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Customer Review

425 of 544 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of Cohesion Hampers a Noble Effort, May 24, 2010
This review is from: The Pacific (DVD)
I enjoyed bits and pieces of this mini-series and from my readings of E.B. Sledge and historians of the Pacific battles I thought it accurately portrayed the combat experiences of the Marines in that theater. I found the brief strategic overviews narrarated by Hanks before each episode to be helpful, and I thought the combat scenes and the portrayal of the Marines' misery was well done, but on the whole I found the mini-series unsettling in a number of ways and I don't think I'd watch it again.

Most importantly, I feel the format of the series was disconnected. In attempting to weave together the stories of three Marines who weren't necessarily fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, we get glimpses of each Marine and are then moved on to the next one. The effect this had on me was such that I'd begin to care about one of them but would then be quickly shifted away to the next one. So I found I really didn't care about any of the characters until E.B. Sledge heads off to combat, which is several episodes in. Since I'd read his excellent book I'd already had an interest in seeing his story played out on screen, but when the story moved from Sledge and back to the States for a Basilone episode I found myself a little annoyed. (To be fair the creators were moving through episodes chronologically so by default something like this is bound to happen, but in my opinion it did more to hurt the flow than help it.)

Compounding this I felt a number of the episodes really slowed the tempo of the series down (e.g., the leave in Australia episode, the Leckie convalescing episode, and most of the Basilone falling in love episode). Here again we'd be thrust into one situation (intense combat) then rapidly shifted to an entirely different one (frolicking with Australian women), or vice versa. I understand that the creators wanted to portray the experiences of these specific men, but just as I started to really feel cohesion amongst the fighting men in the jungles or beaches, we'd be thrown back into these individualized stories, which, again, I had trouble caring about. Additionally, I think this format led to stilted dialogue since the characters themselves could never really find their groove within the series. I often found myself tuning out of conversations because I just wasn't invested.

If one were to insist on comparing this series with 'Band of Brothers' I would say that 'The Pacific' lacked the cohesion of that series - mainly for the reason that in 'Band of Brothers' we followed one unit from the beginning of their war to the end of their war, which was geographically confined to a relatively small Europe; whereas in 'The Pacific' we more followed individual men across locations which were often separated by thousands of miles of ocean. This geographic separation coupled with the constantly shifting protagonists/backdrops really threw me for a loop.

Finally, I am no wilting flower but parts of the series were about as grim as war movies get. This is by no means a knock on the series - as I believe these scenes were accurately portrayed as the men wrote them - but it added to my general sense of discomfort. I have only sympathy for the men who were asked to fight in those horrendous conditions, and to see this fighting portrayed on screen was powerful indeed. I'm glad the creators undertook this effort to honor these men, and I'm glad I watched the series once to gain an appreciation of the veterans who fought in the Pacific; but mostly because of the cohesion issues mentioned above I'm not sure I'd want to view the series again.
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Showing 1-10 of 58 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 24, 2010 11:48:33 AM PDT
N. Leaf says:
Excellent review, even though I found the series much more enjoyable than did you, your critique summarizes well the criticisms I've heard from the viewers who did not like it as much as I did.

Posted on May 25, 2010 10:55:59 AM PDT
J Mutoski says:
I kinda agree about the "disconnected" feel during the first half of the series, but I'm glad they sacrificed this to maintain the chronology of the series ... would not have enjoyed them jumping around on the Pacific Theater timeline of combat just to have good character development and a more connected feel.

Also I loved the episodes you felt slowed the series down, the Australia episode was one of my favorites, and I thought episode 4 (where Leckie struggles with his sanity at Cape Gloucester then ships off to convalesce at Mbanika) was a great early look at the war's impact on the mental and physical health of some of the Marines. The latter episode takes us into a darkness that the series doesn't emerge from until the last episode. I thought the transitions back n forth between combat, R&R and back again were an effective way of showing the extreme range of pain and pleasure the Marines in that theater experienced. And I didn't notice any stilted dialogue during the series, although occasionally some the southern accents seemed so exagerated that I had trouble following what was said.

I loved the series and can't wait to watch some of the incredible battle scenes on blu-ray.

Posted on Jul 2, 2010 10:15:37 AM PDT
M. Jensen says:
I loved this series, but it did seem disjointed in the middle -- it felt to me like this should have a been a 12 or 13 part series and that they "rushed it" into an arbitrary 10 episodes.

