The Pacific Blu-ray review

Take cover as this hung-ho soundtrack brings the theatre of war to your living room

The Pacific is a companion piece to the earlier Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced Band of Brothers. As its name indicates, this ten-part miniseries shifts its gaze from Europe to the war in the Pacific, and this time the narrative(s) follows three marines and their various experiences rather than a single company of soldiers. 

Fascinating and unflinching in its depiction of war and its effects on the soldiers involved, compared to its acclaimed predecessor The Pacific suffers somewhat from haphazard pacing that probably does a fine job of reflecting the nature of the combat, but which doesn’t necessarily make for a compelling narrative experience. But even with its handful of flaws, The Pacific remains a majestic and engrossing slice of TV drama.

Picture: This $230million miniseries looks nothing less than sensational on Blu-ray, with an AVC 1.78:1 1080p encode that blows many of the mega-budget Hollywood blockbusters I’ve seen in hi-def out of the water.

The picture is insanely detailed; with every pore and wrinkle in the troops’ faces and every scratch and chip in their helmets clear for all to see. When the action pauses and the smoke clears, you get to appreciate how impressive the colour reproduction is, with bright blue skies and lush green vegetation seducing your eyes. But even when the visuals are pushed to their limit – such as the night fight on Guadalcanal in Part 2 Chapter 5 – they still hold together extremely well. Blacks are deep enough to lose yourself in, yet the perfect contrast ensures that detail isn’t obliterated and you never lose track of what’s happening on screen.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The Pacific’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is even better than its image quality. While it does very well with quieter moments, the mix really explodes into life during the battle scenes – such as the Peleliu beach landing in Part 5 Chapters 4-5 and subsequent airfield assault in Part 6 Chapters 3-4. There’s a real precision to the placement and quality of the audio during even the most chaotic gunfight, and there’s no flabby bass here, just tight, impactful low frequency effects accompanying every onscreen explosion. Use of the surrounds is simply spectacular, with tracer fire flying all around the soundstage, but always under tight control, while superb panning effects mean that you can follow the path of the Japanese planes as they fly overhead.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: The bonus features in this set follow the same pattern as those produced for the Band of Brothers release. The first five discs (each containing two episodes) all offer up short Historical Background intros that provide a little context for the following episode, a picture-in-picture Enhanced Viewing Mode featuring interviews with veterans and historians, plus archival footage and maps, and an interactive Field Guide. The latter presents key events from each episode on a timeline and allows you to access additional interviews and archival materials related to them.

The sixth disc is entirely devoted to supplementary features. Here you’ll find six Profiles of The Pacific (short interviews with veterans and families providing more information on the lives of the men who inspired the series), the 23min Making of The Pacific featurette and the 10min Anatomy of the Pacific War featurette (exploring at the cultural differences between the US and Japanese soldiers).
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: While not quite as good as Band of Brothers, The Pacific still makes for a breathtaking hi-def AV experience.

HBO Home Entertainment, All-region BD, £50 approx, On sale November 1