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FIRST REVIEWS OF HBO’S ‘THE PACIFIC’

By 03.02.10

Bill Murray and Harold Ramis “cross the streams” in the classic WWII comedy Japbusters.

We are now only twelve days away from the debut of “The Pacific,” the Steven Spielberg- and Tom Hanks-produced HBO miniseries about love and flamethrowers that has been marketed as “Band of Brothers, but with Marines in the Pacific Theater of WWII.” It’s the most excited I’ve been about an HBO miniseries about Marines at war since… well, “Generation Kill.” I didn’t expect that comparison to be so recent.

Anyway, I recognize that some people don’t like reading reviews because it can shape their opinions, so if that’s the case, stop reading now. Everyone else, join me as I play air guitar to some highlighted sections of badassery.

The key difference between “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” seems to be in the narrative. “BoB,” based on Stephen Ambrose’s book, represented the Allies’ more-or-less direct march to Germany with one contiguous plot. “The Pacific,” based on three different memoirs, mirrors the Marines’ island-hopping campaign. It also — in proper deference to Marine Corps ass-kicking — delivers more violence. According to James Hibberd:

For better or worse, “The Pacific” is far more graphic than “BOB.” Dismembered limbs flying, Marines cutting gold teeth from dead (and not quite dead) Japanese soldiers, a scene involving an open skull cavity that I won’t even describe.

Here’s a graphic representation of how I feel about that:

One episode — Part Nine — deserves special praise. Directed by “Sopranos” veteran Tim Van Patten, this penultimate hour, set on the island of Okinawa, is the most harrowing and revolting depiction of war I’ve ever seen. As a self-contained hour of drama, it’s a masterpiece and alone worth the price of admission.

That seems fitting, as the depiction of Okinawa in E.B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed is probably the most harrowing account of combat I’ve ever read — and I’ve read more war memoirs than the average history major who became a military officer.

From THR’s Barry Garron:

[“The Pacific”] is a gem of a production and would be a highlight of any TV season. “Pacific,” in its totality, conveys a sense of the combat experience that is as complete and realistic as any work of film could be. From the harrowing nighttime battles with a deadly but invisible enemy to the sheer misery of the punishing jungle climate to the macho posturing of the young American fighters, “Pacific” omits nothing…

Praiseworthy performances are so abundant that it might be unfair to single out any one actor… Special effects are outstanding and convincing. Watch for “Pacific” to dominate every Emmy category for which it is eligible. Better still, just watch it.

Done and done. Twelve days, people. Get ready for the return of the JUST THE BADASS PARTS tag.


TAGSBONERSHBOsteven spielbergTHE PACIFIC

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