Dir: Ishiro Honda
Star: Kenji Sawara, Yumi Shirakawa, Akihiko Hirata, Akio Kobori

I was expecting a biopic about the French sculptor here. So imagine my surprise, when it was actually about a pair of giant, pterodactyl-like creatures, that emerge from a mine to wreak havoc on the Pacific [but, inevitably, mostly on Japan]. There is rather more to the story than that, but it's neither of importance, nor particularly interesting. For example, the early thread where worm-like creatures crawl out of the mine to chew up and spit out local members of the population, never goes anywhere, since these are nothig more than food for the giant reptilian bird. And, unlike certain giant monsters I could mention, human weapons do have an effect on them, providing you get enough of them in quantity and quality. Though it helps also to have an erupting volcano to hand, and for one of the creatures suddenly to develop a suicidal death-wish involving lava. Naturally, it takes a while for the Japanese Self-Defense Force to get its shit together, and get round to bombing the beasts back to the Stone Prehistoric Age.

You can certainly see why Rodan failed to take off (hohoho) in the same manner as the big G, and was subsequently relegated to a supporting character in later installments. Because he is - let's be honest - crap. Rodan doesn't actually have any offensive weapons, relying entirely on the sonic boom created by his flight; hell, even Mothra has more than that, and she also has personality, something entirely missing from Rodan's make-up. As usual, the human aspect is all but ignored; it's something to do with mine engineer Shigeru Kawamura (Sawara), who was trapped in the mine and saw Rodan hatch from an egg, before suffering convenient amnesia. Throw in some truly dubious elements - why does Rodan leave a contrail and emit the sound of a jet engine - as well as no real sense of conflict (beyond footage of mediocre models that doesn't get better, despite its excessive re-use) and you have something which feels more like a pale imitation of Godzilla, even though it was actually produced by the same Toho studio.

[October 2015]

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