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Overall Rating

Worth A Look34.78%
Average: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.35%

1 review, 17 user ratings

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China Syndrome, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Good for its time, I guess."
3 stars

This one scared the hell out of a lot of people when it came out, especially when Three Mile Island happened twelve days after the movie was released, making the filmmakers look like prophets.

Seen today, though (have you rented it lately? know anyone who has?), it's actually rather dull. The movie's point that it may not be such a nifty idea for a power source as potentially dangerous as nuclear energy to be at the whim of human and mechanical error remains valid, but cinematically this is pure TV-movie. (Man, can you imagine what George Romero or Oliver Stone would've done with this premise?)

The seriousness of the endeavor weighs everyone down, from Jack Lemmon as the increasingly agitated engineer at an iffy nuclear power plant, to Jane Fonda as the TV reporter struggling to get the real story on the plant, to Michael Douglas as Fonda's sarcastic cameraman. (Bearded and scrappy, Douglas is fun for a while until he, too, realizes how Serious the situation is; perhaps not coincidentally, he also produced the movie.)

It's the kind of message movie that has no music or sound under the end credits, so that the audience can go out buzzing about all the Seriousness. File this one under "Hasn't Aged Well."

Today it might be remade with Kevin Spacey in the Lemmon role, Julia Roberts in for Jane, and somebody like Edward Burns in Douglas' shoes.

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originally posted: 04/04/07 11:42:24
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User Comments

8/07/20 Sebastian A well-made combination of paranoid thriller and potential "disaster" film. One of the best 4 stars
2/05/16 Anne Excellent. 5 stars
7/28/13 Jeff Wilder Dated. But still entertaining. 4 stars
9/24/10 Flathead King Great film whose warning on the dangers of nuclear power may still be relevant today. 5 stars
9/27/08 Gloria Dornin scary no matter how many times I watch it, tense 5 stars
1/03/08 Judee Brooks Also about bureaucratic cover ups and our complicated dependence upon the free press. 5 stars
4/04/07 David Pollastrini scared the hell outr of me! 4 stars
3/02/07 action movie fan tense thriller with many interesting characters 5 stars
12/18/04 Phil M. Aficionado Ending was a little too Hollywood-contrived for my taste; otherwise solid and compelling 4 stars
3/22/04 john unfortunately it already turned out to be a prophetic film - a great thriller too 5 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby Dynamite entertainment, but it feels a bit too fishy. 4 stars
1/10/03 Matt Thiel One of the greatest films ever made. 5 stars
7/08/02 Henry Ginsberg that dumbass lemon again HES GAY 1 stars
6/25/02 R.W. Welch Better than average catastrophe/conspiracy flick with accomplshed cast. 4 stars
5/23/02 Carrie Kohl Jane Fonda's last good role (odds were 9 to 5 against there being any more). 4 stars
4/22/02 Charles Tatum Made back when Jane Fonda could do no wrong- onscreen, that is. 4 stars
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  16-Mar-1979 (PG)
  DVD: 26-Oct-2004



Directed by
  James Bridges

Written by
  Mike Gray
  T.S. Cook
  James Bridges

  Jane Fonda
  Michael Douglas
  Jack Lemmon
  Wilford Brimley
  Peter Donat
  Scott Brady

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