Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Transformative, traumatic ‘Pacific’

(Published May 26, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Grim and distressing, the World War II TV miniseries “The Pacific” recalls the efforts of US Marines against Japanese forces in the region. Co-executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, among others, the 10-part series revolves around three soldiers changed irrevocably by their wartime experiences.

The most expensive HBO miniseries to date, “The Pacific” recreates actual events during the devastating war, impressively conjuring up epic-scale land and sea conflicts. But defining the drama are the metamorphoses of marines Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), John Basilone (Jon Seda) and Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello).

The three experience the loss of fallen comrades separately, and process their predicaments differently. Many sides to the war are seen by Leckie, who deals with exhaustion following a depressing time at Guadalcanal and a failed romance with an Australian girl later. But even more interesting is Sledge’s transformation from a frail and gentle lad to a hardened, disillusioned combatant.

By the ninth episode, Sledge is weary and stern, the distraught young man consistently made tangible and layered by former child actor Mazzello. While Sledge loses his innocence, he’s not entirely consumed by the war, as some key scenes in the penultimate chapter suggest.

The massive fight scenes aren’t always stunning or involving, however. A turgid and mechanical jungle clash between American forces and their rarely shown enemies disappoints in one episode.

Periodically gritty and gruesome, “The Pacific” nevertheless transfixes with its inherent pathos. Even with drawbacks, the series manages to emphasize the real, traumatic effects of war, and impart history lessons on a specific and more human level.

The final episode of “The Pacific” airs May 29, 9 p.m., on HBO. The encore telecast is on May 30, 8 p.m.

No comments: