Updated: Jun 11, 2019
In the original version, the title of the movie is called Radon which is short for Pteranodon. When the movie came to America, the name changed to Rodan because there was a brand of soap called Radon.
The movie's symbolism is similar to Godzilla on the dangers of nuclear energy. As Godzilla represents the nuclear threat from America, Rodan represents the nuclear threat from Soviet Union.
Rodan has appeared in 1 solo movie and 6 Godzilla movies (Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster, Godzilla vs Monster Zero, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II, Godzilla: Final Wars, and in the upcoming movie, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters).
In George Takei's autobiography, Rodan was Takei's first professional acting job and all voice dialogues were provided by himself along with three other actors.
The cable supporting Rodan over Sasebo Bridge snapped and caused the stuntman inside the suit to fall 25 feet into the water. This incident was left in the movie as the scene where Rodan dives into the water and submerges. The cables were reattached for the scene where Rodan flies out of the water, but the cables almost snapped again because the suit was waterlogged and doubled in weight.
The city that was destroyed in the original film was Fukuoka. In the U.S.A. release, the city's name was changed to Sasebo because Americans were more familiar with this city since this is where major U.S. military facilities were stationed.
After mining accident, a swarm of giant insects invade a small mining village. During the investigation of where these bugs originated from, two pterosaurs begin invading Japan.
Rodan is remembered for being Godzilla's rival/ally in the movies. Even in Godzilla: King Of The Monsters Rodan is going to be portrayed as a rival for Godzilla based on how director, Mike Dougherty, gave the monster such high praises for the monster. There is no doubt that Rodan is among one of the top fan favorite monsters in the Godzilla series. While his own movie, Rodan, is considered a classic by many it is not all that memorable.
The story of the movie starts off with miners being found dead in the mines. The first body found was blamed on Goro, a miner that was witnessed to have had an argument with another miner before he died. Shigeru doesn't believe that Goro was responsible, but only because he is engaged with Goro's sister, Kiyo. When the shaft flooded with water, two more miners and a police officer go into the mine to look for Goro when all three of them were attacked and dragged into the water. After three more bodies were found, the mining village is then raided by these giant insects called, Meganulon. This whole first half of the film concentrates on finding out where these insects come from and it is sort of slow. The main star of the film doesn't appear until half way into the movie.
When Rodan does appear in the movie he does look pretty good, but he isn't as terrifying as Godzilla was when he first appeared in his first movie (Gojira). What was cool to see was that there are two Rodans in the movie, a male and a female. You would think that two of them would raise the threat level, but they don't really do much. When the two were first together, it was one trying to save the other from being attacked by the Japanese Self Defense Force. When you see them again, it is at the end of the movie. I felt that the movie missed an opportunity to show just how terrifying it is when two of them are raiding a city and raise the stakes for the main characters. Instead, they are killed off by a volcano that was forced to erupt. The movie tries to imitate a similar emotional ending to Gojira, but it sort of falls flat in that regard. In Gojira, the movie's ending works because there was someone (Dr. Serizawa) that sacrificed his life to not only kill Godzilla, but so nobody else can use him to build another weapon. It was this character's sacrifice that made the ending of that movie so powerful and effective. In Rodan, none of the main characters died, yet the movie's ending plays out the two Rodans dying is tragic showing that not even death could keep their love apart. This may be effective in tragic romance stories like Romeo & Juliet, but for a monster movie this just seems tacky.
As usual with Japanese movies, the practical effects still look pretty good between the details on the miniature buildings and the monsters destroying it all. It really looks like a monster is attacking the city. Yet, there were times where the movie looked washed out or grainy which is a sign really that the movie is not aging well. There are a couple times where I noticed the cables, but it didn't take me out of the movie. Usually, TOHO is very careful about hiding stuff like that, so I think this is just another sign of the movie aging. I wasn't even trying to look for them either. I just happened to notice them while watching this movie. There was one small detail that I didn't notice when watching the movie the first time which was Rodan having a breath attack. However, it isn't really noticeable unless it is in those close up shots and it's faint. Even in the screenshot displayed, I tried to brighten it to show Rodan using the breath attack and even then it doesn't stand out much. During the rest of the attack scene, Rodan is not shown using it. It makes me wonder if there were plans that was scrapped to give Rodan a super power similar to Godzilla. This is just a small piece of detail that doesn't affect the movie's quality. I thought that it was just a little interesting since Rodan did have a breath attack in the 1993 movie, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II. So again, it makes me wonder if this was an original idea that was scrapped and brought back years later.
Rodan is a very average monster movie that you are not missing out on. For the time this movie was released, it was probably above average. With the advancement of computers and computer graphics the movie is showing its age and not in a good way. Overall, it's a campy monster movie from the past that is sort of forgettable.
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Rodan/War Of The Gargantuas: https://amzn.to/2K8ioGo