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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 marines--exhausted, half-starving, riddled with malaria, and enduring the appalling conditions (from extreme heat to relentless, torrential downpours) of an impenetrable, unforgiving jungle--battle an implacable, fanatical foe who would much rather die than surrender or be taken prisoner. A sequence in Part Five, when we're with Sledge as he lands at Peleliu for his first real action, is especially gripping; battles at night and in the rain at Cape Gloucester in Part Four, on Iwo Jima in Part Eight, and on Okinawa in Part Nine are also wrenching, but really, all the fighting sequences manage to convey the sheer, visceral terror the men experienced. To the filmmakers' credit, a number of real WWII veterans are on hand to share their memories, both in a 49-minute featurette on disc 6 and during the short introductions to each episode narrated by Hanks. Other extras include a 22-minute "making of" piece and a brief but interesting description of the cultural differences that made the conflict between the Japanese and the Americans even more brutal than it might have been. Kudos also go to the packaging and design of the boxed set; the menus are easily navigable, offering a synopsis of each episode. --Sam Graham
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- Format: DVD
- Box set; Color; DVD; Widescreen; Subtitled; Closed-captioned; NTSC
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John Blackthorne, an English ship pilot, whose vessel wrecked upon the Japanese coast in the early 17th century is forced to deal with the two most powerful men in Japan in these days. He is thrown in the midst of a war between Toranaga and Ishido, who struggle for the title of Shogun which will give ultimate power to the one who possesses it.
What better way to escape from the onslaught of so-called reality television than to sail away with Richard Chamberlain to "the Japans" for a little samurai action and some discreet "pillowing"? From the golden age of the miniseries comes this television benchmark, the 10-hour, Golden Globe-winning saga based on James Clavell's bestselling epic. In his award-winning performance, Chamberlain stars as John Blackthorne, the 17th-century English navigator on a Dutch trading ship. A storm runs the ship aground off the coast of Japan, a "torn and cruelly divided country" locked in a power struggle between Toranaga (the venerable Toshiro Mifune) and Ishido, two warlords who would be Shogun. Blackthorne gets over his initial culture shock ("I piss on you and your country," he defiantly proclaims to his samurai captors, which to his humiliation turns out to be an unfortunate choice of words) to become a trusted ally of Toranaga and the lover of the beautiful interpreter Lady Mariko (YokoShimada). Their forbidden, ill-fated romance--and Blackthorne's total assimilation into Japanese culture--is set against political intrigue as Toranaga prepares for the inevitable showdown with Ishido, and Blackthorne's growing influence threatens the local Jesuits who had built up a lucrative trade monopoly. Shogun was a production blessed with good karma, and it remains an awesome achievement from a bygone era when the miniseries was king. --Donald Liebenson
|A League of Their Own
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Brand: Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna star in this major-league comedy from the team that brought you Big. Hanks stars as Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up ballplayer whose big league days are over. Hired to coach in the All-American Girls Baseball League of 1943, while the male pros are at war, Dugan finds himself drawn back into the game by the heart and heroics of his all-girl team. Jon Lovitz adds a scene-stealing cameo as the sarcastic scout who recruits Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), the baseball dolly with a Babe Ruth swing. Teammates Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O'Donnell round out the roster, taking the team to the World Series. Based on the true story of the pioneering women who blazed the trail, on the fields and off, for generations of athletes.
Penny Marshall's popular 1992 comedy sheds light on a little-known chapter of American sports history with its story of a struggling team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league was formed when the recruiting of soldiers during World War II resulted in a shortage of men's baseball teams. The AAGPBL continued after the war (until 1954), and Marshall's movie depicts the league in full swing, beginning when a savvy baseball scout (Jon Lovitz) finds a pair of promising new players in small-town Oregonian sisters (Geena Davis, Lori Petty). The sisters are signed to play for the Rockford Peaches near Chicago, whose new manager (Tom Hanks) is a former home-run king who wrecked his career with alcoholism. They're all a bunch of underdogs, and Marshall (with a witty script by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel) does a fine job of establishing a colorful team of supporting players including Madonna and (in her movie debut) Rosie O'Donnell. It's a conventional Hollywood sports story (Marshall's never been one to take dramatic risks), but the stellar cast is delightful, and the movie's filled with memorable moments, witty dialogue, and agreeable sentiment. And just remember: there's no crying in baseball! --Jeff Shannon
|Inglourious Basterds [Blu-ray]
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Brad Pitt takes no prisoners in Quentin Tarantino’s high-octane WWII revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds. As war rages in Europe, a Nazi-scalping squad of American soldiers, known to their enemy as “The Basterds,” is on a daring mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich. Bursting with “action, hair-trigger suspense and a machine-gun spray of killer dialogue” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), Inglourious Basterds is “another Tarantino masterpiece” (Jake Hamilton, CBS-TV)!
