The Pacific appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. I thought the Blu-ray provided consistently satisfying visuals.
Sharpness was generally very positive. A smidgen of softness appeared at times, but those instances were minor. Instead, the program demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy the vast majority of the time. I witnessed no instances of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared absent. Source flaws also failed to interfere.
Colors stayed fairly subdued for the most part. The period setting didn’t favor a dynamic palette, but the hues looked reasonably accurate and full. Blacks were acceptably dark and deep, while shadows showed generally positive delineation; some low-light shots seemed slightly murky, but not to an extreme. Overall, I found this to be a strong presentation.
War movies usually opt for dynamic audio, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Pacific provided the expected bombast. The soundfield used the various speakers well. Scenes with battles proved the most involving, as they engulfed the viewer with the sounds of the setting. That side of things worked best, but other sequences also seemed quite good; even quieter placed the viewer in the action and consistently satisfied. Surround usage was pleasing throughout the film, as the back speakers bolstered the various settings well.
Audio quality was also good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems. Music was quite dynamic and lively, as the score showed excellent range and delineation. Effects were also bright and bold, with nice low-end to boot. Across the board, this was an excellent track that deserved a solid “A”.
When we shift to extras, the most substantial components travel across all 10 episodes of The Pacific. Enhanced Viewing offers “picture-in-picture” components as the shows run. These mix text facts about events and characters, archival footage, maps, and interviews with a mix of experts and participants. In these, we hear from historian/author Richard B. Frank, historian/author Donald L. Miller, historical consultant Hugh Ambrose, widows Jeanne Sledge and Vera Leckie, veterans PFC Sidney Phillips, Captain Hugh Corrigan, Sgt. Richard Greer, Sgt. Clinton Watters, Sgt. RV Burgin, PFC William Leyden, PFC Eugene B. Sledge, and PFC Chuck Tatum, Burgin’s wife Florence, and PFC Phillips’ sister Katharine J. Phillips Singer.
Throughout “Enhanced Viewing”, the material tends to fall into two categories. We get facts about the war and 1940s society from the historians and anecdotes/personal thoughts from the others. This isn’t a perfect distinction, as some overlap occurs, but it covers the elements pretty well.
And “Enhanced Viewing” covers the mini-series quite well itself. I really like the mix of topics, especially since the shows themselves don’t give us a lot of historical perspective; the various experts are able to fill in some blanks from the programs.
As for the veterans and their relatives, they add real depth to the piece. It’s great to put real-life faces to the characters, and they throw in many fine stories about their experiences. Overall, “Enhanced Viewing” gives us a layer of substance that makes The Pacific even more rewarding.
I want to note that “Enhanced Viewing” comes with a user-friendly interface that reduces frustration. Rather than have to wait for each component to appear, when one ends, you can easily skip ahead to the next. That’s great, as it allows you to navigate them more efficiently. Granted, they pop up often enough that we don’t get stuck with much dead air, but I still really appreciate the ability to jump from one clip to another.
All 10 episodes also can be examined via a Field Guide. This offers exactly the same types of information found during “Enhanced Viewing”, so expect the same participants and topics.
However, that doesn’t make the “Field Guide” a redundant waste of time. While a few of the same tidbits emerge – usually in the form of character biographies – quite a lot of new clips and details pop up across the elements. This means that we learn even more about the subjects and get a greater appreciation for the stories.
All 10 episodes can be viewed with Historical Background. Each clip lasts between one minute, 13 seconds and two minutes, 52 seconds for a total of 22 minutes, 59 seconds. These come with narration from executive producer Tom Hanks as well as interview remarks from Sidney Phillips, Richard Greer, William Leyden, RV Burgin, Hugh Corrigan, Clinton Watters, Vera Leckie, daughter Joan Leckie Salvas, and Chuck Tatum. Each one offers a prologue for the particular episodes and helps set up those narratives. They’re all short but compelling.
A sixth disc consists solely of extras. Profiles of The Pacific offers a six-part documentary that concentrates on the series’ characters. It runs a total of 48 minutes, 26 seconds, and includes notes from Greer, Watters, Frank, Tatum, Ambrose, Phillips, Jeanne Sledge, Burgin, Eugene Sledge, Vera Leckie, Corrigan, Singer, Leyden, Florence Burgin, Basilone family friend Anne Navatto, Basilone schoolmate Victoria Melitsky, Basilone lifelong friend Steve Del Rocco, Sr., Basilone Parade Committee treasurer Peter Vitelli, brother Donald Basilone, sons John and Henry Sledge, daughter Joan Leckie Salvas, veteran Robert Leckie, and son David Leckie. “Profiles” examines the lives of John Basilone, Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie, Sidney Phillips, RV Burgin, and Chuck Tatum. It gives us another chance to hear from the real-life people behind the movie’s characters, and it throws in many more valuable and interesting observations. It’s a good collection of information.
For actual behind the scenes material, we go to the 22-minute, 36-second Making The Pacific. It features remarks from Sidney Phillips, RV Burgin, Richard Greer, executive producers Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Steven Spielberg, director (Part 4)/co-executive producer Graham Yost, writer/co-executive producer Bruce McKenna, senior military advisor Capt. Dale Dye, director (Parts 1, 7, 9)/supervising producer Tim Van Patten, director (Parts 2, 8) David Nutter, director (Part 6)/co-executive producer Tony To, visual FX supervisor John Sullivan, supervising art director Dominic Hyman, set decorator Rolland Pike, director (Part 5) Carl Franklin, production designer Anthony Pratt, You Yangs art director Jeff Thorp, and actors James Badge Dale, Rami Malek, Joe Mazzello, Keith Nobbs, Jon Seda, Joshua Bitton, and Scott Gibson. “Making” looks at the series’ development, story, characters and research, cast, training and performances, sets and locations, and shooting battle sequences.
Though pretty standard fare for this sort of “Making of” program, this one manages reasonable depth. The first part offers a bland recap of the film, but once we get into production details, it improves. Nothing here dazzles with insight or depth, but it’s fairly informative.
Finally, we get a featurette called Anatomy of the Pacific War. It goes for nine minutes, 59 seconds and provides comments from Dye, Spielberg, Miller, Eugene Sledge, Frank, Leyden, Hanks, Ambrose, Phillips, Greer, Burgin, historian/author Dr. Akira Iriye, and historian/author Dr. John Dower. “Anatomy” offers general notes about the war, with an emphasis on the Japanese culture and other facets of the overall conflict. Despite its brevity, it delivers a pretty good little recap that covers the basics well.
With its focus on the “soldier’s eye view” of the war, The Pacific doesn’t deliver a broad general history of the conflict against the Japanese. And that’s fine with me, as it does provide a consistently engaging, moving take on the experience of a handful of particular Marines. The Blu-ray offers very good picture, excellent sound and a nice collection of supplements. The Pacific is a classy mini-series, and this Blu-ray brings it home in a satisfying manner.