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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Fukushima 50 (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


Workers must remain and risk their lives to save many more at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after an earthquake and tsunami damage the structure in this flawed but intense docudrama based on the real events of the 2011 disaster in Japan that gripped the nation and the world.

Fukushima 50 Blu-ray (MPI)In 2011 when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami strikes the region, workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant must stay behind and risk their lives to try to avoid complete devastation in the docudrama Fukushima 50.

The story at the center of this drama is one that gripped not only a nation but the entire world and continues to have repercussions on the region and the global to this day. The problem with telling story about a such complex and devastating disaster is it is very easy to create a film that defaults to the position of hero building, which seems to be the default for this film. Not there aren’t strong points.

Ken Watanabe gives a brilliant performance as the plant manager and Takumi Saitoh is also a standout as plant supervisor who are forced to make difficult choices in order to save lives. The issues are everyone is treated as a hero here and the film does not dive into the mistakes and choices before the natural disaster that led to such a terrible scenario to begin with. Nor does this film really deal with the fallout that the people in the surrounding area must deal with. Compare the brilliant HBO series Chernobyl, for instance, that really gives a wide perspective on the disaster, granted, it is a mini-series with much more space to expand.

There are also some issues with the CGI in Fukushima 50. The waves in the opening tsunami scene look terribly fake, almost like moving cake icing rather than water. Even the buildings collapsing look a bit questionable, but that can be overlooked considering the movie is more about the drama and not the visual effects. The drama is good. There is an intense, suspenseful feeling that is maintained throughout the film courtesy of the superb direction by Setsurô Wakamatsu and excellent performances from the cast.

The Video

Fukushima 50 was shot at 3.4K resolution and uses a 2K DI. It comes to Blu-ray in an AVC 1080p encodement framed at 2.39:1. The image has a rather muted color palette so no colors really ‘pop’ but there’s good clarity and detail overall and the contrast is strong. Light bulbs and warning lights do stand out nicely against the shadows of which there are many in this film.

The Audio

Fukushima 50 has a rather rollicking Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix that roars during the earthquake and tsunami scenes and places multiple sounds through the surround channels during the numerous emergency scenarios at the power plant. There’s excellent low-end extension, clear and full dialogue, and lots of atmospherics, but also a good balance between the quieter dialogue-driven scenes and the active scenes.

The Supplements

This release comes only with the trailer (1080p) for the film and additional trailers.

The Final Assessment

Fukushima 50 is an imperfect yet intense docudrama about the 2011 nuclear meltdown disaster in Japan. If you can buy it and watch it.

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Fukushima 50 is out on Blu-ray April 134, 2021 from Capelight Pictures

  • Studios & Distributors: Fukushima 50 Film Partners | Just Creative Studio | Kadokawa | Shochiku | Capelight Pictures | MPI
  • Director: Setsurô Wakamatsu
  • Written By: Ryûshô Kadota (book) | Yoichi Maekawa (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 121 Mins.
  • Street Date: 13 April 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English | English SDH

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Fukushima 50 (Blu-ray Review)Workers must remain and risk their lives to save many more at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after an earthquake and tsunami damage the structure in this flawed but intense docudrama based on the real events of the 2011 disaster in Japan that gripped the nation and the world.
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