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Brand: Touchstone / Disney
From legendary director Steven Spielberg comes the epic adventure War Horse, a tale of incredible loyalty, hope, and tenacity. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, and set against the sweeping canvas of World War I, this deeply heartfelt story begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and his young trainer Albert. When they’re forced apart by war, we follow Joey’s extraordinary journey as he changes and inspires the lives of everyone he meets. Filled with spectacularly rich visuals — and complete with never-before-seen bonus features — War Horse is a “Genuine movie masterpiece,” (Rex Reed, The New York Observer) and one of the most powerful and moving stories of friendship ever told.
The sheer physical beauty of the horse and the magnificent landscape of rural Devon, England, makes the first section of War Horse a feast for the eyes, as stalwart young lad Albert (Jeremy Irvine, in his film debut) struggles to channel the high-strung energy of newly bought horse Joey into plowing a rocky field. A destructive rainstorm forces Albert's father (Peter Mullan, Boy A) to sell Joey to an army captain (Tom Hiddleston, Thor) who takes the horse into the battlefields of World War I. From there, turns of fortune lead Joey into the hands of a German private, a French girl and her grandfather, and then into the cratered no man's land between the warring armies. War Horse is jarringly uneven. Some moments are over-the-top while others are elegantly understated; the tone ranges from the broad comedy of a mid-1970s Disney live-action flick to the raw majesty of a John Ford western. The episodic storytelling doesn't help--the characters don't have time to fully establish themselves in the audience's hearts, despite some excellent performances. The greatest weakness is that director Steven Spielberg doesn't connect us to Joey himself; though it's impossible not to have moments of empathy with the trials of this beautiful animal, at other times the horse is no more than a narrative device, carrying us from one micro-story to another. Still, some episodes are unquestionably compelling (a sequence in which a British and a German soldier collaborate to rescue Joey is particularly good) and, though stylistically all over the place, War Horse is never less than visually stunning. --Bret Fetzer
|The Wind Rises (Blu-ray + DVD)
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Brand: Touchstone / Disney
From Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Best Animated Feature, SPIRITED AWAY, 2002) comes a spellbinding movie beyond compare. Experience "perhaps the greatest animated film the cinema has ever seen" (David Ehrlich, Film.com) on Blu-ray. Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted and unable to be a pilot, he becomes one of the world's most accomplished airplane designers, experiencing key historical events in an epic tale of love, perseverance and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world. Bring home the film that has dazzled fans and critics around the globe. Bursting off the screen with spectacular picture and sound and featuring fascinating bonus material, Miyazaki's final masterpiece, THE WIND RISES, is breathtaking on Blu-ray and DVD.
|The Bible: The Epic Miniseries
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From Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes The Bible — an epic 10-part miniseries retelling stories from the Scriptures for a whole new generation. Breathtaking in scope and scale, The Bible features powerful performances, exotic locales and dazzling visual effects that breathe spectacular life into the dramatic tales of faith and courage from Genesis through Revelation. This historic television event is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family.
Please note: Some scenes that were shown when The Bible aired may not be included in this release. These missing scenes are an artistic choice, not a defect.
Note: The Packaging of the title comes in such a way that a single case is designed to hold all the 4 discs for the title.
This 10-part miniseries meets the overwhelming challenge of bringing the story of the Bible to film in a way that embraces modern technology and makes the stories seem relevant and fresh to today's audiences. The Bible was truly a project of passion for executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. By focusing on hope and love as the string of continuity throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, Burnett, Roma, and the writers and filmmakers have created a powerful series about a historical text that's at once action film, adventure, and even love story. The many stories included in this presentation include those of Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, the birth of Abraham's son Isaac, Moses's parting of the Red Sea, David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, Mary's conception of Jesus and his birth, the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spread of Jesus's word through his disciples. Each of the 10 episodes is powerfully rendered--the subject matter is by nature moving, and the costuming, special effects, settings, and filming choices are fitting and realistic. The performances of the entire cast are stirring, but special recognition is deserved by Diogo Morgado for his performance as Jesus, Downey as Mother Mary, Darwin Shaw as Peter, Joe Wredden as Judas, and William Houston as Moses.
