This B-movie, which airs repeatedly on the Sci-Fi Channel, isn't the world's grestest film. But it has a certain camp appeal. The film is part anti-nuclear screed, part "boy loves dog" film, part "Cujo" and part science fiction movie.
The film involves the Yates family, who live in a bucolic small town near a nuclear reactor. An old man who works as a security guard there adopts a homeless dog. But when the reactor has a meltdown (which is hushed up by the standard baddies who run the plant), the dog is trapped inside the core and irradiated. Assumed dead, "Atomic Dog" escapes the plant to wreak havoc on the town.
"Havoc" is a little over-stating the case, however. At first, the dog seems to menace the Yates family and especially young Josh, whose own dog keeps getting lost. But Josh (stupidly? heroically?) befriends Atomic Dog -- even though Atomic Dog has attacked his own pet -- and feeds the glowing beastie. None of this makes sense. It is as if the writer of the film wasn't sure if he wanted a family film or a version of "Cujo." Instead, a weird admixture exists in the film. For teens or younger children, the film has a slight menacing undercurrent (wholly accidental). But for adults, the film is just goofy. It's also unclear exactly why Atomic Dog is monstrous. The dog seems to glow at night, has glowing eyes, and is somewhat stronger than a normal dog. But other than that, it's not much of a menace.
Soon, the town authorities, pushed by the evil folk at the nuclear plant (eager to cover up the nuclear monster they created), begin to think Atomic Dog is a horrible terror that will "destroy the town." The Yates try to protect Atomic Dog, helped by their vet and Josh's friend Dwayne (the quite good teen actor Scott Olynek). Lots of time-wasting action occurs, as the town hunts the dog down. The action is so slow-paced and interminable that it's difficult to actually sit through the film.
By the end of the film, all's well that ends well. We even get puppies to which the audience is supposed to deliver the requisite "awww!"). There's clearly room for a sequel.
Micah Gardner is serviceable as the film's teenage star, Josh Yates, but not outstanding. Daniel Hugh Kelly tries his hardest as the father, Brook Yates, but his acting skills are so limited and poor that his performance is painful to watch. Isabella Hofmann is given little to do except drive the kids to school, make cookies, and look worried. Scott Olynek is the surprise here -- he actually looks effortless and natural as the best friend.
There are very few special effects in the film, although the editing, cinematography and production values are fairly top-notch. There's a little violence (mostly dog attacks, which are easily spotted even by children as fake), some crowds with torches, and such.
It's a time-waster for adults, but probably might satisfy the middle-school kids.
Review by tevanson from the Internet Movie Database.