tek's rating: ½

Rodan (not rated)
Badmovies.org; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; TV Tropes; Wikipedia; Wikizilla
streaming sites: Max

Caution: spoilers!

This came out in 1956, but I didn't see it until 2013. (It's part of a box set of DVDs a friend gave me some years ago, which are mostly Godzilla movies. This one isn't, though the monster Rodan would later appear in some Godzilla movies.) Um... I suppose I've long been vaguely aware of Rodan, though when I hear the name, I usually think of a joke from an episode of Pokemon, in which James was talking about his parents owning some paintings by Picasso and Rembrandt, and a statue by "that Japanese monster Rodan" (referring of course to French sculptor Rodin). I always loved that joke. Let's see, what else do I need to tell you before I get into the plot? I watched a dubbed American version, which Wikipedia informs me had numerous changes from the original Japanese version, but I'm sure it's not nearly as drastically altered as Godzilla, King of the Monsters was. Also, the dub may not have been great, but I wouldn't call it bad. So that's a plus. Aaaand... apparently the original version is called "Radon," which is short for "pteranodon," which is basically what the creature is. But in the U.S. it's called "Rodan," which I kind of think is a better name than Radon. But feel free to disagree.

Anyway, the American version starts with some scenes of American naval and air force testing of nuclear weapons, which apparently wasn't in the Japanese version. Eventually the testing will be used to explain the emergence of prehistoric beasts after millions of years of dormancy, but by this point in the kaiju genre, I feel like it's safe to just assume nuclear testing is to blame, then move on and concentrate on enjoying a monster movie without worrying too much about social messages or whatever. We all know H-bombs suck, so why belabor the point, am I right? (Again, feel free to disagree.)

Okay, so um... the movie is narrated by a guy named Shigeru, who works for a coal mining company. I guess there's like an accident in a mine shaft, and a couple of guys named Goro and Yoshi are lost. Later Yoshi's body is is recovered, having been mysteriously killed by some unknown weapon. There's suspicion that Goro killed him, though Shigeru doesn't believe this. He's engaged to Goro's sister, Kiyo, and knows Goro isn't the murderous type. I guess. Anyway, after awhile it's discovered that there are giant insects in the mines, and they've been killing people. The military comes and does their best to kill the insects, though it isn't easy. Finally there's a cave-in, which seems to kill the insects, but Shigeru is lost (after finding Goro's body).

Then there are fighter pilots who spot an unidentified object flying at supersonic speeds. That causes all kinds of damage. And eventually Shigeru is found, but he has amnesia. But eventually he remembers having seen an enormous egg hatch, and the reptilian bird that emerged ate the giant insects, which were tiny by comparison to the bird thing. And um... people start calling the thing "Rodan." Or rather, they call the species Rodan; there are actually two Rodans in the movie. And they both cause lots of death and destruction. And the military does all it can to stop them. And I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. But I will say I liked this movie slightly better than Godzilla. (It's possible I would have liked the original Japanese version of Godzilla better than this, though. Maybe someday I'll find out.)

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