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13 Mar 10,, 03:54
Can't wait

Relive nightmarish World War II battles in 'The Pacific' | Dallas-Fort Worth Entertainment News and Events | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/ent/stories/DN-pacific_0314gd.State.Bulldog.2342c7d.html)

Relive nightmarish World War II battles in 'The Pacific'

03:04 PM CST on Friday, March 12, 2010

By TOM MAURSTAD / Media Critic

As the title of the new HBO miniseries bluntly reminds viewers, The Pacific is about the other side of World War II.

Over the course of 10 hours, viewers are immersed in the war across the Pacific, waged on the beaches and in the jungles of a bunch of tiny little dots on the map that most Americans had never heard of. Concerns about "greatest generation" overkill are quickly put to rest by the opening chapters of The Pacific.
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This may be the same generation of young American men and women fighting the same war as in HBO's previous WWII miniseries, Band of Brothers, but it's a very different enemy and a very different reality. While it's the same production team responsible for Band of Brothers executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and head writer Bruce C. McKenna The Pacific presents a very different viewing experience. Hanks and company seem to have learned a few lessons from their Band experience.

Here, rather than following an entire company, The Pacific focuses on three main characters John Basilone (Jon Seda), Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) and Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello). They come from different backgrounds but all join the Marines and head for the tropical warfare in places like Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Okinawa.

Their stories crisscross through the 10 one-hour episodes with plenty of secondary characters joining them along the way. Among them is R.V. Burgin, a Lancaster resident portrayed by Martin McCann, introduced in the fifth chapter as the Marines land on Peleliu. Leading K Company through the death-filled chaos, Burgin is one of the improbably young, impossibly poised heroes.

The rhythms of their individual tours, in and out of battle (Basilone is quickly crowned a war hero and sent back home to help sell war bonds), allow the producers to shift focus without leaving viewers feeling like they need a scorecard to keep track of who's doing what where.

The episodes proceed chronologically and center on key battles, with the first two covering the battle on Guadalcanal. Episodes 8 and 9 are devoted to capturing Okinawa. In the middle is some of the bloodiest and most unrelenting action, chronicling the fight to seize control of Peleliu and its airstrip.

It's in these stretches that the power of The Pacific to stun, awe and overwhelm is most fully felt. Think of that 40 minutes at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan during the storming of the beach. Long stretches of The Pacific mirror that intensity. Then it stops, only to flare without warning.

Add to that the oppressive heat, the endless rain, the mud, the stacks upon stacks of dead bodies, and, most of all, the jungle. The Marines faced death at any moment from the Japanese; they battled malaria, dysentery and the threat that any sort of cut or scrape could fester into a wound that would take weeks to heal. It adds up to a reality that no video game can approximate. In a quietly wrenching summation of the gulf between that generation's experience and others' ability to grasp it, there's a moment midway through the miniseries when some Marines are sharing family-vacation stories. One tells of a trip to the Grand Canyon and how his dad had told the family that pictures didn't do it justice. "My dad was right," he says. "Pictures don't show it. You have to be there, looking down into it."

The actors give solid and affecting performances. Breakout status goes to Rami Malek as Snafu, the charming, syrup-drawling buddy of Eugene Sledge (who gives him his Marine nickname "Sledgehammer"). Repeating the strategy used in Band of Brothers, the actors are mostly unknowns, so you just settle into the characters rather than playing "name that actor."

The Pacific takes depictions of war to a new level of blunt, visceral, relentless violence. In the thick of these battles, it's hard to believe that anyone survived, or survived with their sanity intact. It's no wonder when one combatant says he's given up on trying to dodge death. "If it happens, it happens."

The Pacific catapults viewers into a nightmare reality where that kind of belief isn't suicidal nihilism, it's hard-earned common sense. The miracle is that they and, thanks to them, we came out the other side.

The Pacific premieres at 8 Sunday, HBO. 1 hr.

13 Mar 10,, 04:22
Been waiting on this since i saw the previews a year ago. Since HBO India wont show it until the US run completes, will have to obtain it by other means.