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  Publicity Stills of "Sinking of Japan"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Drama/Disaster
Director: Shinji Higuchi
Starring: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kou Shibasaki, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mao Daichi, Mitsuhiro Oikawa
RunTime: 2 hrs 15 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG

Official Website: http://www.nc06.jp/

Release Date: 26 October 2006

Synopsis :

When Sakyo Komatsu's novel, "Japan Sinks" hit the bookstores in March 1973, it became an instant bestseller. The story grew into a social and cultural phenomenon that has since attached itself to the Japanese national psyche. Now, 33 years on, director Shinji Higuchi brings the legendary story back to life, against a contemporary backdrop with an all-star cast (which includes Tsuyoshi Kusanagi from SMAP and Kou Shibasaki), a US$20 million production budget and all the modern day filmmaking techniques to do full justice to the original novel's vision.

Movie Review:

Godzilla, Ultra man and Earthquakes.

What do they have in common? Mere mention of these names and the first thing that comes into people’s mind would be Japan. They are iconic trademarks of Japan and offer a strange fascination of demolition of city skyscrapers that are never really duplicated in any other places. After a long hiatus of Japan mega disaster in Singapore cinemas, when the trailer for Sinking of Japan hit our local theatre, it got this reviewer’s anticipation going.

The special effect in this movie (which bits of it were shown in the trailer) does invoke a sense of awe. The skyscrapers of Tokyo and shrine of Kyoto collapsing with tidal waves (tsunami) enveloping the country’s seaports as desperate citizen tried to escape the sinking Japan were simply impressive.

The drama aspect of this movie played like most movies with major natural disaster theme, there is always a romantic angle to play up the viewers’ support for the survival of the poor victims in the midst of certain doom. Here in this case, Sinking of Japan got Kou Shibasaki &Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (SMAP) to play up the dramatic love story of a rescue worker and a deep sea explorer.

A well crafted love story in such disaster looming around type of movie (think Titanic) will engage viewers’ attention and emotion but if there’s lack of chemistry, these tender moments will bogged down the pace of this movie into a slow crawl and that exactly what happened in this movie. If you wish that the movie could jump to the next disaster scene while watching Kou Shibasaki &Tsuyoshi Kusanagi confessing their love for each other, don’t worry! You are not the only one.

That isn’t the only thing that didn’t get it going for Sinking of Japan. The other bit would be the “science” and wrap up of this movie. The explanation of why Japan is sinking in this movie was done in the most uninteresting manner that unless you have a passion of geography, you probably won’t pay much attention to what being blabber out.

It’s also hard to believe in the solution provided by the “mad” scientist who was just last seen slamming and screaming at the monitor after the monitor presented to him that Japan is sinking faster than expected.

Even if you are able to accept his proposal of blasting of the earth crust layer that dragging Japan down and worldwide drillers are willing to come together to help achieve this dangerous mission, you might find the choice of detonation just too unbelievable. In the midst of earthquakes and moving grounds, the detonation is almost as difficult as poking a thread through a needle hole and among the hundreds of drillers, they could only afford one submarine to activate the detonation.

If the scientists in this movie are so advance that they could create explosives with almost nuclear like power, why can’t they have a remote detonation in the first place?

The answer? That’s because it need to set up the predictable climatic finale.

My fellow reviewer mentioned to me that Sinking of Japan made Day After Tomorrow look like a classic and since I haven’t seen that movie before, I can’t really make any similar verdict. Overall the special effects of destruction of Japan were a nostalgically satisfying but the story and cast were quite a let down.

Movie Rating:

(Sinking of Japan barely managed to stays a float for a two hour movie)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


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