I'll start by saying I'm a prior Marine, with family ties to the island-hopping campaign in The Pacific (Great Grandfather fought on Iwo Jima). To say I was ecstatic to see the trailer for Apocalypse '45 would be an understatement. I went into the film excited for (what could've been) THE Pacific Campaign's modern documentary. After watching the "virtual cinema" release, I am left amazed at the footage, but frustrated at the director's editing style.
First, the content.
Hearing the voices of men who fought in The Pacific, with the backdrop of the phenomenal footage left me absolutely stupefied at times. Seeing such crisp, clear shots of events that took place 70+ years ago, while the servicemen narrating told their story, was unbelievable. The "remastering" of the footage was near-perfect. Many times throughout the 103 min runtime I caught myself literally dropping my jaw. No amount of book-reading on the subject, written by men who were there, can prepare you for watching the events unfold on screen (in stunning 4k I'll add, what a time to be alive!).
Secondly, the directors almost lazy approach to editing almost ruined the documentary for me, which is saying ALOT with the amount of unbelievable footage I was taking in.
To be honest, it literally felt like a cheap rip-off of the recently released documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old" (WWI Remastered Footage Documentary, directed by Peter Jackson), all the way down to the slow zoom-in-on-old-film opening shot. But my number one complaint was the cliché quick-cut to black screen every 5 seconds (slight over exaggeration) in a poor attempt to keep the viewer wanting more. It felt like every time you became familiar with what was on the screen, you were dropped into yet another extremely long, drawn out black screen, forcing you to wait for more footage. It's a great effect that can have an amazing impact on the viewer when used once or twice, but Erik Nelson (Director) decided to drop us into the monolith of anticipation thirty too many times, and seemed to justify the overused, lazy, anticipation-inducing effect by adding (what seemed to be) mostly random "tidbits" on the War in the Pacific. That alone almost ruined the documentary itself.
Finally, the documentary closes with filmed introductions by the Veterans who narrated the film- there could be no better ending to a WWII documentary, than to have the extremely special men that are left (and how few they have become) be shown to the viewers! Even in the relatively short run time, you do feel a connection to these men by getting a very small glimpse into their lives during The War. But the interviewer ruins this special moment by showing the viewers a single, power hungry clap (not even a foot in front of the 90+ year old vets faces) to have each Vet kick off their introduction. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch the old-timers jump when clapped at to start their intro. Just odd and unnecessary for us to see the interviewer start the interview...
Ultimately, it felt like some senior in high school got their hands on some "cool old war footage" and threw the documentary together after watching "They Shall Not Grow Old". Nonetheless- I am rating 9/10. Footage alone has me talking about this film to anyone who will listen. I am just hoping this is not the only "remastered footage" WWII Pacific documentary we will see before the centennial- The Pacific War deserves a better documentary.