Sinking of Japan

Nippon slides into the ocean in fairly unexciting fashion throughout "Sinking of Japan," a second, more FX-savvy but curiously not tense version of the novel first filmed in 1973. Of interest to sci-fi nuts, but not many else offshore, the pic took in a sizable but not seismic $48 million locally last summer, only slightly more than the original pic over a similar period.

With:
With: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kou Shibasaki, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Mayuko Fukuda, Hideko Yoshida, Akira Emoto, Jun Kunimura, Koji Ishizaka, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mao Daichi.

Nippon slides into the ocean in fairly unexciting fashion throughout “Sinking of Japan,” a second, more FX-savvy but curiously not tense version of the novel first filmed in 1973. Of interest to sci-fi nuts, but not many else offshore, the pic took in a sizable but not seismic $48 million locally last summer, only slightly more than the original pic over a similar period.

Helmer Shinji Higuchi, a special effects designer-turned-director with local hit “Lorelei” (2005), is stronger on FX (impressive here) than on human drama. After an underwater quake trashes the city of Numazu, boffins find Japan is being dragged down into the Pacific by a sliding plate. Worse, it’ll all be over in 338 days, rather than the 40 years first predicted. Scenes of devastation pepper a script composed, in rote disaster-movie style, of a clutch of human-interest stories: a tomboyish rescue officer (Kou Shibasaki, from “One Missed Call”); a maverick scientist (Etsushi Toyokawa) and his ex (Mao Daichi); and a deep-sea submersible operator (Tetsuo Onodera), who singlehandedly has to save what remains of the flooded country. Perfs are fine, but drama is thin.

Sinking of Japan

Japan

Production: A Toho Co. release of a TBS Pictures production. (International sales: TBS, Tokyo.) Produced by Toshiaku Nakazawa. Executive producers, Kunikatsu Kondo, Kazuya Hamana. Directed by Shinji Higuchi. Screenplay, Masato Kato, based on the novel "Japan Sinks" (Nippon chinbotsu) by Sakyo Komatsu.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Taro Kawazu; editor, Hiroshi Okuda; music, Taro Iwadai. Reviewed on DVD, London, May 12, 2007. (In Far East Film Festival, Udine.) Original title: Nippon chinbotsu. Running time: 134 MIN.

With: With: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kou Shibasaki, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Mayuko Fukuda, Hideko Yoshida, Akira Emoto, Jun Kunimura, Koji Ishizaka, Etsushi Toyokawa, Mao Daichi.

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