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This exciting picture is packed by thrills, chills, gory killings and brief nudism in charge of Imogen Bailey. It's an unusual mix of monster movie and intrigue but definitely an enjoyable movie. From the producers- Avi Arad and Stan Lee- of Spiderman, Daredevil, X men, Blade and several others. Director Brett Leonard made this campy swamp romp adapted from the Marvel comic books of the same name. Director deliberately use comic-book style to keep us from taking anything too seriously. It's a co-production USA-Australia filmed in Sydney , New South Wales with good cinematography by Steve Arnold. Fans horror will love this movie about a monster part vegetable, part man . In similar style adapted from D.C. Comics were made in 1982 ¨The Swamp Thing¨ by Wes Craven with Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau and Ray Wise in which a chemical installation turns into walking vegetation monster. And its following : ¨Return of Swamp Thing¨(1989) by Jim Wynorski with Heather Lockleaar, Lous Jourdan and Sarah Douglas.
Problems begin with two things: The script and the actors. The screenplay offers lots of typical horror conventions: Throwaway monster victims, cheap pop scares, greedy and unrealistic bad guys, wise Indians who know about the monster, and so on. If you know the genre, you're probably familiar with this set-up by now, and it can be very tiring. The actors are mostly weak (Save for lead actor Matthew Le Nevez who wasn't bad), and those "southern" accents sure sound Australian if you ask me!
"Man Thing" is flawed and offers a familiar set-up, but if you can overlook that you'll be treated to a gory, creepy monster movie. Better than most made-for-TV horror films I've seen, and I've seen a lot.
New sheriff in the town, Kyle Williams, and sexy third grade school teacher, Teri, embark on a quest to put an end to the death and destruction.
Brett Leonard's adaptation of the Marvel comic books is an enjoyable and schlocky monster flick that never gets ideas above its station and is savvy enough to give its core audience exactly what they want; we get moderate gore, a smattering of nudity, a pretty decent monster and a plot that doesn't exactly tax the old grey matter.
The swamp locations are a sufficiently creepy setting for the tale. Swimming in mist and bathed in a spooky green glow, they allow Leonard to use shadows and light for maximum effect - at times concealing the horror and at others, revealing it in its full gory glory.
The effects both the gore and the creature are also pretty impressive. When Man-Thing gets busy on his victims, he doesn't hold back and we get a range of gruesome body parts splashed across the screen during its 105 minute running time.
In fact, the only thing that really lets this film down is its pacing. The film is too long (by about 20 minutes) and too much time is spent with characters either chatting or wandering aimlessly through the swamp. If there had been a little less talk and a little more action, I'd have rated it higher.
Anyway, after watching "Man-Thing" last night I'd say that it was a decent enough little monster movie, but the only relation to the comic book series was the title. Very little of what I saw in the film had much resemblance to the old comic story lines at all. In the comic series Man-Thing's "secret identity" was Ted Sallis, a scientist whose experiments in the middle of the Everglades swamp lands went horribly awry and turned him into a hybrid man/plant creature with empathic powers.
The Man-Thing's name is still Ted Sallis in the film, but he wasn't a scientist in this version; in fact we never even SEE Ted because he was apparently killed off and buried in the swamp by some evil oil-corporation lackeys before the movie even starts... by the time we join the action, people have been disappearing left and right in the swamps surrounding the Schist Petroleum drill station, and a new sheriff arrives in the sleepy town of Bywater determined to get to the bottom of all the missing persons cases. Of course, he gets more than he bargained for when he starts traipsing through the swamps, avoiding homicidal rednecks and crooked oil-platform workers, and finally finds himself in "The Dark Water," a segment deep in the swamp that's held sacred by the local American Indian population. Seems ole Ted was a big wiggie in the Indian tribe that was fighting to keep the corporate A-holes from drilling for oil in the "Dark Water." Enter the Man-Thing, who in this version is apparently some sort of Native American Spirit of Vengeance, protecting his sacred swamplands by tearing any and all intruders limb from limb. I must admit that the Man-Thing monster looked pretty cool (although since this is a "B" movie, you don't really get a good look at him till the last twenty minutes or so of the film) ,though he really looked nothing like he did in the comic books, and tho I was waiting for someone who knew FEAR to "BURN at the Man-Thing's touch", he didn't seem to have that power in this version either... he does seem to have the powers to control trees and vines that he never did in the comic books, though.
