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March 15th, 2013

Movie Review - Emperor


Starring: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Masayoshi Haneda, Eriko Hatsune, Colin Moy, William Wallace, Masato Ibu, Toshiyuki Nishida, Takataro Kataoka, and more.

Directed by: Peter Webber Screenplay by: Vera Blasi and David Klass Based on the book by: Shiro Okamoto Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh Original Music by: Alex Heffes

Premise: After General MacArthur and his entourage arrive in Japan for the occupation after the country's surrender, he tasks Brigadier General Bonner Fellers with finding proof, one way or the other, with regards to Emperor Hirohito's involvement in the decision for Japan to enter World War II. While Bonner struggles to complete the seemingly impossible task within the ten days he's been given, he's also searching for the woman he fell in love with years before - the Japanese beauty, Aya.  (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Matthew Fox did a great job as Fellers. The tensions pulling his character in different directions between his hope and despair about finding Aya; his need to find evidence one way or the other about the Emperor; trying to respect Japanese traditions even as they make his efforts more difficult; his pain and horror at the devastation of places he'd frequented before the war; Matthew Fox brought these forth for the audience to see and feel with him every step of the way.

Tommy Lee Jones was wonderful in his portrayal of the enigmatic General MacArthur. Colin Moy had us guessing as he kept trying to sow discord to make things go his way. Eriko Hatsune embodied Japan's promise as well as imparting different views and troubles for women of that time.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The film showed some of the best and most realistic looking decimated areas - and they spanned the breadth and depth of the screen without looking like they'd been added on. The shot of Tokyo's burning skyline was horribly eerie.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The story is told from General Bonner Fellers' point of view. As we follow him during his investigations, the audience also gets to see into his past, to understand some of the needs that are driving him. Being acquainted with both worlds, he's the perfect medium by which to introduce all the different sides and points of view on both the war, the world, the Japanese people, and what drives them.

Adding in the concurrent story of his search for Aya, we also catch a glimpse of the feelings the survivors felt as they searched for loved ones and saw places they loved totally destroyed beyond recognition.

It was utterly fascinating seeing into this period of time. The many ways it could have all gone so terribly wrong will make you shudder.

4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Filmed in Japan and New Zealand, there was no shortage of great locations - the outside of the real Imperial Palace, old fashioned Japanese classrooms, country homes with beautiful gardens and ponds. Many places seen in the flashbacks are revisited, shocking us with the devastation brought upon them during the war. Others appear untouched by the bombings, but the wounds are hidden inside, for many of those who'd lived there are now gone.

5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Fantastic job by the costuming and makeup departments. Great attention to detail with the styles of clothing and hairstyles popular in the different places and times.

Conclusion: An emotionally moving, fascinating, and multifaceted view of a pivotal time in history. Matthew Fox was outstanding. The longer the film went on, the more human he became, and the more layers were uncovered in the complexity of those manipulating the times. If you're only looking for something full of action and explosions, though, this won't be for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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