Another remarkable miniseries from HBO, "The Pacific" is produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The series is based upon "With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa" by Eugene Sledge and "Helmet for My Pillow" by Robert Leckie (it also takes from Sledge's "China Marine" and "Red Blood, Black Sand", the memoir of Chuck Tatum. As with "Band of Brothers", no expense seems to have been spared in attempts to recreate the time period and convey the events of the time with precision and accuracy. While not quite as remarkable or haunting as "Band", "The Pacific" is still a bold effort from the producers and the group of highly skilled directors who worked on the project.
The series follows Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) and Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazello), as well as John Basilone (Jon Seda), three soldiers who journey through brutal conditions (soldiers face sickness, horrible temperatures and other troubles above and beyond the horrors of battle they faced) and face horrific battles in Guadalcanal, Okinawa and elsewhere. The series does tend to focus on the main characters, but still provides a remarkable amount of scope and gives viewers the dire and troubling picture of the environments of these battles. Budgeted at over $100M, the series was the most expensive production ever to be filmed in Australia.
Performances are terrific, with the three leads (as well as a strong supporting performance from William Sadler), providing convincing portrayals of the arc of their characters as the horrors of war haunt them terribly. Mazzello, who has not been seen much since his initial success in "Jurassic Park", provides a particularly moving and subtle performance as Sledge. Overall, the series is a powerful and riveting look at the courage of the soldiers, who faced unimaginable difficulty and nightmarish conditions.
The set includes all 10 parts.
VIDEO: "The Pacific" is given a delightful 1.78:1 (1080p/AVC) transfer from HBO. Sharpness and detail are exceptional, as every element of the jungle is shown with remarkable clarity and impressive small object detail. Despite the understandably raw look of the series at times, the presentation remained smooth and was handled well by the transfer. A few minor instances of artifacting were spotted, but no edge enhancement or other concerns were spotted. The colors of the jungle settings appeared accurately presented, with no smearing or other faults. This was a terrific presentation that will certainly please fans of the series.
SOUND: The film is presented with a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio presentation. While a fair amount of the production is dialogue-driven, the battle sequences are given feature film-level treatment in terms of sound design. Surrounds are used aggressively and boldly in order to deliver the sounds of gunfire and other effects, doing a convincing job at placing viewers in the midst of the situation. Even during the less intense sequences, the rear speakers are often brought in to provide at least light ambience and occasional sound effects. Audio quality is terrific, with thunderous bass during the battle sequences and impressive, pinpoint clarity and detail.
EXTRAS: Unfortunately, no commentaries are offered - too bad, as I would have liked to have heard commentaries from the massive crew, including directors like Carl Franklin and Tim Van Patten. Otherwise, we still do get a nice set of bonus features, starting with an enhanced viewing mode and interactive field guide for every part of the program. Additionally, we also get a featurette profiling real soldiers featured in the series, as well as a "making of" and historic featurette.
Final Thoughts: A powerful and emotional miniseries with impressive production value and fine performances, "The Pacific" is a terrific miniseries recommended for fans of historic dramas. The Blu-Ray presentation boasts superb image/audio quality and a handful of fine supplements.