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Setsurô Wakamatsu
Ken Watanabe, Takumi Saitoh, Tomorô Taguchi
Writing Credits:
Yoichi Maekawa

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in Japan risk their lives and stay at the nuclear power plant to prevent total destruction after the region is devastated by an earthquake an tsunami in 2011.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 4/13/2021

• Trailer & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Fukushima 50 [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 7, 2021)

With 2020’s Fukushima 50, we find a movie based on real events. The story takes us to Japan circa 2011.

On March 11, a massive earthquake strikes off the coast of Japan. This creates a tsunami that leaves massive death and destruction in its wake as well.

Included in the calamity, the incident badly damages the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. If 50 brave volunteers don’t risk their lives to stop the impending catastrophe, all of Japan could endure a horrible fate.

Movies about recent history can run into issues due to viewer familiarity. Given that most of us remember the Fukushima disaster, a cinematic take on the topic needs to find something to tell us beyond what we got from the news reports of a decade ago.

To some degree, 50 manages this, as it delves into the behind the scenes efforts of the power plant employees to avert catastrophe. Unfortunately, so much of the film adheres to standard disaster flick tropes that it fails to do justice to the subject matter.

Granted, I understand the desire to bring thrills to the material, tacky as some of these attempts may seem. The events of March 2011 included plenty of real-life deaths, so the usual mayhem and calamity feel borderline crass when depicted in the same tone as a fictional disaster.

This becomes my main issue with 50: it never conveys the gravity a depiction of these dramatic events needs. Given our understanding of how close Japan came to death on a mind-boggling scale, I expect to invest in this material to a higher degree that I do with San Andreas or some other fictional popcorn movie.

50 wants to convey the seriousness of the events but it also wants those big rock-em sock-em thrills as well, and the two sides don’t co-exist especially well. This seems particularly true because the film clearly favors the popcorn side of the street, so it doesn’t try all that hard to present a sense of gravity.

If 50 didn’t involve historical material, I wouldn’t mind these choices so much, but its preference for wild action over character development turns into a weakness. 50 tosses a lot of roles at us – far too many for any to really stick.

As such, we never identify with the characters or really bond with them. Sure, many disaster flicks come with large casts, but this one goes too far and leaves out the usual form of exposition that at least allows us to really get to know a handful of the roles.

Less than stellar production values don’t help either. I couldn’t locate specific budgetary information for 50, but I’d guess it cost somewhere between “relatively little” and “not nearly enough”.

No, 50 doesn’t offer the cheapest-looking film of this sort that I’ve seen, but the effects and sets fail to bring the needed sense of realism. If we don’t swallow the disaster and menace, we can’t dig into the drama, and the lackluster production elements become a distraction.

All of this feels like a shame, as 50 clearly boasts a potentially gripping tale. This version of that story can’t find the human pulse at the core, unfortunately.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Fukushima 50 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a solid transfer here.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. At times, wider shots tended to be a little soft, but those examples weren’t terribly intrusive. Much of the film appeared pretty accurate and concise.

No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minor. Source flaws also failed to create problems.

In terms of colors, 50 tended to stay with a mix of teal and amber typical of the genre. That meant we didn’t get a broad array of hues, but they looked fine for what the film attempted.

Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the good DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of 50. I felt the soundscape delivered an involving experience in which the many disaster scenes offered a nice sense of impact.

The film packed plenty of these elements; we got many instances of earthquakes, waves, aircraft, explosions and other lively components. Overall, the mix filled out the room in a satisfying manner.

Audio quality was positive. Speech came across as natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music showed good range, and effects offered a nice sense of impact.

These were the kind of loud, impressive elements one would anticipate, as they showed solid clarity. This was a well-executed soundtrack.

Note that I watched 50 with its original Japanese audio, but the Blu-ray also includes an English dub – an atrocious English dub, that is. I sampled some of this track out of curiosity, and the “acting” seemed intensely amateurish.

In a bizarre choice, this track even revoiced English dialogue from American characters! And it did so poorly, which made the decision more perplexing.

Even if you really loathe subtitles, I can’t imagine anyone would enjoy the English version. It’s terrible.

The disc opens with an ad for Ashfall. Also Available includes promos for Spacewalker, Attraction 2: Invasion and The Man Standing Next. We get the trailer for 50 as well – complete with awful English dub, unfortunately.

As a version of a real-life disaster, Fukushima 50 comes with enormous potential to offer a dynamic human tale. However, it prefers spectacle to drama, and it does none of these elements especially well. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio along with skimpy bonus materials. Perhaps someday we’ll get a compelling version of this narrative, but 50 doesn’t really work.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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