is also the addition of marine John Basilone (Jon Seda) but he is a lesser focus. Now unlike Band of Brothers we follow these characters separately as they are part of different divisions, the first few episodes follow Leckie and his experiences, the latter on Sledge. In a way this is both an interesting way of narration but also maybe the biggest flaw of the series.
This spilt narration gives us two very separate journeys which in a way bonds us closer to the characters. The downfall is that Leckie's story is just simply not as interesting as Sledges, from the moment Sledge is introduced to us i felt an instant sympathy and connection with him, here is this shy, awkward eighteen year old desperately longing to fight in the war but unable to do so thanks to a heart mummer, of course his determination gets the best of him and enlists. The character and his overall story is simply miles more compelling than Leckie's thats what makes the first three or four episodes somewhat lackluster. When the sole focus is on Sledge this series reaches its incredible potential and becomes something truly amazing, Sledge and his journey is really the heart and soul of this series.
Acting: With such a depressing and intense subject matter first class acting was expected and the pacific delivers. Every single cast member gives a great performance, its gripping and believable acting at its best. The stars are undoubtedly Joe Mazzello who plays Sledge and Rami Malek who plays Corporal Merriell Shelton or "Snafu", a highly intriguing character who forms a close friendship with Sledge. Both give Emmy worthy performances and in Malek's case i would say Oscar worthy. These are two very complex and incredible performances. Mazzello plays our lead which such an intense and subtle power: his character goes from a naive and passive teenager to hardened killing machine full of rage it is an incredible character arc and Mazzello plays it to perfection. As the series comes to a close we really see what Mazzello can do: Sledge is beginning to lose himself, he has become ruthless and in one single pivotal scene he regains his humanity, his compassion and his redemption. Its a truly powerful scene and one in which Mazzello does not utter one word, his face says everything and its heartbreaking. In fact that is Mazzello main strong point, his ability to convey much more than what is going on just by his eyes and face, there is so much complex emotion behind his eyes it makes for a fascinating watch. Rami Malek gives the most impressive performance of the series playing "Snafu". His character is incredibly creepy and odd, obviously numbed by the horrors of the war, but there is something there that makes the audience warm to him. Malek completely becomes the role, every mannerism, twitch, blink of the eye is perfectly done. lines such as "I like to watch the new guys sweat." are said with such odd intensity its actually mind blowing. I will call this performance perfect which is a very rare thing indeed, if only Malek could win an Oscar because this performance truly deserves the highest acclaim. Malek and Mozzello also have fantastic chemistry, playing off each other perfectly helping to only further this touching friendship.
Direction: remember the opening sequence of "Saving Private Ryan"? well imagine that times 20. I would say this is the most realistic portrayal of what an actual battle must have felt like. The battle scenes are simply epic and wonderfully directed, even if you hate everything else anyone can see the direction is incredible within this series.
Overall: the major flaw of this series if the first 4 episodes they simply don't have the emotional impact of the rest, in fact they border on dull. However as soon as Sledge and Snafu become our main focus this series becomes a true epic. This series will take you on a haunting experience, you will be horrified, you will be moved, you will laugh, you will cry. As long as you stick with it through the first few episodes you will not regret it.
I'm Australian and it's ANZAC day today where the whole country honours
all those who have served our country and others in all theatres of
war. I judge The Pacific as a dramatic representation of the war in the
Pacific, not a 100% historically accurate documentary.
I'm so glad The Pacific is on, because it highlights part of the war that was so vital to my country. I might not be Australian today if our allied forces hadn't won the battles. Maybe because I grew up with a significant focus on the impacts of the war with the Japanese, I get a lot from the show and when I watch it I feel how awful it was for the marines and all who were there, and how Australia was the closest safe haven for those men and women. Just seeing a brief mention of the starvation, tropical ulcers, how important it was to stop the Japanese airstrip on Guadalcanal, the Japanese mentality, is enough for me to get a lot out of the show. I already know how long it went on for, and that the battles were many and varied.
