Band of Brothers/The Pacific: Special Edition Gift Set Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Video Codec: VC-1(Band of Brothers); AVC/MPEG-4 (The Pacific)
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
- Region: A (B? C?)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 11
- Studio: HBO Home Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: November 8, 2011
- List Price: $199.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
World War II was the last great conflict in which the United States could claim unqualified victory. With hundreds of WW II veterans dying daily, there will soon be no one left to tell their war stories first hand. This situation alone makes Band of Brothers and The Pacific among the most important war mini-series ever to hit the home theater scene. Both mini-series depict selected events from the European and Pacific theaters, seen through the eyes of those who were there. The cinematic style will please Saving Private Ryan fans with no shortage of battle scenes filmed up close and personal. The graphic nature of the filmed violence more than justifies General Sherman’s “War is hell,” as cited in Band of Brothers’ third episode.
The actors who populate the Airborne Easy Company and the 1st Marine Division may not be well known to many viewers; they do create some memorable characters along the way. Band of Brothers begins each episode with brief introductions by real veterans and then dives right into the action from D-Day to VE-Day. The Pacific opts for direct entry into the action, starting with post-Pearl Harbor events, and covers the brutal struggle to regain islands captured by the Japanese army.
Production values are uniformly high as would expected from a Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg enterprise. Although nearly a decade separates these two shows, the sights and sounds on each are excellent.
The Blu-ray treatment of these epic miniseries is about as good as it gets. The Pacific gets a nod for better detail with less grain, mosquito and motion artifact, expected of a much newer film. The chaos of war has never been portrayed more graphically. The cinematography has an immediacy that puts viewers in the middle of the action, on occasion, perhaps a bit too close for comfort. The natural backdrops add significantly to the proceedings, and while the grim and grimy battlefields of Europe cannot compare with the lush tropics of the Pacific islands, the sense of place is convincingly conveyed in both settings.
Surround effects are used judiciously during battle sequences, giving just enough of the proceedings to keep you startled and on edge. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 version is the way to go here as the 2-channel LPCM soundtrack simply does not bring the battle to the viewer. Warning!! These pictures tend to favor high volume. Fortunately, there are enough breaks from the hostilities to keep viewers from experiencing sonic burnout.
As befits a deluxe box set, this one really gets it right. All of the special features of the individual BD sets are here:
- We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company
- The Making of a Band of Brothers
- Ron Livingston’s Video Diaries
- Premiere in Normandy
- Making the Pacific
- Profiles of the Pacific
- Anatomy of the Pacific
Interactive field guides are supplied with both series, providing good entry points for war newbies. If this were not enough, a new documentary bonus disc by Donald L. Miller, He Has Seen War, addresses the post-war lives of those who served in these monumental conflicts. WW II buffs will revel in all of these extras, as did I, even after reliving the numerous battles over the preceding 25-plus hours of the 10 double-episode BDs.
The Definitive Word
Band of Brothers/The Pacific sets a new standard for the visual coverage of war. This combo set takes off from its lineal predecessor, Saving Private Ryan, and then goes it one better. Please note that these films are not intended for faint-hearted or squeamish viewers. The savagery and brutality of battle are portrayed with a realism and intensity that can become a bit mind-numbing over time. There are deaths aplenty, not to mention copious blood and gore. I would also sound a cautionary note for the next-to-last episode of Band of Brothers when Easy Company makes the grisly discovery of a concentration camp.
You should watch these episodes with sufficient breathing space to avoid “battle fatigue.” The cinematography is generally outstanding with The Pacific being the better of the two. By way of other comparisons, the story line of The Pacific is the more coherent, focusing on a few principal characters rather than on the many in Band of Brothers. The Pacific also has better pace, perhaps due to its having fewer directors, balance between war and relief scenes, and the obvious lessons learned from Band of Brothers. The deluxe packaging notwithstanding, I am happy to report that no extras from the previously issued individual sets were omitted and a terrific new WW II documentary was added. If you are looking for the holiday gift for that special BD fan who grooves on gunfire, guts and glory, this is it.
Additional Screen Captures