Nihon Chinbotsu is another example of Japanese creativity and ingenuity. The original story written in the early seventies is truly incredible in terms of thrill and how thought-provoking it was. Very basically, the story is about the Japanese archipelago “sinking” into the ocean due to plate tectonics. I’m not an expert on this branch of science, so I can’t say how realistic the science behind the disaster is, but it sounded very believable as a layman.
There are many elements which make this disaster movie stand out compared to other disaster flicks like Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Twister, etc. No matter what devastation there is in the aforementioned movies, the land itself remains to fix. The people can rise out of the rubble, is usually the end of the film. However, Japan sinking means that the Japanese can’t do anything to rebuild their homeland. Japanese will have to live somewhere else forever. Which raises many philosophical questions. What happens to a people without a homeland? Are the Japanese going to be worth anything to the other nations when they’ve lost their factories, cities, cultural artifacts? More specifically, do the Japanese today have any value? Will the Japanese have to simply assimilate into other nations and disappear as a unique civilization?
This film is a remake of the 1970s classic which is itself the film adaptation of the novel. There are many changes, one being the obvious CGI which is on par with Hollywood standards (which some may find a prerequisite for a good disaster film). But there are some crucial story edits that some may find for better or worse. I personally found the differences neither better or worse, just another alternate ending. This remake however is a bit faster pace and focuses more on the destruction and relies heavily on the action to keep people excited, which was probably not the intention of Komatsu Sakyo, the author. The questions raised continue to exist in this remake but are not the main focus of the film.
In conclusion, this remake is exciting as an action packed disaster flick with great CGI destroying familiar sites (if you’re Japanese) as well as a thought-provoking film. What’s great about it is that if you want to just watch it as an action flick, you can, if you want to think about the questions raised, you can as well, but you won’t be forced to. It’s a good balance. I would recommend it.
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