At the very least, you’d expect there to be some tension and intrigue in a period piece focusing on a pivotal moment in history, but Emperor dropped the ball by moving the focus away from what was the single most interesting aspect of its many moving parts by far.
Set in the aftermath of Japan surrendering at the end of World War II, a high-ranking expert is tasked to deliberate as to whether or not Emperor Hirohito should be tried and hanged as a war criminal, with Tommy Lee Jones’ giving his best furrowed brow as General Douglas MacArthur.
Instead, Emperor shies away from what should have been its narrative driving force to focus on the insipid romance struck up by Matthew Fox’s General Bonner Fellers and Eriko Hatsune’s Aya, an exchange student he’d met previously in the United States. The course of history was ready to be changed forever, but what we ended up with was a devastatingly boring love story.
A 32 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and 46 percent user rating indicate just how badly Emperor dropped the ball, but that hasn’t stopped it from inexplicably becoming one of the most popular titles on Netflix from out of absolutely nowhere. As per FlixPatrol, the interminably uninteresting historical drama has jumped a mind-blowing 88 places on the platform’s global charts overnight, and it’s now the ninth top-viewed feature on the planet among subscribers.
It’s been a decade since Emperor tanked at the box office and was greeted with apathy from critics and audiences, but it just goes to show you can never write any film off in the weird and wonderful world of Netflix.