Think the Burma railway, Changi, Kokoda, and I realise the enormity of what these people went through, they were skeletons in rags if they manged to survive and come out of there. The Japanese bombed Darwin, there were submarines in Sydney Harbour, and just last year, we finally discovered the wreck of a hospital ship that he Japanese torpedoed and sank, just off Brisbane. The college I attended was turned into a US army hospital base in WWII and has miles of underground tunnels. MacArthur's base in Brisbane is still named after him, it's now a shopping centre, MacArthur Central. The anniversary of the battle of the Coral Sea a few years ago in Townsville was huge.
The Pacific is a great show for me. I like it, I appreciate what they're representing in the short time they have to do it in a TV show. Just a quick look at someone who says goodbye to family in a snowy climate and then lands on a tropical island speaks volumes about what they faced to me. If it brings even a small amount of appreciation to others who are not as familiar with this part of WWII, The Pacific has done a great job. I give it a thumbs up.
For another interesting story set around this time, check out the movie Paradise Road.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The show is OK, nothing more. Definitely not as good as BoB. Main
problems I got with it:
* Marine subculture not portrayed. The characters behave just like every generic military unit. Nice chaps and all, but could as well be Army or Coast Guard.
* Characters lack depth. Contrary to BoB it's hard to keep track who's who and care for them. Not a good sign for a movie or show. I also don't understand the NCO-focus they chose. Ain't worked out in the series what the distinct perspective of Marine NCOs was.
* Clichés: Japanese soldier pretending surrender and then killing himself and captors with a hidden hand grenade, incompetent subalterns, hardy privates and NCOs saving the day, ... Generally the portrayal of combat is shallow and sanitized. Hardly a feel for the special military culture of the Japanese enemy. In BoB the Germans felt, well, "germanlike".
* Acting skills not up to the task: In Pt. 2 the guys just don't look and behave like men who were through jungle hell and ate their belts. More like chaps who got dirty on a weekend National Guard maneuver. Maybe they should have resorted to method acting.
Generally this feels like a glossed over half covered for modesty version of WW2 in the Pacific, maybe because they wanted to make it a show for the whole family and not just for the guys. WW2 for Mom and the little sisters, so to speak. It would have done the show more service, had they gone realistic, gritty and gore. Or focused the whole show on a single battle or campaign and elaborated deeply on that. As is it's WW2 in the Pacific on fast forward.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't compare the heroics of the European war with those of the
Pacific war, but I've always been more in awe of the Pacific War.
Unfortunately, this miniseries seems an afterthought, as if, after Band
of Brothers, a Pacific vet went up to Spielberg and said, "Hey, what
about us?" and Spielberg said, "Oh, OK."
The Pacific War was completely different in character from the European War, but this miniseries doesn't show us why. It's no accident that this miniseries is named for the ocean, yet here the Pacific is given only a bit part. What we see is the horrors of war we saw in Band of Brothers, moved to a different setting. The Pacific war was largely a naval war. Coral Sea, Midway, Leyte, Okinawa were titanic engagements, each as dramatic as any island battle, with huge fleets on vast expanses of ocean. In fact, the Pacific War was also a Marine war because it was first a naval war.
HBO blew a huge opportunity here. Depicting the great naval battles has always been problematic in movies, because they've been impossible to stage without resorting to stock footage and cheesy process shots. CGI has now advanced to the point -- we got samples in this series -- where the titanic ocean battles that distinguished the Pacific War can be convincingly produced.
I've read the books of Sledge and Leckie and can attest to their greatness. But there are also wonderful firsthand accounts of the naval side from which to draw. In fact, I think there were sailors who transfered from ship to ship, as they sank beneath them, who lived to tell about it. How about brothers or cousins, one on land, the other at sea, writing back and forth, as we witness their respective ordeals?
Okay, that's my slant. But even as it's presented, The Pacific is lacking a dimension. If you want to know what it is, then read James Michener's Tales From the South Pacific. I don't mean it should replace what The Pacific shows us, but including Michener's exposition or something like it would have kept The Pacific from being, for all its great production values and gruesome intensity, just another war-is-hell movie.
