Rodan (1956) [DCA]

Class: Staff
Author: Alexander Smith
Score: (4.5/5)
February 26th, 2007 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

This is one of my favorite films of all time! This film did better than Godzilla (1954) in theaters in America, and it introduced everyone's favorite pterodactyl, Rodan. I have a Classic Media release DVD, and watch it every couple days. I have almost all the film's lines down.

Strange deaths have been occurring in a small mining village. Goro, one of the miners, is supposedly murdered. There is a widespread investigation all over the town to discover the cause of the deaths. Several people are under suspicion. One day, Shigeru and his crew of miners walk into the cave only to find a huge insect called Meganulon. These creatures attack the miners, and a few days later, the Meganulon attacks the village. Shigeru escapes and contacts the police. The police venture into the cave to find the creature, but their machine gun has no effect. There is a cave-in, and Shigeru manages to escape, but he is barely alive. The sight of an egg triggers frightening memories from his experience in the cave, just as Rodan begins to attack jets all over the country. Shigeru remembers that he saw a baby Rodan hatch and devour the Meganulons. The SDF ventures to the erupting Mount Aso, where Rodan attacked a couple, and there they discover Rodan, inside a crack in the mountain. The SDF escapes, and Rodan soars overhead. Shortly thereafter, another Rodan (a female) is discovered. The two denizens of the cretaceous proceed to attack Japan. When they arrive in Tokyo, they are pursued by SDF jets. Tokyo is ravaged, and the Rodans retreat, but only after decimating the city. The SDF prepares a plan. They will utilize super explosive rocket shells to defeat the two Rodans. Will this plan succeed?

The acting and character development is great, some of the best I've seen. Shigeru, played by 24-year old Kenji Sahara (who is known for normally playing villains) is a very good character. His shock at the sight of a hatching monster egg during the flashback is well played, up to the moment where he snaps back to reality in a hospital bed (which is technically the end of the sequence). Shigeru's girlfriend is very over dramatic. She panics often, like anyone in a stereotypical "damsel in distress" role.

The stars of the movie are, of course, the monsters. Rodan looks his best in this movie, a far cry from the silly-looking suits of the 60's. He looked so silly, especially in Destroy All Monsters (1968). The Meganulons, who look like Mothra Larvae with stinging tails and claws, look very menacing. The technique used to portray them, however, is not very convincing. The suitimation itself is very good, with the legendary Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla) portraying Rodan. He manages to make the performance very lifelike, unlike most other monster suit actors. I am a big Rodan fan, personally. There is no campy monster action, unlike that which is seen in future films featuring Rodan. This is deadly serious. Regarding the miniatures, I am very impressed. The planes look like planes, not toys, as in other contemporary movies. The tanks and rocket launchers still look good today. This film's special effects are still very sleek.

Regarding music, from the main titles to the Meganulon theme, I can honestly comment that the score is very chilling here. The Rodan theme is also quite unique, much less repetitive than the one heard in subsequent films. Maestro Ifukube did a very nice job on this one.

This movie is rare, and very enjoyable. I'd recommend this movie to any daikaiju eiga fan. There is only one Region 1 release of this, Classic Media's 2002 release. Despite Classic Media's poor video quality presentation of the movie, I'd definitely recommend getting it.