The China Syndrome - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The China Syndrome Reviews

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½ January 28, 2018
Throughout the first part of the movie, I thought I was in for a technical, dry, 80's depiction of events in the vein of "Earthquake". The moment the nuclear specialists state how close they were to a disaster of epic proportions, though, the movie took on this importance, relevance, that stayed with me throughout, making me understand Douglas' character's earlier outrage, Lemmon's character's concern, and Fonda's character's pursuit of the truth (and primetime glory).

From that point on it becomes truly absorbing to see the events unfold. The reporters push for the story, the cover-up (when you see the car chase scene, which is great, and the car "accident", you realize how deep it has gone, and wonder how did it get to this?), and when Jack's character slowly takes the gun and points it, wow. A truly believable turn of events, every step of the way.

It is visually interesting as well. There's a scene where a tech in a bio-hazard suit checks a radioactive leak. From the beginning, when he opens the door, to when he gets to the leak, I was glued to the screen. I was thinking, in terms of atmosphere, with the industrial sounds and the visuals of the inside of the nuclear plant, this is pure Metal Gear, pure 24. Love that scene. And the end scene, with the dual screens and the one on the left (the truth) gets cut off and we're left with only the hollow, happily ignorant bliss to the right. Perfect.
January 22, 2018
Strong cast and subject material fail to deliver a quality movie. In spite of some accurate information sprinkled throughout, this major plot devices are as far-fetched as any 3 stooges or Marx Brothers flick. The speeches just seem a bit contrived, leaving a film to which hasn't aged well with the times.
½ January 21, 2018
It's exactly what you would think up if I gave you the writing prompt "nuclear plant with safety issues, reporters want to expose it, company tries to cover it up." I was sentimental about some of the famous faces.
January 20, 2018
I liked it, not loved it. I think it's a bit overrated and the story telling seemed to be a disjointed at times. What I thought was going to be a thriller about trying to stop a meltdown ended up really being about a reporter and a supervisor trying to uncover the truth about safety. And the end of the movie really didn't make a lot of sense and was anti-climactic. Why was the company trying to deliberately SCRAM the reactor and put everyone at risk? I felt like this movie at times couldn't decide what it wanted to be - did it want to be about the suspense of a nuclear reactor about to meltdown? Did it want to be about Michael Douglas tryin to expose the truth? Did it want to be about Jack Lemmon's internal conflict about trying to do the right thing? Did it want to be about Jane Fonda trying to be something more meaningful in her career? I feel like I saw pieces of all these and I just never really got what I thought I was going to get. So, good movie, but definitely not the masterpiece that a say it is. I give it a B-.
½ December 9, 2017
Void of a score, this antinuclear conspiracy thriller boldly uses only ticking-clock tension and a soundtrack of shrieking alarms to intensify a terrifying forewarning of the titular meltdown when plant bureaucrats breach safety for profits and sheer fiction bizarrely becomes a realism when the Three Mile Island accident strikes merely twelve days after the premiere.
½ March 4, 2017
One of the most exciting media dramas, "The China Syndrome" raises questions on both conspiracy against journalism and the dangers of nuclear energy.
January 9, 2017
It's mostly for Michael Douglas' beard and for 70's Fonda that this was enjoyable. A nice little slice of pre-80s post-nuclear drama.
November 29, 2016
It's not just the beige trouser suits and casual sexism that dates The China Syndrome but thankfully the terrific central performances from Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon more than make up for the 1970s kitsch elements. This is a well thought through, taught thriller about a nuclear accident and the uncovering of the story by a television reporter and her crew. There's no melodrama or obvious dumbing down for the audience and this isn't the sort of action thriller where spectacle replaces drama. Rather this is an authentic feeling story that rightly focuses on the characters involved and how they react to the situations that they find themselves in. Featuring a scarily young looking Michael Douglas and the seemingly angels Wilford Brimley, The China Syndrome is rightly a highly regarded movie about corporate greed and responsibility that still resonates today.
½ October 30, 2016
Looking for an intense, older movie with some notable history attached? Then look no further than The China Syndrome.
½ August 15, 2016
Always loved this movie. Kudos to all, especially Fonda and Lemmon. Funny that, even in 2016, female reporters still do these dumb "fluff pieces."
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2016
An effectively tense thriller that must have been even more terrifying when it came out, when fear of nuclear power was greater, and it is very well directed (the car chase scene is nerve-wracking) and has three amazing performances from its leads, especially Jack Lemmon.
½ July 7, 2016
Timing can be everything for a movie. When this movie hit theaters, it garnered mild praise but was not dominating the box office. Twelve days later the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident happened, igniting the fears of nuclear technology and directing people's attention to this movie. It is amazing how acting and dialogue alone can build suspense like this. The story features a female reporter in the 70s struggling to establish herself as a serious journalist and not just a vapid pretty face. While in the field at the local nuclear power plant, she and her cameraman witness alarms going off. The plant staff seemed panicked, but they tell her that it is no big deal. Hungry for a story she is not convinced. She senses there is more to this incident than they are telling her. It devolves into a dangerous situation of conspiracy, politics, and corporate deception. Most of this movie takes place in dull interior rooms with no windows talking about a potential problem within the nuclear reactor. There is no score, just the constant haunting sounds of plant. Even so, it is tense because the stakes are high. The acting carries the movie with superb performances from Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas.
½ June 28, 2016
Really solid thriller with a great cast & performances.
June 13, 2016
Led by outstanding performances from Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome dreadful subject is brought to life by a realistic script that emphasizes the relevance of free press and warns about the nuclear danger.
May 23, 2016
Very cool and tense thriller about the hot button topic of the time (with Three Mile Island) playing center stage as a nuclear power plant starts to have problems and the plant tries to cover it up, much to the chagrin of a plant engineer and a reporter. I really liked the multiple stories the film had going, and did a great job of tying them all together.
April 19, 2016
A nuclear reactor has some errors that are nearly catastrophical but everyone wants to hide it from the public. Everyone accept from a TV-crew leaded by a great Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas and a guy that works there portrayed by Jack Lemmon.

