Emperor

Metascore
48

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Mar 7, 2013
    75
    In the end, probably the best way to watch Emperor is to pretend that the Supreme Command of Allied Forces in Japan after World War II was Tommy Lee Jones. If you do that, the movie works surprisingly well.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Mar 6, 2013
    75
    As is the case with most of the elements in Emperor, the cliches are relatively few and spaced apart, and the tearjerking and profound moments are authentic and well-earned.
  3. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Mar 6, 2013
    75
    The real star of the film is the magnetic, forceful and charismatic Matthew Fox, who steals the entire film as easily as if he were pitching a softball.
  4. Reviewed by: Louis Black
    Mar 6, 2013
    67
    The film bites off much more than it can chew, raising far more issues and personalities than it can successfully weave into one overall narrative.
  5. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Mar 6, 2013
    67
    Emperor explores the delicate postwar dance of revenge, justice, and realpolitik, yet its focus on the issue of Hirohito's guilt or innocence (did he order the attack on Pearl Harbor? Or did he, in fact, oppose the Japanese military machine?)
  6. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Mar 6, 2013
    67
    Emperor is also one of those movies in which the most intriguing occurrences are revealed by "what-happened-to . . ." title cards at the finale.
  7. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Mar 8, 2013
    63
    This drama is serious and well made but will appeal primarily to those with an interest in the devastated setting (1945 Tokyo) and the enigmatic title character (Emperor Hirohito).
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Mar 8, 2013
    63
    Some of the film's most illuminating scenes involve Aya's uncle, General Kajima (Toshiyuki Nishida), who schools Fellers on the sense of duty that is ingrained in Japanese culture.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 7, 2013
    63
    This true-ish story adds a romantic subplot to the prosecution of Japanese war criminals by American general Douglas MacArthur, but neither the love nor the war are completely baked.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Mar 7, 2013
    63
    Only near the end, when MacArthur and Hirohito meet in person, do we get fireworks. And that's thanks to Jones, who makes sure this old soldier will never die in our memory. As for this tepid movie, it just fades away.
  11. 63
    Tommy Lee Jones gives us a saltier version of MacArthur than the image-conscious general ever let on to.
  12. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Oct 7, 2013
    60
    Fun when Jones is around, dull when he's not, it's all just a little bit of history repeating.
  13. Reviewed by: Trevor Johnston
    Oct 1, 2013
    60
    It’s all done with care and authentic Japanese locations, and is engrossing for anyone with an interest in the subject. But there’s scant drama as proceedings plod their way towards mutual understanding.
  14. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Mar 7, 2013
    60
    There’s far too little of MacArthur’s strutting on display. Granted, that’s not the movie Webber was making. But you kind of wish it was.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike D Angelo
    Mar 13, 2013
    58
    Since Hirohito remained in ceremonial power until his death in 1989, there’s no suspense about the outcome. Instead, the film offers a labored treatise on the Japanese national character, with endless speeches about honor, devotion, loyalty, and the people’s reverence for their emperor as a human deity.
  16. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Mar 28, 2013
    50
    Aside from Jones’s broadly entertaining performance as the egotistical Supreme Commander, the movie, directed by Peter Webber (The Girl with the Pearl Earring), is a dud.
  17. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    “Let’s show ’em some good old-fashioned American swagger,’’ MacArthur says on his arrival in Tokyo. It’s too bad director Webber and the screenwriters, David Klass and Vera Blasi, didn’t take his advice to heart instead of largely wasting Jones and some very nice period details.
  18. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    When MacArthur stands side by side with Hirohito (Takatarô Kataoka), it’s the ultimate in victor-vanquished encounters. That’s also true whenever Jones shares a scene with Fox.
  19. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Mar 7, 2013
    50
    This one's likely to vex both history buffs and those who require some drama with their drama.
  20. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Mar 6, 2013
    50
    Emperor may not be the most dazzling of history lessons, but it never treats the past as a dusty, deserted place.
  21. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Mar 5, 2013
    50
    The movie is never without forward momentum, it's just too bad when just when it's ready to go to interesting places, we jump back to Bonner and Aya's pedestrian romance.
  22. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 7, 2013
    42
    It's almost too bad, then, that MacArthur and Jones take a back seat to the far less interesting Gen. Bonner Fellers in the stolid drama Emperor.
  23. Reviewed by: Mark Kermode
    Oct 7, 2013
    40
    Thank heaven for Jones's reliable grouchiness, his bloodhound eyes, high-belted paunch, and deader-than-deadpan drawl offering welcome relief from the historical schmaltz.
  24. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Sep 30, 2013
    40
    Good intentions, vivid setting and TLJ on top form do not make up for a lack of anything truly compelling.
  25. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Mar 8, 2013
    40
    Emperor’s bloodless presentation fails on a fundamental dramatic level, playing like the fancy version of a junior-high educational filmstrip, down to the false suspense of Alex Heffes’ corny ticking-clock score.
  26. Reviewed by: Joel Arnold
    Mar 8, 2013
    40
    So it seems like the next logical step in telling a story with a relationship to truth might be that if you're going to fudge things, at least make it entertaining. Please, pull an "Argo."
  27. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Mar 7, 2013
    40
    The war crimes and romance stories theoretically run on parallel tracks, but the overall pacing is ragged and the dialogue frequently out of step with the characters we've met.
  28. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Mar 7, 2013
    40
    Mr. Jones’s performance is the only spark within this otherwise dull, well-mannered exercise.
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Mar 7, 2013
    40
    Director Peter Webber (“Girl With a Pearl Earring”) fills the film with conciliatory emotion and jarring vistas of post-atomic landscapes. Unfortunately, Emperor needs more good ol’-fashioned swagger.
  30. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Mar 5, 2013
    40
    Director Peter Webber, who once mined social unease from the painterly "Girl with a Pearl Earring," is out of his depth; this is a movie in desperate need of a no-nonsense Howard Hawks.
  31. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Mar 5, 2013
    30
    Given its true-life basis, the story is already devoid of suspense regarding Hirohito’s ultimate fate, and Fellers’s inquiry is made more sluggish by dramatically inert conversations with Japanese officials.
  32. Reviewed by: Esther Yi
    Mar 2, 2013
    25
    Peter Webber's historical drama is blunt about its stylistic ambitions while at the same time failing to meet them, and the effect is one of sad ineffectuality.
  33. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 8, 2013
    20
    There's really nothing definitive about Emperor. Or memorable, for that matter.
User Score
5.6

