SINKING OF JAPAN
DOOMSDAY: THE SINKING OF JAPAN; JAPAN SINKS
Sinking of Japan, known internationally under various different titles, is a remake of The Submergence of Japan, and again comes from Toho. The new director Shinji Higuchi had premiered with the J-pop fantasy film Minimoni The Movie: The Great Sweets Adventure (2002) and co-directed Lorelei (2005), an alternate history scenario about Japan winning World War II. Subsequent to this, Higuchi made the historical comedy The Floating Castle (2012) and the two-part live-ation anime adaptation Attack on Titan (2015) and Attack on Titan II: End of the World (2015).
The remake is essentially an attempt to revisit the Sakyo Komatsu novel but with CGI effects technology being employed to create a much more elaborate depiction of the title catastrophe. Certainly, this version gives the impression that the filmmakers have made all effort to research the geology and science of the premise and present it in a way that makes what is happening seem eminently credible. To this extent, the film is often like a series of illustrated manuals where everything from the pieces of equipment being wheeled into operation and the names and significance of the numerous ships are given an on-screen title card to let us know what is happening.
The film has clearly had a reasonable budget thrown at it and produces some often impressive scenes of mass destruction. Unfortunately, Sinking of Japan is not a very interesting film. In Tohos Godzilla films, the human element is almost irrelevant to the mass destruction and monsters attacking each other. You can, for instance, go through all twenty-eight of their Godzilla films in vain searching for a single memorable character arc. Sinking of Japan feels almost exactly like a film comprised of these human scenes but with the monsters taken out. The special effects are used sparingly and most of the human drama is a series of not terribly exciting scenes between submarine pilot Tsuyoshi Kusunagi and his attraction to Ko Shibasakis emergency worker.
Where the film does start to become more interesting is in the grand sociological perspective it takes. Unlike the average disaster movie, it is not focused around individual pieces of spectacle and drama as various cast members try to survive in the disaster zone. Rather it takes the perspective of asking how an entire country might adjust to its imminent destruction. It covers various angles of approach as the government tries to relocate its people in other countries, or the acting prime minister who lies about the magnitude of the disaster and then tries to ensure his own survival. Unlike a Western disaster film, the characters seem far more fatalistic and we see them philosophically greeting the end the prime minister wondering if he should not choose to die along with his country or the old woman wanting to be destroyed along with her family home because it is where her ancestry and personal memories reside.
Trailer here (no English subs):-