It got a quite slow start, but it turns very good for the later half. It looks pretty good for it's age and it's still fairly relevant 35 years after it's release. Top acting from Lemmon as well and it got a vibe that shifts from thrilling stuff, political stuff and more dramatic stuff. An actor called John Pancake was in it too. What a name.

6.5 out of 10 Fernet posters.
December 8, 2015
Classic 70's drama. Eu sou muito pro-nuclear, mas apesar das inconsistências científicas, esse filme é um suspense de primeira!
December 5, 2015
The China Syndrome is an excellent film. It is about a reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. James Bridges did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. The China Syndrome is a must see.
½ October 17, 2015
This is a pretty well made thriller about a potential Nuclear plant meltdown which 3 majors stars: Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas and Jack Lemmon. The performances are good and it's worth a watch!
April 27, 2015
I think the movie goes a little too far to deliver its message. It's the equivalent of calling The Day After Tomorrow an important film about global warming. I'm not sure if the message is about nuclear power being a dangerous energy source or that people who work at power plants are incompetent at best and evil at worst. The first observation made about the plant is how everyone seems too young and inexperienced. The movie isn't like The Insider. That movie was about a guy who worked in the tobacco industry and wanted to expose some dirty secrets about them. It's okay to take an alarmist stance in that context because if someone watches the movie and walks away thinking cigarette companies are evil that's actually a good thing. Convince them not to smoke. What the movie does is on top of convincing us that we should get rid of nuclear power, it destroys our confidence in the people currently in charge of power plants. I just don't think it's appropriate in a film with such grave concerns. Some might call it fear mongering.

Even without the message it's an entertaining movie. The only performance that really stands out is Jack Lemmon. He does a good job of looking like a conflicted man that you feel sorry for. It's fun watching him freak out while running around pressing buttons like Dr. Frankenstein in his lab. He's also in a thrilling car chase that's probably the films main highlight.

It's a good movie, but it would have been better if it didn't state what side it's on in such a shameless way. It takes the impact out of the message. After just watching the movie for the first time I'm not afraid of power plants, but I would like to play in the control room. It's a good thing I don't own a nuclear power plant.
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