Directed By: Peter Webber

Starring: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune, Toshiyuki Nishida, Kaori Momoi, and Colin Moy

World War II has been done to death on the big screen.  If there's some aspect of WWII that's not been brought back to life on film, I would be genuinely stunned.  Over the last 20 years alone, we've had films like Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, and many more.  That's why another WWII movie is the last thing we need right now, but that's exactly what we're getting.  This weekend, Peter Webber's Emperor hits theaters, and it's all about rebuilding Japan in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the aftermath of the US dropping an atomic bomb, Japan is devastated.  US Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) and his forces arrive in this shell of a nation to rebuild it.  The president has tasked MacArthur with conducting an investigation to determine whether Emperor Hirohito (Takatarô Kataoka) ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor.  If the Emperor is found guilty, he'll be brought to trial for war crimes and hanged.  Killing this symbol of hope could seriously complicate MacArthur's larger mission to rebuild Japan as the people would likely revolt.

With politicians in Washington demanding the Emperor's head, MacArthur has been given a very short timeline of ten days to figure out the Emperor's role in all of this.  That's why he's charged General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox), one who is very familiar with the Japanese, with carrying out this investigation.  General Fellers has a lot to do in ten days.  He really has to do the impossible because loyalty is paramount in Japan.  The Emperor's past and present cabinet members will do anything to protect him.  His Imperial Majesty’s role in the attack is unknowable because the way things appear to be is not the way things really are in this situation.  Meanwhile, Fellers reflects on his previous time spent in Japan and searches for his long lost love Aya (Eriko Hatsune) against all odds in this devastated nation.

Emperor is one bland historical drama.  I seriously thought about getting some shuteye during this one.  Aside from some historical footage of the atom bomb and some photos during the credits of the historical figures on which the movie is based, there's not that much going for this film.  Director Peter Webber has plenty of material with which to work but brings no style or genuine emotion to the film whatsoever.  With generally stale performances, the actors don't bring much to the table either.  Emperor is one of those bad movies to watch on a rainy afternoon when you have nothing better to do and there's nothing better on television.

Peter Webber really drops the ball in Emperor.  The film has no real tension, emotion, or passion.  It's just a dry reenactment of another aspect of World War II.  He brings no real style or vision to the movie.  Emperor should have been a nail-biting emotional drama that would inspire us to revisit this pivotal moment in history for Japanese-American relations.  Clearly, Webber doesn’t get the job done.  I'm ready to close the book on World War II movies and move to a new subject altogether.

The cast doesn't do much better.  As General Bonner Fellers, Matthew Fox fails in so many ways.  Fox doesn't have the charisma or acting range to be the leading man in this film, and it's reflected accordingly in Emperor.  His performance really drags the film down.  As General MacArthur, Tommy Lee Jones mails in his performance.  He only steps up his game a notch in the money scene with the Emperor.  This is clearly not the Academy Award winner we saw in Lincoln and Hope Springs last year.

Emperor leaves a lot to be desired.  Mostly, I wish I hadn't wasted my time to see it.  Emperor gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few pear martinis with this one.