China Syndrome, The [Blu-ray]
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Nominated for four Academy Awards® including Best Actor and Actress (Jack Lemmon, Best Actor; Jane Fonda, Best Actress–1979), THE CHINA SYNDROME stars Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas in the "superbly suspenseful, expertly crafted, entirely riveting" (Richard Schickel, Time) white-knuckle thriller that famously predicted Three Mile Island meltdown, a nuclear disaster that occurred just 12 days after the film's theatrical release. It started as just another assignment. Reporter Kimberly Wells (Jand Fonda) and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) were covering the daily routine at a Los Angeles power plant when the unthinkable occurred – a nuclear accident that could have wiped out Southern California. And Richard caught it all on tape. When their TV station refuses to air the footage, Wells and Adams recruit plant supervisor Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon) to expose the terrifying truth: the facility is a ticking time bomb. But with millions of dollars at stake, company officials cannot let the story break. When the trio attempts to broadcast live from the plant's control room, the utility company does everything in its power to silence Godell permanently, as the world watches.
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At the time "The China Syndrome," was released in 1979, the questions it posed were considered unimaginable. Then, on March 28, 1979 - twelve days after the film's release - disaster struck the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. Since then, there have been at least 16 major accidents, some with ongoing catastrophic after-effects, at nuclear plants throughout the world. Those "unimaginable" questions posed by "The China Syndrome" have now unfortunately become a far-too-frequent reality...
As the story of "The China Syndrome" opens, a minor earthquake rattles the area near a fictional California nuclear power plant. A reporter and her crew from a local TV station just happen to be at the plant preparing a story on energy production. They experience the tremor firsthand, and immediately become witnesses to the actions and reactions of one of the plant's supervisors and his crew of technicians as they attempt to determine what, if any, damage has occurred, and what must be done to contain it.
"The China Syndrome" is imbued with uniformly superb performances from a strong ensemble cast. Jack Lemmon is magnificent in his Academy Award-nominated role as the intense, dedicated plant supervisor Jack Godell. I really enjoyed Jane Fonda in her Academy Award-nominated part as the naïve but devoted news reporter Kimberly Wells. For Michael Douglas, "The China Syndrome" was one of his first major movie roles, and he displays many of the same superb acting attributes that have made him one of the best and most popular film actors of the last thirty years.
"The China Syndrome" has been accused by its harshest critics of being a blatant piece of anti-nuclear political propaganda. I disagree with this assessment. "The China Syndrome" always manages to tell its story in a reasonably balanced manner. Some of the corporate officials are stereotyped as greedy, win-at-all-costs types, but there seems to be no escaping that cliché in a film industry that's notorious for its liberal bias. Overall, though, "The China Syndrome" brings both credit and justifiable criticism to all parties involved - the media, the nuclear power industry, and corporate America in general.
"The China Syndrome" is an excellent film in every way; highly recommended.