Flashback to 1983: Director Nagisa Oshima's "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence," set during World War II in a Japanese-run POW camp in Java, is opening in theaters across Japan. It starred David Bowie with two huge local stars: comedian Beat Takeshi and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. The film confronted the reality of fascist wartime brutality, while also sending a message of reconciliation. It was a huge hit.

Flash forward to 2016: Angelina Jolie's movie "Unbroken," also set in a POW camp and starring another rock star, Miyavi, is lucky to even be opening. This big-budget Hollywood production, scripted by the Coen Bros. and shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, was dropped by the usual distributor of Universal movies, Toho-Towa, who seemingly caved in to pressures from netto uyoku (outspoken ultra-rightist Internet users). Now, at last, it is opening at a few art houses, thanks to a different distributor. But beyond the controversy, is the movie any good?

"Unbroken" is based on the life of Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O'Connell), a tough Italian-American kid who was well down the path to juvenile delinquency when he discovered a passion for running and competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. When war broke out, Zamperini enlisted, serving as a bombardier over the Pacific until he was shot down. He survived 47 days at sea and then a grueling two years in Japanese POW camps.