User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 4 out of 17

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  1. Aug 26, 2013
    I knew that Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur was probably the worst miscasting since the invention of the motion picture. But I hoped for a miracle, that somehow that old dogfaced Texan could transform himself into the patrician MacArthur. He couldn't. It was simply awful. But bad as that was, and it was really bad, it wasn't as bad as the script. You were led to believe that the movie was going to be about MacArthur's administration of postwar Japan a fascinating chapter in that complicated man's history and in Japan's, deserving of a historically accurate and well-acted movie, in the manner of "Lincoln" and Daniel-Day Lewis. Instead, it is about the very beginning of that chapter, a brief period of a few days in which a subordinate of MacArthur's is tasked with ascertaining the guilt of Emperor Hirohito in the war. As anyone who has read "Shogun" knows, Japanese emperors are figureheads who are revered but not expected to actually interfere with prime ministers rather like the British monarch, but with a lot of pretense about his authority he doesn't really have which damn near got him hung at the end of WWII. Stretching that important judgment over a full-length movie might have worked if the history justified it, but it didn't. So the makers went completely off on some romantic subplot, just as the makers of "Midway" did almost 40 years ago, evidently just to kill time. When watching that otherwise estimable movie, I always have to fast-forward past the totally irrelevant melodrama. This melodrama tries to introduce some relevant cultural history out of the mouths of the mooning melodramatis personae, but it's not enough to justify their presence. And then there is the ridiculously implausible drunken fistfight that the main protagonist, a one-star general, gets into because he's mooning over his lost girlfriend. What an embarrassment.

    As is this entire movie, except for the dignity lent by the characters of the Japanese officials. They make you pine for the good movie about that era could have been made.
  2. Mar 8, 2013
    After Japan surrendered in WW2 General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) was sent to help rebuild the country and cement better relations among the two nations that fought each other Along the way he has to find out how involved the Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Takataro Kataoka) has been in the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the actual war. He puts General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) in charge of the investigation, giving him 10 days to investigate and come to the conclusion whether the Emperor should be held for war crimes and possibly executed.

    In “Emporer” we find a country in ruin except for the royal palaces of the ruler which has maintained its splendor but it is never explained how, which would have made for a more interesting story. Instead we have a mostly fictionalized story of General Fellers and a Japanese woman before the war and his search for her afterwards.

    There are some examples of the different ways the two countries, and the people who lead them, are but not enough not hold the audience’s interest. There are hints of the politics back in the States and those who want the Emperor executed. There is also reference to the possibility that MacArthur may run for President.

    Tommy Lee Jones isn’t on screen long enough but he snaps off his lines so sharply that you wish he had made a longer appearance. Matthew Fox has the longer, starring role but isn’t very commanding in the role of a General and the love story is a complete waste. The screenplay by David KLass and Vera Blasi is far from interesting or even suspenseful regarding what will be the final report on the Emperor. The direction by Peter Weber just sits there.

    For whatever reason all I could think of was the Marlon Brando movie “Saynora” which would be worth more of your time.

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Mark Kermode
    Oct 7, 2013
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Oct 7, 2013
    Fun when Jones is around, dull when he's not, it's all just a little bit of history repeating.
  3. Reviewed by: Trevor Johnston
    Oct 1, 2013
    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.