After watching the first episode of "The Pacific" I have to say I was
gripped. Now, it is important to realize one major thing about this
series as compared to "Band of Brothers". This is bases on the real
life memoirs of only three Marines who served in the Pacific Theather
of the war, while "Band of Brothers" was based upon Stephen Ambrose's
account of a whole company of soldiers.
This series definitely feels different in terms of the storytelling as it centers on a few select Marines as opposed to a company of them. So far, I definitely see the difference in the way this story is told from a perspective point of view. It feel somewhat more personal because of how closely it follows those Marines, which is as it should be given the source material.
As a historian, I am excited to see the events of the Pacific Campaign chronicled on screen by the team behind "Band of Brothers". They have done such a remarkable job on the first series, that it is almost a complete documentary as well as an outstanding mini-series. I can already see the seeds of the same thing happening with this mini-series as happened with "Band of Brothers".
As for the few down notes, which I will admit there were, they seem to be limited to quick story jumps (i.e. the night attack and morning after scene followed by the reinforcements marching past in the next scene). The introduction to the characters also felt a bit rushed, I think maybe focusing the entire episode on them like was done with the Camp Toccoa training in Band of Brothers. However, the episode moved quickly and was over before I knew it.
For now, those of us that watched "Band of Brothers" know one thing for certain, we were spoiled by that series, which is possibly the best mini-series of all time, "The Pacific" has the best possible team working on it and is a worthy successor to it's European Front sibling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw the first episode tonight and the first thing your mind does is
compare. We see similar introductions to surviving American Marines
(that were showcased by members of Easy Company in "Band of Brothers").
The landing on the beach invites comparisons with Saving Private Ryan.
SPR was a far more elaborate and bloody landing scene. In fact what was
anticlimactic for the whole of the first episode is the small amount of
ground battle on Guadalcanal than is yet to come. The hour whizzed by
so fast it was over before I knew it. The main characters are
introduced and the story has its foundations laid. From the (limited
amount) of what I know of the Pacific battles, they were very long and
took a huge toll on both sides as one side fought with determination to
dislodge the Japanese invaders and as they got closer to the homeland,
the Japanese fought with ferocious tenacity to hold off the American's
at all costs.
What I did appreciate is an early pointing at a Pacific side of the world map by a commanding officer as he explained what had happened on the day that Japan attacked not only Pearl Harbor but many other places as well. The impact was that they were attempting to secure a stranglehold on half the world; I had never realized how vast their appetite was until then. I look forward to the rest of the series where I am quite sure the horrors of the battles will reveal their ugly selves all too well. A good start.
Watched Part 2 last night. HOLY COW, what a nerve wracking bloody affair that was. The suffering of the Marines (food deprivation, malaria, constant enemy bombardment, being out numbered) was coupled with very intense close action as waves of Japanese soldiers ran headlong into blazing walls of gun fire. The hand to hand combat in the thick jungle was very dramatic. In short, a tremendous up-tick in the temperature and depth of the combat, as expected. Once again the show was adequately introduced, giving us historical background before the show begins. The show was about 50 minutes and it just zoomed by. Very impressive and gut wrenching.
Watch for how some of the soldiers act out of complete adrenalin, in what we would term irrational....not able to pause to consider what they were doing.
I couldn't tell you how many times I have watched Band of Brothers. I
think it is the best production ever made. However, I resisted watching
The Pacific. My father had five years active duty in the Marine Corps
when I was born, and remained on active duty until I was 30 years old.
I was ten when he left for Viet Nam, the first time, and in high school
the next. I had friends whose fathers were seriously wounded, or
killed, there. I have always felt like Marines are family, and any
depiction of them being killed has always been hard to see. However, I
finally decided to "man-up" and watch it, on Veteran's Day this year.
I think BoB was a dream come true for the producers. They had ironclad characters to follow all the way through, and many of the men were still alive and took part in it. The story of Easy company had been put into book form, brilliantly. They didn't have that with The Pacific. The closest they could come was to base it all around three separate men; Robert Leckie,Eugene Sledge and John Basilone. The three men's paths crossed, some,but they did not belong to the same units or know each other, although Leckie and Sledge both knew Basilone's reputation.
