Today’s review is a TV series that takes shows you the War in the Pacific during World War II through the eyes and thoughts of three very different men against an unrelenting and barbaric enemy.
How excited was I when I first heard that the makers of the fantastic ‘Band of Brothers’ where going to do a series based in the Pacific Theatre of War? Extremely!
I immediately thought it would be pretty much the same as Band of Brothers in that the story would revolve around a certain unit that experienced some the most brutal battles the Pacific Theatre of War threw at them. It is in many ways similar to BOB and in some ways completely different, the story is based around three Marines in different regiments but all under 1st Marine Division and the battles faced by them all so the essence of BOB is there just in a different guise.
I watched them week by week when it was first broadcast on Sky Movies and again just as with BOB was always looking forward to the next episode. The battles featured on this series where not only some of the bloodiest of the Pacific Campaign but World War II period - the story gives a more panoramic view of the war in the Pacific.
The cast of the series are all outstanding in their roles and where chosen mainly due to their resemblances to the real Marines they where portraying. The three main characters are Eugene Sledge played by Joseph Mazzello, Robert Leckie played by James Badge Dale and John Basilone played by Jon Seda with William Sadler, Jon Bernthal et al.
This became the most expensive TV series ever after it’s original $100million budget rose to around $200million! The entire series was filmed in and around Australia and is based on the memoirs of Rob Leckie - Helmet for my Pillow, Eugene Sledge’s - With the Old Breed: At Peleieu and Okinawa and Chuck Tatum’s - Red Blood, Black Sand. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are again involved in the series, both being Executive Producers and Hanks also being the narrator at the beginning of episodes.
The level of realism on this series is phenomenal - it was any better you would be able to smell the rotting corpses, the torrential rain would soak you and the baking hot sun would burn you. For those of you with a squemish disposition there are quite a few scenes of graphic violence as you would expect, rotting bodies, limbs being blown off the usual stuff.
“…Ready to sail across God’s vast ocean where we will meet our enemy and kill them all…”
The Pacific lacks a certain something for me - yes it’s violent and heart-wrenching but it lacked real character development and as far the action side of things there where a few dare I say boring episodes where not alot seems to happen. BUT and it’s a big but, this is compared to BOB constantly, I’m guity of that, which is a comparison it was always going to lose. Taken on it’s own merits this series is great - depicting a part of WWII that for the most part gets almost forgotten about and shows the most gruesome battles in all their brutality.
Part One; The 1st Marine Division, including Robert Leckie, land on Guadalcanal and fight in the Battle of the Tenaru. In the US Eugene Sledge eventually persuades his parents to allow him to join the war.
Part Two; The 7th Marines land on Guadalcanal to bolster the defenses around Henderson Field. John Basilone and his men hold the line in the face of a vicious attack from the Japanese, where his actions earn him the Medal of Honor.
Part Three; The 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal is relieved and arrives in Melbourne, Australiafor much needed R&R. Leckie falls in love with an Australian girl called Stella, who invites him to stay at her parents’ home. Basilone receives the Medal of Honor and is sent home to promote/sell war bonds to the American people.
Part Four; Leckie and the 1st Marine Division are put into action at Cape Gloucester whilst Eugene Sledge enlists in the Marines Corps and trains for combat.
Part Five; Sledge and Leckie land with the 1st Marine Division at Peleliu where Sledge is reunited with an old friend. Leckie soon integrates himself back into life on the front-line
Part Six; The Marines fight to capture Peleliu’s vital airfield from the Japanese. Leckie is wounded by a blast during the battle and is evacuated and sent to recuperate on a hospital ship as the fierce fighting continues.
Part Seven; Sledge and the 5th Marines move into Peleliu’s Bloody Nose Ridge to face the Japanese.
Part Eight; Basilone, after leaving the War Bond drive is transferred to the 5th Marine Division where he trains new Marines for combat. There he meets and marries Lena Riggi. He then lands at Iwo Jima but gets killed by shrapnel from a Japanese mortar shell.
Part Nine; The 1st Marine Division land at Okinawa. Sledge, now a seasoned veteran, becomes more cynical and no longer shows any compassion for the Japanese during the course of the horrific battle.
Part Ten; After the Japanese surrender Sledge and Leckie return home to the US. Sledge is still haunted by the horrors of war. Leckie starts a relationship with Vera. Lena Basilone pays John Basilone’s parents a visit.
In closing, this is great series and one that you need to see - it’s a Marmite type of thing - you’ll either like or loathe it - I like it!!
PROS: Awesome battle scenes, great cast, shows war at its most brutal.
CONS: Weak character development, few too many quiet periods for me.
MY RATING: 4/5