Title – Emperor (2012)
Director – Peter Webber (Girl With a Pearl Earring)
Cast – Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune
Plot – After the Japanese surrender to the allied forces at the close of World War 2 General Bonner Fellers (Fox) is tasked by General Douglas MacArthur (Lee Jones) to mount an investigation into the roll Emperor Hirohito (Takataro Kataoka) played in the attack of Pearl Harbor and subsequent events. Bonner’s investigation is made all the more difficult due to his ties to Japan from his relationship with Japanese girl Aya (Hatsune).
“Let’s show them some good, old-fashioned American swagger.”
Review by Eddie on 11/09/2013
It’s intriguing when a film that seemed to offer up so much promise both in a story sense and casting sense gets lost in the film wilderness, Emperor is one of those films. I was looking forward to catching this film and seeing for myself if I could pin point it’s failings that made it just a dud at the box office and such a misfire with critics. After watching Emperor it’s safe to say I now know why.
Emperor tells a very worthwhile and interesting story that acts as an important closure to the history of World War 2. It’s failings as a film however stem from its distinct lack of personality and a worryingly missing heartbeat. Throughout its entire running time Emperor never stamps it’s own footprint or never grabs the viewer in a way a truly moving or inspirational film does. This is a strange occurrence when one considers the story on which it is based and the true life characters it attempts to shine a light upon.
First things first when it comes to the actors, Tommy Lee Jones may have 15 minutes screen time in the film so despite many trailers and posters for the film portraying him as the “man” of the picture as larger than life figure General MacArthur. This is very much Bonner Fellers picture as played by Matthew Fox. Fox does a decent job but one feels he may need to invest in a new agent. So great in TV show Lost, Fox has meandered along in recent years appearing in duds like Alex Cross or getting almost entirely cut from World War Z and finally given a central role here it feels as though it is not a great mix of actor and material, which is a shame as a better casting choice for Fellers may have bought Emperor the identity it needed to find another level.
As an insight into World War 2 history Emperor is a fine piece of film but as anything more not so much. It features a very misjudged by the numbers romantic side story between Fellers and Japanese born Aya which features just a slight to many piano backed flashback or frolic through the bamboo forest to really resonate on any level. This type of misguided direction really stops Emperor from ever reigning and in the end allows it to only be merely adequate whilst never horribly bad.
2 and a half bamboo forests out of 5