If you’re one of the two people who read my review of Inglourious Basterds then you will know that I am a complete sucker for all things World War Two. I was raised on such movies as The Dirty Dozen, Battle of Midway, Force 10 from Navarone and even the greatness of Hogan’s Heroes. So after the brilliance of Band of Brothers it was with great joy and eager anticipation that I looked forward to HBO’s newest World War Two series, The Pacific, also produced by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg. So with all this firepower one would think it would be an instant hit.
It should be obvious from the title, but this series follows the war against Japan in the Pacific Theatre, specifically the exploits of the 1st Marine division. Starting in the nearly disastrous battle of Guadalcanal, moving on to the rain and jungle nightmare of Cape Gloucester and continuing into the horrors of Palau (this is as far as the series has gotten but will go through Okinawa and Iwa Jima) the series is incredibly accurate and historically fascinating, and specifically follows the lives of three Marines: Robert Leckie, John Basilone, and Eugene Sledge.
It also doesn’t nearly live up to the greatness of Band of Brothers. The dialogue isn’t nearly as crisp and the interaction between the Marines is a little convoluted. The viewer is hit with several characters right of the bat, and it is incredibly difficult to get the names and character correct, especially when some of them look so similar. The first two or three episodes are really confusing. Additionally it is difficult to follow what is really happening in the battle of Guadalcanal since no strategic map of the island is ever shown.
As you begin to recognize who is who and as the war continues the series is more enjoyable. Specifically with the introduction of the character of Eugene Sledge, who doesn’t really join the fight until the fifth episode or so, but I think his character adds more to the show. Robert Leckie is also a pretty good character that really struggles to handle the horrors of what he sees. So far John Basilone has been almost forgettable. After winning a medal of honor at Guadalcanal, he has all but disappeared. Apparently he makes a comeback however. The real problem is that instead of seeing the characters personalities etc, you really just see their morbid reactions to the war and not who they really are.
To be sure the series well documents the horrors of war and what the unbelievable hardships that the Marine’s went through but the series is not consistent in its overall feel. Some episodes are more inspiring, some down right depressing and some just a little confusing. There is little continuity in the series and you never know what to expect week to week.
Over all the series is worth watching, especially for any history or war buff. Additionally I think it is good for people to see, just to realize the sacrifices that our soldiers made, sacrifices that would haunt them the rest of their lives. That being said, this band of Marines just doesn’t live up to its counterpart Band of Brothers.
I give it 3.5 Babbles.
PS. My one real historically nerdy complaint is that the series doesn’t show the naval and air battles. Unlike the war in Europe, which was won on the ground, the war in the Pacific was won at sea. Whoever controlled the sea, controlled the land and air and the series doesn’t even mention the dramatic sacrifices of the numerous airmen and sailors who died in battles such as Midway and the Corral Sea. I feel it is a bit of an injustice to the viewer not to get the whole picture of the war or remember their sacrifices as well.