China Syndrome, The

Reviewed By Rob Gonsalves
Posted 04/04/07 11:42:24

"Good for its time, I guess."
3 stars (Average)

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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