Rodan (1956)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Movie Connections:
> Rodan (1956)
> Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
> Invasion Of Astro-Monster (1965)
> Destroy All Monsters (1968)
> Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)
Ishirô Honda Ishirô Honda
Kenji Sahara Kenji Sahara
Yumi Shirakawa Yumi Shirakawa
Akihiko Hirata Akihiko Hirata
Akio Kobori Akio Kobori
Yasuko Nakada Yasuko Nakada

6.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Creature Film, Sci-Fi Action, Science Fiction, Kaiju
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Review by Crispy
Added: September 28, 2007
In 1956, Toho unveiled yet another monster that would go on to earn itself a spot in many people's Top 5 Kaiju lists. Rodan not only introduces us to the famous reptilian bird that would later fight alongside Godzilla against many a giant space-monster, but it also marks the company's first foray in color.

A Japanese mining crew has run into a bit of a problem. While digging deep into one of their shafts, the tunnel floods with water. Assessing the situation after they evacuate, they find two of their own, Yoshi and Goro, are still in the cave. They go down to find their comrades, only to find Yoshi's mutilated body. Because the two had a fight before hand, everyone is convinced that Goro murdered him, a theory that is enforced when police who investigate are dealt the same fate. Shigeru doesn't believe this, but no one listens to him as he's engaged to Goro's sister, Kiyo. However, he's able to prove his friend's innocence when the two of them are attacked by a giant insect. Realizing what the constant mining has awakened, the armed forces are sent into the mine to eradicate them. Unfortunately, the resulting battle causes a giant landspill that releases something much more deadly. Out of two giant eggs hatch the rodans, flying reptiles capable of supersonic flight. Now, the nations of the world must unite to end this threat.

When it comes to these Japanese films, it's pretty much a rule of thumb that any English dubbing is terrible, so it's always preferable to get the version with subtitles. Unfortunately, this one proved rather hard to track down and I had to deal with what I had. As luck would have it, Rodan's dub job was actually pretty decent. Still not good of course, but it wasn't that fast monotone that's usually associated with the genre. Still, you really can't say much about the acting when watching a dubbed movie, but our actors seemed to go through the motions convincingly enough.

Unfortunately, despite personally being a fan of Rodan, his debut flick really didn't impress me. The biggest problem was pacing. The movie clocks in at around seventy-two minutes, but there's a lot of padding in that. First of all, there are a lot of overdrawn scenes shown, which I'm beginning to notice is a trademark of Toho. Things like, when battling the insects underground and the land spill begins, they show a lot of scenes of the ground falling apart. A lot of these scenes could have been trimmed down with absolutely no harm done to story. There's also a large shortage of Rodan action. Most of the action sequences are in the beginning with the insects, and even though the rodans hatch with plenty of running time left, most of that is spent dealing with Shigeru's amnesia as a result of the accident and the powers that be wondering what the "flying objects" are. They finally start giving the flying kaiju some action scenes with a mere twenty minutes of movie left, a good chunk of that is made up of those scenes in need of some trimming. Even though that scene, a dogfight between one of the rodans and a squadron of fighter jets, is a good one, it's in there a little too late and then slows down again until the last minute or so. It just isn't enough to salvage a plot that mostly just leaves you bored beyond belief.

On a technical aspect, Rodan is not pretty to look at. The insects in particular were horribly done. Obviously taken influence more than once from 1954's Them!, these bugs pale in comparison. There are a few scenes where even our titular creature looks a little rough. Honestly, I think this wouldn't have been such a problem if Toho hadn't made the leap to color. Directed by genre-regular Ishiro Honda, it's obvious he was trying to recreate the dark feelings that he was able to accomplish in Gojira, and I think the film in black and white would not only have helped this mood, but it also would have covered up some of the iffy special effects.

Despite the various benchmarks being made, Rodan ultimately failed to impress. Had they increased Rodan's screen time and left it in black and white, I think the result would have been a lot better. Pity too, I had high hopes for this one. 4.5/10
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