Japanese big-boat WWII drama "Yamato" surges with patriotism, sentiment and gore but is unlikely to hit many targets outside Nipponese waters. A combo of "Titanic" and "Pearl Harbor," blockbuster garnered strong local biz during the winter after a slow pre-Christmas launch.

Japanese big-boat WWII drama “Yamato” surges with patriotism, sentiment and gore but is unlikely to hit many targets outside Nipponese waters. A combo of “Titanic” and “Pearl Harbor,” blockbuster garnered strong local biz during the winter after a slow pre-Christmas launch. Centering on the wartime exploits of the largest naval vessel ever, yarn will appeal to military buffs and Asia completists, and the bloody finale, reminiscent of the opening reels of “Saving Private Ryan,” is gruelingly impressive.

On the 60th anniversary of the sinking of Japanese mega-battleship Yamato, fisherman and former crewmember Kamio (Tatsuya Nakadai) responds to a request to travel to the vessel’s final resting place. Venture triggers flashbacks, good and bad, for Kamio, as pic balances the shock and awe of the boat’s size with the crew‘s human drama. Recreation of the original vessel, augmented by CGI, is striking but not entirely convincing. Similarly, with the notable exception of Shidou Nakamura’s turn as Petty Officer Uchida, pic never transcend melodrama to provide desperately needed authenticity. Vet director Junya Sato keeps multiple strands in formation, though the material is ultimately too unwieldy. Tech credits are fine.

Yamato

Japan

Production

A Toei presentation of a Chugoku Shimbun, Hiroshima Home TV, Hokkaido Broadcasting Co., Kadokawa Haruki Jimusho, Nagasaki Broadcasting Co., TV Asahi, Asahi Shimbun, Toei Animation Co., Toei Co., Tokyo FM Broadcasting Co. production. (International sales: Toei, Tokyo.) Produced by Haruki Kadokawa, Sunao Sakagami, Hiroshi Hayakawa. Executive producers, Tan Takaiwa, Michisada Hirose. Co-producers, Toshio Zushi, Noriko Koyanagi, Noriko Murakami. Directed, written by Junya Sato, from an original story by Jun Henmi.

Crew

Camera (color), Yoshitaka Sakamoto; editor, Takeo Yoneda; music, Joe Hisaishi; production designers, Toshiyuki Matsumiya, Nariyuki Kondo. Reviewed at Hong Kong Filmart, March 21, 2006. Running time: 138 MIN.

With

Takashi Sorimachi, Shidou Nakamura, Kyoka Suzuki, Tetsuya Watari, Tatsuya Nakadai.
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