Historical dramas are a tricky genre as most of the history itself is interesting, but the stuff leading up to it is not. Depending on how the film is crafted and those involve really determine how well the film works overall. The latest Emperor brings Tommy Lee Jones playing the legendary General Douglas MacArthur along with Matthew Fox as General Bonner Fellers, but do they have the story to bring this historical story to life?
Emperor follows the end of World War II following the surrender of the Japanese as General MacArthur takes on the role of defacto ruler of Japan as General Fellers sets out on an investigation to determine if the Emperor of Japan should be tried and hanged as a war criminal. This is a well shot and acted film with all the visuals that are needed to bring this time period and story to life. While Jones seemed to get the forefront of the promotions, this is a Matthew Fox movie. Here you follow his work as investigates the Emperor with him only meeting with Jones’ MacArthur from time to time. His few moments in the film are great as usual and he brings the needed leadership and confidence that was needed to bring this icon of war to life. Fox does a great job with this role bringing the inquisitive nature and honesty this character needed for the task at hand and to make him believable. There are some elements of a love story of Fox’s character and while may be factual really drug the story down at times and just felt a bit out of place. This already included one of the most important moments in history between Japan and America so would have been nice to see more a direct focus there and a deeper look at both sides. The movie plays well, but is slow paced due to the content and may not be able to pull the average viewer in.
This is a really important, well-acted, and excellent movie, but isn’t for everyone. This is a thinking movie that requires you to pay attention to what is going on and the importance of these events to really understand not only the journey but how the ending affected history.