So in the end, about the only ties to the comic book series were the title, and the fact that a couple of the characters in the movie were named after people who worked on the comic back in the day -- one guy was named Steve Gerber, (who of course wrote Man-Thing in the 70s), and there were also characters named after artists Mike Ploog and Val Mayerik, - I thought that was a nice little tip of the hat to the comic creators, as well as a nice in-joke that only old comic geeks like me would notice. :)So if you go into this flick expecting it to be just like the comic series, you're going to be disappointed. However, as a stand-alone swamp-monster action/horror flick, I'd say MAN-THING delivers the low budget goods, with nice atmosphere, some decent gore, and some cool special effects. I have now forgiven director Brett Leonard for his god-awful "Hideaway" and "Virtuosity" films.
As the plot started to unfold, it became increasingly clear Man-thing was not going to be a big part of this movie. Instead, the script chose to focus on a sleazy oil tycoon, a tree hugging hottie, and a green behind the ears sheriff. There was also a sub-plot involving alleged stolen proceeds from the sale of sacred Indian land.
If you are looking for a lot of cool shots of the monster, you will be disappointed. Aside from the occasional random killing, Man-thing isn't really seen until the film's finale. There also seems to be no rhyme or reason to Man-thing's murderous rampage. In several scenes he will only kill one of the parties while inexplicably letting everyone else get away. There is also a very out of place scene where an Indian allows himself to be killed for no apparent reason.
The acting in this film is on par with most B movies in the genre. I occasionally noticed some Australian sneaking into the actors supposed thick southern accents.
Overall I gave the movie a 6. It is entertaining provided you are willing to overlook the many plot holes. One final question, why doesn't anyone ever go into the swamp during the day?
Initially it was intended for the movie to be filmed in Louisiana, the same setting as the comics, but production shifted to Australia due to budgetary reasons, and the cast was filled with local actors.
This is perhaps the main reason why Marvel had second thoughts about launching Man-Thing into cinemas: the lack of star power. Even low budget movies that are made for the direct-to-video or cable markets have at least a couple of familiar character actors or B list names amongst their casts, but the only recognisable face in Man-Thing is Aussie glamour model and lads mag favourite Imogen Bailey. She has a minor role, and provides the movie with it's skin quota by going topless in the first four minutes.
The most surprising and best thing about the film is that it avoids the approach previously taken by the two movies and TV series based on DC Comics' rival creature Swamp Thing, and doesn't portray it's title character as a monstrous but kindhearted do-gooder battling against bad guys. Instead, this film is an outright horror film, which boasts a fair amount of gore and some pretty gruesome deaths.
The story concerns a new sheriff arriving in a small town on the edge of the bayou, and immediately finding himself caught in the middle of a dispute between an oil company that's draining the swamp on one side, and environmental protesters (including the local Native American population) on the other. But he's more concerned about the large number of people going missing in the area, including the previous sheriff, especially when some of them start floating to the surface as extremely messed-up corpses.
It's not the most original plot in the world, and based on the brief summary I've just given, you can probably guess how it all turns out. There's also no prizes for the characterisations on display: the Native Americans are portrayed as noble and wise, most of the white locals are violent and racist rednecks, and the oil drilling villains are irredeemably evil (in one terribly misjudged scene, the two main bad guys discuss killing someone, then laugh for several seconds just to prove how evil they are).
