Friday, March 19, 2010

The Pacific - A Look Back at Part I

HBO's 'The Pacific' miniseries started last Sunday evening. This 10 part effort tells the story of WWII in the Pacific, the struggle against the Japanese. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced the effort.

The first one hour installment (which was actually 50 minutes in length) aired last Sunday, and has been reshown every evening since.

This series was a followon to HBO's 'Band of Brothers'. The buildup has been extensive, and few outside 'the industry' knew what to expect. Some critics said it was groundbreaking, some said it was a redo of Band of Brothers. In any case, I wasn't going to miss it.

The first episode was a bit slow, expected due to the intro to what was going on, and the start of the war. The footage of the battle at Alligator Creek was gripping, and to someone who has never been in combat, it looked frightening. However, to spend the last 10 minutes of the hour watching highlights from upcoming episodes was a bit of a disappointment.

Due to the lack of mountains of WWII hardware laying around, CGI use is extensive. While it is good, it is by no means groundbreaking. You can pretty easily determine what is real and what is generated by a computer in the background. The ships, in particular, don't quite measure up to what was expected.

Being a military history buff, I have a knowledge background to understand what is going on. If I were a novice just watching and trying to absorb it, I would be confused - or at the very least miss the point of many of the scenes.

This indeed does seem to be another Band of Brothers, this time based in the Pacific theater - No more, no less. I will enjoy it no matter what, because it is a subject matter that has had far too little serious treatment on screen. However, I was hoping for a bit more ...

Part II Update - Well, Part II was a bit more action packed, but still... Another 50 minute episode, followed by 5 minutes of credits and 4 minutes of highlights from next week. What was shown was good, but not enough. How can you tell the story of Guadalcanal in about 60 minutes? If you didn't know the history of the campaign, you'd have no idea what was represented by those few minutes on screen.

Part III looks to be the obligatory 'what happens when the soldiers go home' episode.

These folks have bittten off way too large a story to play out in only 500 minutes (10 50 minute episodes). No matter how slick it looks on the screen, there is just no way to convey the subject matter in such a short time. They could have done a 10 part mini-series just on Guadalcanal, and it wouldn't have been comprehensive.

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