Rodan (1956) Review

rodan

RATING: 3.5/5

[SPOILERS]

Coal mine workers thought they were having trouble when encountering caterpillar-type monsters underground. But their situation rises when they soon discover an even bigger threat.

With Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters coming to theaters soon, I feel I should take a look at Toho’s first kaiju film shot in color. As well as showcasing the first appearance of one of the most famous monsters of all time, Rodan.

While it was not on Gojira’s level of greatness. Like it doesn’t have the serious themes, the grim tone, etc. This movie played more like a classic 50s giant monster film. Which was not bad at all, it was pretty good. The Japanese version that is. I have watched the English version before and it wasn’t that stellar. The original version was better in terms of structure, pacing, and overall telling a story in a good way.

The narrative structure was nicely done. One gets engulfed into the world that the main characters reside in. Which was a small community that seemed like the main business keeping the village afloat was coal mining. A majority of the main characters were introduced in the first 15 minutes. The monster danger was established in those 15 minutes. Giving the audience a sense of awareness and dread of what’s to come. I have to say that the jump scare from the first monster, Meganulon, was an effective jump scare. No ear-bleeding loud music.

I have to say the film’s structure does keep one invested and it delivered good suspense. Especially when it showed little snippets of the main monster star. It was not until the main character of Shigeru saw bird eggs that a memory of what happened before the cave-in occurred. That scene was really good at establishing the introduction of Rodan and to witness that the Meganulon were not the main enemy. But rather they were simply food for Rodan. Another good surprise was that they were not one, but two Rodans.

Pacing in the movie was good. As mentioned, the film does a fine job of building tension and suspense. The surprises and twists worked well.

The setting of the coal mines was a good choice of having that feeling of claustrophobia and tight quarters.

Meganulon was kind of a cool monster, but it pales in comparison to Rodan. The 1956 design of Rodan is my personal favorite. It looked the most threatening out of all. I believed it had something to do with the face. That heavy brow gave Rodan those black and sunken eyes. One could hardly see his pupils. The scenes with Rodan were definite highlights. Simply by flapping the wings or taking off from the ground would cause buildings or bridges to crumble. The sounds of Rodan zipping through the air were cool as well.

The ending was bittersweet. Seeing the two Rodans dying next to the volcano and catching fire was sad. It showed that these monsters weren’t there to cause destruction on humans intentionally, but rather on instinct much like with real animals.

Now the army scenes fighting off against the Rodan was, more or less, not special. Many of them were long and drawn out. The pace was slowed down drastically and abruptly. The only thing worth witnessing was the POV shots of the fighter pilots flying through the air.

The actors/actresses do a good job. But there wasn’t anything too special about them. They play the classic character tropes, though they do give off good performances.

The film had a short runtime of 82 minutes. I wish it was a bit longer, but at the very least there was a complete story from beginning to end.

While being inferior to Gojira, Rodan was a good kaiju movie. It showcased a good narrative structure, nice pacing, and entertaining monster action. A true classic that one giant monster should watch.

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