Mixed or average reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 7
  2. Negative: 3 out of 7
  1. Mar 8, 2013
    10
    Surprisingly someone like tommy lee jones has compelled with a war film and Peter Webber has made a film so special that anyone will cry atSurprisingly someone like tommy lee jones has compelled with a war film and Peter Webber has made a film so special that anyone will cry at the climax. When I mean anyone I mean everyone. Full Review »
  2. Sep 6, 2015
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. An interesting dramatic take on the people and affairs of the time. Roughly a third of the movie is dedicated to a romance that becomes central to the character. It seems to me entirely invented but it only detracts from the movie if one is looking for a documentary. The epilogue seemingly implies that Fellers is demoted related to his report or actions in the film. In reality this was not the case, many generals were reverted to colonel at the end of the war and Fellers was reinstated to the retired rank of brigadier general in 1948. Also the film mentions he was awarded the " Second Order of the Sacred Treasure" but strangely does not explicitly state that this was an honor awarded by Emperor Hirohito. Which I think makes it all the more unique and meaningful. Full Review »
  3. Nov 23, 2014
    0
    This movie is seriously rubbish, seems just like a typical weeaboo movie. It is seriously biased towards the japanese where they are trying toThis movie is seriously rubbish, seems just like a typical weeaboo movie. It is seriously biased towards the japanese where they are trying to justify their bloody actions happened during the World War Full Review »