The best thing about this miniseries is that it functions so well on three very disparate levels: it serves as an affirmation of faith and a bringing to life of a beloved story for the devout, a reminder and re-igniter of faith for those raised in faith who may have strayed from religion, and an overview of the Bible's stories and a catalyst for faith for those who may never have been exposed to the Bible. One hesitates to characterize the series as "highlights of the Bible" because the moniker trivializes the subject (though Downey calls it just that), but indeed the film views like a "highlights of" in the best sense of the phrase: it offers an overview of most of the major, as well as some of the minor events related in the Bible and conveys a strong sense of the emotion, faith, devotion, and even fervor that has driven religious belief for thousands of years. The Bible: The Epic Miniseries is well crafted and powerfully delivered and it absolutely lives up to its professed desire to preserve the true spirit of the Bible. Special features include lots of interview footage with Burnett and Downey on a variety of subjects; featurettes on the Genesis and Creation segments of the series, casting, music, and special effects; and a "Mary, Did You Know" music video composed of visual excerpts from the film set to the 1996 recording by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna. (Ages 13 and older due to graphic violence) --Tami Horiuchi
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A towering cinematic achievement. An astonishing true story. And "a battle film in the grand tradition of Four Feathers and Gunga Din" (Time)! Filmed against the exotic locales of Africa and starring Stanley Baker (The Guns of Navarone), Jack Hawkins (Lawrence of Arabia) and Academy AwardÂ(r) winner* Michael Caine (in his first major motion picture role), Zulu is a thrilling account of one of history's fiercest battles! As a terrifying war chant echoes across the majestic African plains, 4000 Zulu tribesmen rise up from the tall grassthat hides them. Furiously beating their swords against their shields, the warriors descend upon a small garrison of English soldiers. "Usuto! Usuto! (Kill! Kill!)," they cry as they launch into a battle with the vastly outnumbered English militia who must manifest incredible skill and incomparable bravery just to survive. *1999: Supporting Actor, The Cider House Rules; 1986: Supporting Actor, Hannah and Her Sisters
|War, 10-Movie Collection: The Eagle and The Hawk/The Last Outpost/Bengal Brigad/Jet Pilot/Ulzana's Raid/To Hell and Back/In Enemy Country/Raid on Rommel/Battle Hymn/Wake Island
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The Eagle and the Hawk: This powerful anti-war drama stars Cary Grant and Fredric Marchas as rival pilots with opposing codes of honor during World War I. The Last Outpost: Blending action-adventure with romantic melodrama, this rousing saga follows a British prisoner (Cary Grant) who is rescued from a firing squad by his cellmate (Claude Rains). Wake Island: Based on a true story, this hard-hitting film follows a handful of U.S. Marines holding out against an overwhelming Japanese air, land and sea assault. Bengal Brigade: Set during British India in 1857, Captain Claybourne (Rock Hudson) is faced with restoring his reputation after being harshly disciplined for disobeying orders. To Hell and Back: Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of WWII, plays himself in this gripping, action-packed battle saga featuring amazingly realistic war footage. Battle Hymn: Based on actual events during the Korean War, a remorseful bomber pilot (Rock Hudson) must come to terms with his past after an unthinkable accident. Jet Pilot: Heroic Air Force Colonel Jim Shannon (John Wayne) takes to the skies to save a beautiful Russian lady pilot (Janet Leigh) accused of being a spy. In Enemy Country: Wartime secret agents are on a mission to destroy a deadly new type of torpedo, hidden in a Nazi stronghold in France. Raid on Rommel: A British intelligence officer (Richard Burton) leads a daring attack on the German shore defenses at Tobruk during World War II. Ulzana's Raid: A scout (Burt Lancaster) is assigned to aid the cavalry in tracking down Ulzana and his band of renegade Indians in this fact-based story.
|Ken Burns: The Civil War (Commemorative Edition)
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Ken Burns' Emmy Award-winning documentary brings to life America's most destructive - and defining - conflict. The Civil War is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one. The 150th Anniversary Six Disc DVD set includes never-before-seen special features including new interview with Ken Burns, Shelby Foote interview outtakes, and a bonus 16-page collector's booklet featuring a selection of photos and battle details.
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