Sinking of Japan, The (UK - DVD R2)
"We should have listened... again!" Marcus yelps as he falls into the sea...
Global scientists have discovered a shocking truth. Within the next ten years, Japan will be sucked into the sea. Unwilling to accept this as a reality, geoscientist Yusuke Tadokoro (Etsushi Toyokawa) sets out on his own quest to discover Japan’s fate only to come to the shocking revelation that the ten year guesstimate was incorrect. Japan only has 338.54 days before the big sink.
With Japan’s population being evacuated and a series of apocalyptic events building up pace across the country, Tadokoro hatches a plan consisting of mega bombs being strategically placed across Japan’s ocean bed, which when triggered during the event, should cause the country to split in half and the overwhelming collapse of the sacrificed section will theoretically fill the enormous sink hole, preventing a larger disaster. Now all they need is the right deep sea submarine pilot, Tetsuo Onodera (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi) and a lot of luck.
The Sinking of Japan (or Nihon Chinbotsu) was actually released in 2006, but I guess with 2012 doing the rounds, the time for a UK release seemed right. The movie isn’t really on the scale of 2012 (what is?) but it’s certainly got a large scale catastrophe to roll out for its audience and for the most part it keeps a straight face about events, opting for the melodrama of the human reaction ala Deep Impact as opposed to the “quick, run away from the fire and bring the dog” Emmerich approach.
For the first half an hour or so (which actually flew by) it was hard to pin the style of the movie down. Yes, it had a few Michael Bay-isms, with sweeping camera shots of the actors or scenic shots of two lovers talking about stuff with bright orange sunsets behind them, but director Shinji Higuchi also goes to lengths to bring us the science and the proposed procedure in a game changing event.
Text arrives on screen backing up the visuals of armies preparing or special task forces (and even hyper rescue squads) that give us details about preparations and they read as if they are facts (this could be the translation as opposed to the intent). This element grounds everything in a believable situation and when that’s countered with tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and great masses of land dropping into the sea, The Sinking of Japan becomes a very easy disaster movie to get into.
As is the way of these things, the faceoff with nature comes down to a single man’s final act, which in turn is to save the love of his life and his close friends that have been mistreated (as well as his mother who he’ll make sure he phones from here on in). Government leaders that sucked get theirs and the good ones emerge as the obvious leaders to see us into the new world and of course there’s some big ass explosions to show mother nature that we have bigger booms than she does and that crazy plans always work out in the end.
Despite a mixed palette of colour and plenty of varied locations, the transfer here is quite underwhelming and doesn’t really sell what could be quite a good looking film. The biggest issue is the soft image and how fine detail is sorely missed.
This is most apparent in the effects shots. Google Earth style shots of Japan just look like grey clumps with bits of fire as opposed to a detailed aerial shot of the country and much of the (mostly) fine CGI work really can’t be appreciated because of the dullness of the presentation.
Overall the transfer generally looks okay throughout and its varied use of techniques from archival news footage, to beautifully lit movie making and CGI work all fare well enough but the limitations of the standard definition transfer sells the movie short and the devastating events of Japan sinking could look far better.
For a movie that’s all about the utter devastation of a country, the majority of the movie revolves around conversations about the events as opposed to sitting through them and for the first tick in the box, the dialogue is presented well.
But who cares about dialogue right? How does the devastation sound? Well, for the most part its loud and bass heavy but not all that subtle. The speakers have a good split of the elements in the build up to the events but as the tidal waves roll in or the building collapse the sounds builds up to just an overwhelming roar as opposed to a well orchestrated sound mix. The track does a good enough job but it’s certainly not in line with the other disaster flicks out there and the less said about the funky saxophone soundtrack the better.
There are none here. Guess they got sucked into the ocean.
With the scary science of The Day After Tomorrow, the melodrama of Deep Impact and the schmaltz of Armageddon, it’s a refreshing surprise that The Sinking of Japan played out as believably as it did. Not knowing the actors and having that language barrier probably helped to sell it a little better but somehow this one worked for me as a fine look at how a country could fall apart under the shadow of utter destruction and further proof that when all else fails us humans result to bombing stuff.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 8th March 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanense, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Japanese
Easter Egg: No
Director: Shinji Higuchi
Cast: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kou Shibasaki, Etsushi Toyokawa
Genre: Drama and Thriller
Length: 124 minutes
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