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I'm really surprised at the positive reviews this film has received and the high IMDb rating. Reading them at times I wondered if we was watching the same movie. I'm going to have to disagree with the other reviewers and say that the film doesn't work, either historically or dramatically.
Historically, it's wildly inaccurate. The whole movie suffers from the need to portray the Japanese in the best possible and most heroic light. A few examples: by April, 1945, the Japanese pilot corps had been almost totally destroyed. The Japanese were unable to train new pilots at the rate they were being killed. This is one reason why they resorted to suicide attacks. And yet we are to believe that large air forces still exist and were not employed in Okinawa because the army was unwilling to attack the American forces and recapture the air fields to the north. Another example is the Yamato. The Japanese Navy in the north had been almost destroyed, and what remained lacked fuel, but the admiralty felt the need to make some sort of gesture and sent their largest battleship. The plan had always been to beach and scuttle the ship on Okinawa and use it as a gun platform, but instead we are told that it's mission was to bravely sail amongst the Americans and fight until it was out of ammo. Unfortunately before she could do that, she was attacked by those dastardly Americans who flew gigantic squadrons of planes against her (100 planes attacking a single ship at once?). What tripe.
Unlike movies like "Tora Tora Tora" or "Midway", there is no attempt to personalize or portray the other side as anything but mindless, bloodthirsty automatons. The Americans are shown as surprisingly weak, unable to cope with the Japanese in hand to hand combat, and most of the Japanese appear to die by artillery fire or mowed down by tanks. It's the kind of chauvinism one would expect from a John Wayne movie.
Now, I don't expect historical accuracy from a John Wayne movie, but I do expect it to be entertaining. However, this movie is just too confusing and poorly written. Worse of all, it resorts to melodrama. I lost count of how many times women and children were used to manipulate the audience's emotions.
All in all, I don't recommend it.
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