Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew Fox, Kaori Momoi, Eriko Hatsune, Takataro Kataoka, Toshiyuki Nishida, Will Wallace, Masato Ibu, Isao Natsuyagi, Nic Sampson, Colin Moy, Sh™hei Hino, Masayoshi Haneda, Masatoshi Nakamura, Gareth Ruck, Marina Narita
Written by: Vera Blasi, David Klass, based on a book by Shiro Okamoto
Directed by: Peter Webber
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent content, brief strong language and smoking (historical)
Running Time: -99
Date: 09/14/2012
IMDB

Emperor (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

General Complexity

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Arguably, the historical drama Emperor misses a chance to dig deeper into some flawed characters and a volatile situation. It also takes questionable liberties with the invention of an interracial love story for the main character that didn't actually happen. And certainly, it would have been fun to see more of Tommy Lee Jones' snappy supporting performance as MacArthur. Overall, the movie could have taken a cue from the similarly structured, but much richer Lincoln.

In 1945, General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives in Tokyo to oversee Japan's surrender and help restore order to the country. He charges General Fellers (Matthew Fox) to round up and arrest any members of the Japanese government or military that had to do with starting the war. But more importantly, he is charged with determining whether Emperor Hirohito (Takataro Kataoka) himself was directly involved. The U.S. government would like Hirohito as a prize, but his arrest could cause the country to fall into chaos. Moreover, Fellers has a conflict of interest, given that he once loved a Japanese girl, Aya (Eriko Hatsune), and now hopes to find her again.

Yet, as with his earlier Girl with a Pearl Earring, director Peter Webber takes a simple, classical approach that makes it feel as if it could have been a movie from the period. The clean, uncluttered camera setups seem to influence the overall tone of the storytelling, editing, and performances, and the interesting details are easy to follow. For the most part, Webber's greatest moments of drama come from small things, such as tense meetings in rooms, and especially the final arrival of Hirohito himself.

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