The Pacific on HBO (4)

I just finished watching the first two episodes of the new HBO ten-part miniseries event THE PACIFIC, based on the true stories of World War II Marines. The miniseries is based in part on the books “Helmet for My Pillow,” by Robert Leckie, and “With the Old Breed,” by Eugene B. Sledge, with additional material from “Red Blood, Black Sand,” by Chuck Tatum, and “China Marine,” by Eugene B. Sledge, as well as original interviews conducted by the filmmakers. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are executive producers.

In The Pacific, The main story follows three real life US marines as they journey through the Pacific portion of World War II: Robert Leckie (played by James Badge Dale who was on 24), Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello who played little Timmy in Jurassic Park), John Basilone (Jon Seda who played Det. Paul Falsone on the critically acclaimed TV show “Homicide: Life on the Street”).

In the first two episodes of The Pacific, Leckie and Basilone are introduced to the battlefield by confronting a relentless and unwavering Japanese army in the battle of Guadalcanal. Through the first two episodes, we are confronted with the brutal reality of the war marred with tension, fear, anger and tragedy. Back in the US, Sledge is fighting a different battle, one against his fragile health which is initially preventing him from joining the marines although he really wants to go.

The Pacific does a great job of telling a powerful story by not only giving us a first person view of the conflict from the perspective of these brave marines but also by adding more depth to the topic with real life interviews of marines and also a narrated summary (by none other than Tom Hanks) of the situation of the war at the beginning of each episode. Unlike the marines on screen, the viewer is not just flung in the middle of the war with little to no information; instead we are introduced to the subject matter almost academically which allows us to understand even more deeply the tragic nature of the situation.

In addition to the great story telling, The Pacific is blessed with fantastic performances from a whole slew of talented actors. James Badge Dale does a phenomenal job of portraying Leckie, a man who understands the reality he is in but also acts as a grounding station for his fellow marines with his wit and his poetry. Jon Seda does an equally impressive job of being a strong and dependable leader who is not afraid to get his hands burnt (litteraly!) for his comrades. In addition to these main characters, we are also lucky to see some pretty solid performances from every other character in the series which only adds to the authenticity of the gritty but also beautiful moments in the series.

Overall, The Pacific is a great mini-series that should be required viewing in every high school history class in the country. If you are a history buff, this movie is a dream come true. If you are not, then I still suggest you watch it as it is a compelling story to watch and has some great acting to round it all up.

The Pacific premieres tonight SUNDAY, MARCH 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m.ET/PT), with Part One on followed by other parts debuting on consecutive Sundays at the same time through May 16. You can watch a sneak peek of the first episode by clicking here.