Fish Story is a 2009 Japanese film dramedy about how a failed punk rock song from the 1970s ends up saving the world from a meteor that is on a crash course with earth.
Or well, that's what I thought of the film after watching it anyway.
Usually, any sort of movie that uses a disaster as a main plot is easily predictable, and consists of about an hour and a half of carefully distilled boring, with about a total of about 25 minutes of 'Oh, that's pretty!' CG sprinkled throughout. Well, what about turning that hour and a half of boring into some actual storytelling, time jumps, and some absolutely ridiculous, yet inspiring, characters?
That's pretty much what Fish Story is. The film starts off with a man exploring the empty, abandoned streets of Tokyo. The populace has got up and fled in a frenzy upon discovery that a giant meteor is on a collision course with earth. The major countries of the world with sophisticated space programs have tried to take this rock out; all have failed. This is the backdrop for what sounds like your 'average' apocalypse movie, but Fish Story treats this situation as being rather relaxed and low key. The man hears music from a record shop in the area, the only building that doesn't seem completely desolate. Inside are just a couple of young men listening to music. The perplexed man, confused as to why they are listening to music when doom approaches them, inquires as to why they are so relaxed. They say that the song 'Fish Story,' a song they were listening to as the man had entered the shop, will save the world. These conversations between the man and the young men in this music store, is where our story begins. As is common in Japanese film, you have a lot of over exaggerated expressions and gestures, which help make it seem like the apocalypse is just another day.
Throughout the film, there are various Tarantino-esque time jumps to events taking place over a 60 year period, with these events not being displayed in any particular order. The one with the largest focus is of course on the 1970s Japanese punk rock band that creates its last single 'Fish Story,' where the movie gets its name. While the band's story is essential to the big picture, it also does a good job of not overshadowing the film's other stories. Each story is carefully crafted to somehow fit together with the others in a way that helps explain why the hell a song from the 70s ends up saving the planet. The ultimate conclusion to the film is brilliant, and you'll have a real appreciation for the detail put into making this come to life.
While being quite an interesting film, it's certainly not for everyone. There's very little to no action in the movie, so if you're expecting your disaster film to have explosions, or if you just don't like watching foreign subtitled films, this movie probably isn't for you. But if you're into a different kind of disaster movie, or just enjoy a weird film, you'll likely be glued to the screen from start to finish.