As brutal and difficult as the war in Europe was, the Pacific war against the Japanese was almost incomprehensible. Except for their time in Australia, following Guadalcanal, they were fighting the most brutal fights in history, while in the most punishing places on earth.It is a wonder that any of them were ever able to return to civilization and dull the memories of those horrors enough to lead a more or less normal life.
Because of the brutality of both the enemy and the conditions they had to live and fight under, there isn't much in the way of light-heartedness. The Pacific is not as enjoyable as BoB. Anyone seeing it for the first time should not expect to be entertained. It is a bit more difficult to get into. I found it helpful to watch the first episode twice before going on. A little patience in getting to know the primary characters payed off. I also think being able to watch it all over the course of a few days, like I did, was much better than watching it as it was first presented, one episode each week for ten weeks.
There were some excellent performances in The Pacific. Someone else singled out Ravi Malek's portrayal of Merriel "Snafu" Sheldon as award worthy and I agree 100%! I loved William Sadler as LtCol. Lewis "Chesty" Puller, and I was also very impressed with Tom Budge as PFC Ronnie Gibson.
The three primary characters are portrayed worthily. I didn't think Joe Mazzello as Sledge developed his character as well as the other two. However, I ended up with only nine episodes on my DVR. The one I am missing is episode five, which I suspect is centered on Sledge, so perhaps the character will seem better developed to me after I see it. Jon Seda gave a fine performance as John Basilone, which was definitely the roll of a lifetime! I think my favorite of the three was James Badge Dale, as Bob Leckie.
I wasn't as depressed by seeing a portrayal of so many Marines being killed and wounded as I expected. That was partly because not many of them really looked like Marines to me. I have always said that you can put an actor in the Marine Corps uniform but you usually can't make him look like a Marine. There were a few, though, who were totally believable including Jon Seda. Others have commented on the length of the men's hair as being distracting and/or inaccurate. By my first memories, in the mid-late 50s, Marines were wearing the crew-cuts and flat-tops that they have worn ever since. However, I have pictures of my dad in uniform, from a decade earlier, with longer hair, so I think the producers knew what they were doing there.
Although I agree with most posters here, that The Pacific is not as good as BoB, it is still well-done and definitely worth seeing. I think watching it with an open mind, and avoiding comparisons, it is a good way to approach it.
One last comment I have is that I wonder why one young Marine, who was killed on Iwo Jima at age 17, was singled out in the tributes at the end. I assume they meant that to symbolize the thousands of young men who were killed, and it was very effective, IMO. But I would be interested to know why they chose the one they did; if perhaps someone involved in the production was a relative of the young man. I won't say his name for those who might not have seen it yet, but I will always remember it.
HBO's "The Pacific" is an excellent show in it's own right. While many
fans of the previous HBO war series "Band of Brothers" may have high
hopes and anticipations that The Pacific will follow suit of its
wonderful predecessor, sadly they will be disappointed. The first few
episodes are story driven but by the midpoint of the show, all the
action begins to come through and some, if not all the action sequences
are stellar. In the end, the story itself is driven at a much slower
rate and is more dramatic and the visuals of the war in the Pacific are
both beautiful and chilling. This is where the show shines the most.
The biggest drawback is that The Pacific certainly lacks the depth of characters on-screen that Band of Brothers delivered but it's focus is kept mostly on a small group of soldiers. There may be less focus on the characters altogether thus it's not clear exactly who the main characters are at this point but the objective, the missions, make up for that. After Part I, I wasn't blown away by it the way I was with Band of Brothers. However, after seeing Part II, I started to fall in love with the show.
Arguably, some say that the real glory of the United States military in World War II was fought in Europe and I somewhat harken to that belief. HBO's The Pacific may even justify that notion for some because it obviously is no Band of Brothers but, it is a solid show in it's own right quite possibly depicting what may have been both the most beautiful side of World War II and the loneliest side of it. HBO's The Pacific really shows the WWII nut the dark side of the war.
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