Posted on Jul 7, 2010 6:47:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 7, 2010 6:48:39 AM PDT
Nothing could have measured up to Band of Brothers. While watching it on HBO I never was able to get into the flow of the movie or the characters. I still may buy the Pacific but I'm in no hurry.

Posted on Jul 12, 2010 12:59:19 PM PDT
N. Leaf says:
To the last 3 posters (Lazzaretti, Jensen and Mutoski) ... I strongly recommend you re-watch the series now that you know the characters. It is a much more enriching experience without the disconnected feel.

In fact, I felt the same way about BOB after I watched it the first time ... except for Nixon, Winters, Lipton, Luz and Randalman, there were way too many "main" characters to follow, they would be central and then disappear and then reappear seemingly at random (Guarnere, Webster, Liebgott, Muck, Penkala, Shifty, Popeye ... where the hell was Toye in episodes 4 and 5?). But then when I watched BOB the 2nd time, and then the 3rd, it got better and better as I knew the characters.

Exact same experience for me with The Pacific. But The Pacific is better because the viewer enjoys a more intimate psychological experience with just three primary characters as the war takes its toll on their psyches ...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2010 3:53:54 PM PDT
Ok, Mr. Leaf. I'll watch it a second time to make sure.

Posted on Sep 3, 2010 11:53:29 PM PDT
Some very good points, Mr. Hopkins. Of all the criticisms I've seen here, only yours only seem to really hold water. I too agree there is a certain jumpiness to the narrative--but I think it was fated to be that way. Nobody writing here seems to be very cognizant of the fact that the filmmakers had X amount of dollars and X amount of time to tell their story--the story of the Marines in the Pacific from the perspective of individual grunt riflemen (not generals). To do this, they picked 3 actual men: Basilone, Leckie, and Sledge. Why? Taken together, THE EXPERIENCES OF THESE THREE MEN COVERED THE WHOLE PACIFIC WAR, from the 'canal to the Phillipines. These three men's actual lives covered the spread of much of the Marine fighting experience in the Pacific (and occasionally even overlapped slightly), giving the filmmakers the ability to expose the audience to the range of the Corps experience in a single series. The big dramatic problem with this (discussed by Mr. Hopkins) was that the three lives don't fit together neatly like pieces of a picture puzzle. This does result in problems of "cohesion". No doubt if the filmmakers had 20 more hours, or 50 more hours, to work it out, such problems could be eliminated, but they didn't.

Posted on Sep 21, 2010 1:14:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2010 1:31:30 PM PDT
mjh says:
Mybeloved uncle PVT Bill Leyden who was featured in 6 of the ten episodes, passed away just months before this series came out. His courage, humility and love of the marines made this extremely difficut to watch. I've read Sloans, Ambroses books but my uncle served in the same fox hole, waded thru the mud, smell of the hereos who didn't make it with Eugene Sledge, author of the greatest and most horrible vivid account of the battles. My uncle made it back after two purple hearts and a life time of pain, all he said he wanted was a piece of hard candy. I've never meet E Sledge or the rest of the company but God bless them. I also wish the movie wasn't so hard to follow , Band of brothers was filmed on 1600 acres which in comparison makes it look like a school play compared to the producers who took this project on. It's hard for me to if imagine that Peleliu stills is littered with our fallen me and women, and rusting tanks on the beaches, just to go island hopping as decoys.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2010 5:05:37 PM PDT
M. Jensen says:
Thanks to your family and others for their service in the Pacific in WWII -- and may God Bless your Uncle!

Posted on Oct 19, 2010 1:15:14 PM PDT
bamaroots says:
I think this review misses the point of this mini series almost entirely.
It was not made to challenge BOB or really to entertain viewers. While BOB followed one unit which allows for a more unified series, The Pacific
sought to show the stories of individual men (as you noted, possibly with out the understanding of the necessity of disjointedness).
Each theater of war brought it's own horrors. The men who fought in them deserve the admiration of all. Movies about either should be judged on their own merits. Earlier movies tended to romanticise the war in Europe, the Pacific much less so. Supposedly, we are not to compare apples and oranges. BOB and The Pacific are just that.
The Pacific is a magnificent mini series just as was BOB which I already own and The Pacific which I plan to own.
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