The Pacific is an epic 10-part miniseries that delivers a realistic portrait of WWII's Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines - Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain firests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy, return home after V-J Day. The viewer will be immersed in combat through the intimate perspective of this diverse, relatable group of men pushed to the limit in battle both physically and psychologically against a relentless enemy unlike any encountered before. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have long since shown that they can spin a good World War II yarn. But while their previous collaborations (Saving Private Ryan, which they starred in and directed, respectively, and Band of Brothers, for which they were part of the producing team) were set in Europe, The Pacific is their first look at the conflict with the Japanese on the other side of the world--and the two executive producers, along with an outstanding cast, an able crew, and a slew of top-notch writers and directors, have done a superb job. In making a 10-episode HBO miniseries (on five discs, with a sixth containing bonus material) that combines real events and participants with other dramatic elements newly created for the project, the filmmakers took a personal, experiential approach, focusing in particular on three marines, all of them real individuals: Robert Leckie (played by James Badge Dale), an aspiring writer who sees his first action at Guadalcanal, falls in love while on leave in Australia, and later suffers serious war wounds; John Balisone (Jon Seda), who performs heroically at Guadalcanal, earns a Medal of Honor, and is then sent home to help sell war bonds, only to return to action at Iwo Jima; and Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello), who enlists later than the others, but not too late to witness and take part in some unimaginable horrors (books written by Sledge and Leckie about their experiences were used as source material for the miniseries). Of course, no one who's never been in combat can understand what it's really like, but through these three, and other men as well, we get some idea of the debilitating effects of war, both physical and psychological, and how those who managed to survive it might cope. As Leckie would write, "There are things men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul. It is one thing to reconcile these things with God, but another to square them with yourself." A number of episodes depict the characters at home, on leave, or otherwise away from the field of battle, but the greatest impact comes from the extraordinarily powerful fighting scenes in which the mar...
World War Z (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
A former UN investigator is thrust into the middle of trying to stop what could be the end of the world. Worldwide destruction sends him around the globe seeking clues about what they are fighting and what it will take to defeat it, as he tries to save the lives of billions of strangers, as well as his own beloved family. Few monsters lend themselves better to allegory than the zombie. In the years since George Romero first set the shambling mold with Night of the Living Dead, filmmakers have been using the undead as handy substitutes for concepts as varied as mall-walking consumers, punk rockers, soccer hooligans, and every political movement imaginable. (All this, plus brain chomping.) World War Z, the mega-scale adaptation of Max Brooks's richly detailed faux-historical novel, presents a zombie apocalypse on a ginormous level never seen before on film. Somehow, however, the sheer size of the scenario, coupled with a distinct lack of visceral explicitness, ends up blunting much of the metaphoric impact. While the globe-hopping action certainly doesn't want for spectacle, viewers may find themselves wishing there was something more to, you know, chew on. Director Marc Forster and his team of screenwriters (including J. Michael Straczynski and Lost's Damon Lindelof) have kept the basic gist of the source material, in which an unexplained outbreak results in a rapidly growing army of the undead. Unlike the novel's sprawling collection of unrelated narrators, however, the film streamlines the plot, following a retired United Nations investigator (Brad Pitt) who must leave his family behind in order to seek out the origins of the outbreak. While the introduction of a central character does help connect some of Brooks's cooler ideas, it also has the curious effect of narrowing the global scale of the crisis. By the time of the third act, in which Pitt finds himself under siege in a confined space, the once epic scope has decelerated into something virtually indistinguishable from any other zombie movie. Even if it's not a genre changer, though, World War Z still has plenty to distinguish itself, including a number of well-orchestrated set pieces--this is a movie that will never be shown on airplanes--and the performances, with Pitt's gradually eroding calm strengthened by a crew of supporting actors (including Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, and a fantastically loony David Morse) who manage to make a large impression in limited time. Most importantly, it's got those tremendous early scenes of zombie apocalypse, which display a level of frenetic chaos that's somehow both over-the-top and eerily plausible. When the fleet-footed ghouls start dogpiling en masse, even the most level-headed viewer may find themselves checking the locks and heading for the basement. --Andrew Wright
American Sniper (Blu-ray)
American Sniper (Blu-ray)U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield.]]>
Suits: Season 2 (DVD + UltraViolet)
Hotshot attorney Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht, Love and Other Drugs) and legal prodigy Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams, Luck) – who actually doesn’t have a law degree – return as the dynamic duo in season two of the hit series Suits. Harvey and Mike continue to hide their secret as they deal with the ominous return of founding partner Daniel Hardman (David Costabile, Breaking Bad), juggle demanding caseloads, and tackle dramatic developments in their personal lives. Co-starring Gina Torres (Gossip Girl), Meghan Markle (Horrible Bosses), and Rick Hoffman (Samantha Who?), watch all 16 episodes back to back and uninterrupted of the series critics call “among the most enjoyable shows on TV” (David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle).
April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
The Imitation Game (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, The Imitation Game a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives.
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