The Pacific - review

The Pacific - BR review DTS-MA 5.1

Saving Private Ryan (SPR) was one of the definite movies of the 90s and one of the best war movies of all time, and in 2001 the Band of Brothers followed the success of Saving Private Ryan with a wonderful mini-series about the brave men of East Company as their fought their way through Europe. Tom Hanks did not rest on his laurels, and in 2007, made The Pacific. By then, there were quite a few more war movies, not only in English, but also in other languages. Terms like "gritty", "raw realism" and "faded colors" were often used to describe these shows. So how can this one do when thrown in amongst the rest?

First let me tell you what impressed me first. The action was breath-taking and exhilarating, and you felt like you were in with the First Marines as they did battle in unpronounceable islands in the Pacific. The depiction of the dangers, the agony and perils mixed in with the fear felt genuine, and intense. Knowing that everyone will benchmark this show against his other two creations meant a pressure to excel. The Pacific succeeds in the depiction of battle and the sound effects are massive, impressive and devastating. 

What it falls on is that it tries too hard. This mini-series tries to offer drama, romance, sort of like We Were Once Soldiers, where the show alternates between battles and the home front. Here you can a couple of episodes of raw battle to begin with, then two episodes which could have come out of a soap opera, with plenty of skin, sex scenes and love making thrown in. You get more "Face time",closeups, and dramatic moments which seemed to have been forced in to space out the action and add humanity where it is not really needed or helpful to the plot. Somehow, I feel it detracts from the movie and these attempts at humanising the soldiers did not do well and seem contrived and artificial. The show is most entertaining when it sticks to the what it is about - war. Those battle scenes are some of the best filmed and acted.

No one will fault the action, and thank goodness the director stayed away from the faded colours popularized by SPR. It also eschewed the jerky hand cam style used to great annoyance in the Bourne series and many others subsequently. Instead the show is resplendent in color, detail and showcases the best of modern film cinematography, with details like the leather belts on the soldiers, the grime looking almost 3D and the dried blood all realistically and carefully portrayed. 

The show differs from SPR in following three individual soldiers from the First Marines, as they battle in the South Pacific, and how their lives, their attitudes and morals are altered in the course of this arena of war. 

Plot: 3/5
Chick Factor: well there was a lot of sex and skin, which in my opinion was unnecessary (you could edit out 2 hours from the show with no loss) 3/5
Action: 5/5 the surround effects, bass and soundstage were all reference and finally beats SPR and BOB

Should you own it / rent / forget it - well I have two sets, and the poignant emotions it brings out is reason enough, the demo quality action scenes will keep you coming back to re-watch those battle scenes for many more times.

PS: Eugene Sledge was played by the annoying little twerp from Jurassic Park 1.
Just a little bit of trivia....

This show is no BOB which is still the best IMO of the war shows, followed by SPR, but it is still well worth a watch.


I did not mind most of the little artistic licenses taken, but they did poorly in showing the heroics of John Basilone the Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who fought so heroically and single-handed in Iwo Jima. I quote Wiki:

Iwo Jima

John Basilone's headstone in Arlington National Cemetery
After his request to return to the fleet was approved, he was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division during the invasion of Iwo Jima. On February 19, 1945, he was serving as a machine gun section leader in action against Japanese forces on Red Beach II. During the battle, the Japanese concentrated their fire at the incoming Americans from heavily fortified blockhouses staged throughout the island. With his unit pinned down, Basilone made his way around the side of the Japanese positions until he was directly on top of the blockhouse. He then attacked with grenades and demolitions, single-handedly destroying the entire strongpoint and its defending garrison. He then fought his way toward Airfield Number 1 and aided an American tank that was trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillery barrages. He guided the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite heavy weapons fire from the Japanese. As he moved along the edge of the airfield, he was killed by Japanese mortar shrapnel. His actions helped Marines penetrate the Japanese defense and get off the landing beach during the critical early stages of the invasion. For his valor during the battle of Iwo Jima, he was posthumously approved for the Marine Corps' second-highest decoration for bravery, the Navy Cross.[10]


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