Despite such unoriginality, it's a shame that Man-Thing got dumped straight to cable, for despite it's meagre budget, this is a film that would not have looked embarrassed on the big screen. The visuals are amazing. The bayou scenes are wonderfully lit in lush shades of green, and the swamp looks beautiful, fascinating, eerie and forbidding, often all at the same time. I'm assuming that the majority of filming took place on location, but even those scenes that logic dictates must have been shot on a set (such as the film's explosive climax at an oil drilling station) look just as real. It's impossible to tell the difference between the sets and the actual swamp.
Regarding the title character, the movie ignores his (it's?) origin as portrayed in the comics. But considering that Man-Thing's origin involved Marvel Comics mainstays such as the world-conquering covert organisation A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics, if you're wondering) and the secret serum that created the superheroic Captain America, it's a wise move. Trying to introduce such concepts into a stand-alone film that commerically must appeal to non-comic readers would have been too time-consuming and confusing. Instead, the Man-Thing is just vaguely referred to as being 'the guardian spirit' of the swamp, from Native American folklore.
That said, a handful of references to the original stories are littered throughout the film for fans to spot: Ted Sallis and the Nexus of Realities are both mentioned, plus a couple of supporting characters are named after writers and artists who worked on the comic book back in it's 70s heyday.
Actual appearances by the title character are kept to a minimum, but instead of making the viewer feel short-changed, it just means that the Man-Thing's scenes have all the more impact when they occur. I mentioned earlier that this movie looks amazing, and that extends to the Man-Thing itself, a wonderful special effects creation that combines a man-in-a-costume with overladen CGI. Despite the low budget, it's one of the most impressive monsters I've even seen on screen, and possesses a subtle Lovecraftian quality. Full marks to all involved.
In conclusion, I rate Man-Thing as one of my favourite Marvel movie adaptations, second only to the under-rated Daredevil (2003).
I rented about six or seven other movies that night, and when I got back to my dorm room, I immediately looked them up on IMDb. I must say, I was a little disappointed to see that "Man-Thing" was only given an average rating of 4.0 out of 10.0. Thinking that I might just have blown five dollars, I put the movie on my shelf and forgot about it.
A few nights later, I was having trouble sleeping, and decided to throw the movie in. The opening scene was like that out of any typical horror film, but after the first few minutes, I was hooked. The plot was well thought out, the characters were both interesting and relatable, and it kept showing you just enough of the monster to keep you watching. In fact, you don't see very much of it until the last fifteen minutes of the movie.
I'm not saying that "Man-Thing" was the best movie I've ever seen, but for putting a movie in at 3:30am, I wasn't tempted to go to sleep once. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't check the rating on here before I decided to rent/buy this DVD. I got lucky...which is more than I can say for a lot of the characters in this movie. "Man-Thing" was definitely enough of a scare to keep me away from swamps for a while.
This movie is a great addition to my collection. But unless you find a great deal like I did, I would rent this movie first...just to make sure you like it.
If you like comic movies or monster flicks, then Man-Thing may be for you.
There are only two things I really disagree with in terms of that review - only 5 stars seems a mite stingy, in my opinion. This movie isn't going for the Oscars - hell, it ain't going for a cinema release either! - but it's a great little example of the low-budget monster movie, showing that even within tighter finances, you can make an effective popcorn monster feature. My own mark sets this in the context of the genre - in its field, this works well, and deserves a little more credit.
My only other quibble is the negative reviews of the acting. Again, nobody's gone all 'Method' for the purposes of this feature, but the main lead is competently brooding in a sort of pretty boy nice hairdo way. The love interest is less entertaining but still hits okay, phoning in a typical feisty/spiritual/nurturing but still tough performance. However, most fun is to be had from the furniture chewing local colour - never knowing when they might act again, the surrounding cast tear into their caricatured roles, and quite clearly have a good laugh in the process.
So, despite the extremely dodgy title ("Man-Thing" - really??), take it for what it is - a monster movie on a tight budget - and you may actually be surprised.
This movie was originally intended either for a theatrical or direct-to-video release. However, since it came out on TV, all the nudity and a lot of the cursing were edited out. This was unfortunate, since nudity might have been the only thing worth seeing in this movie. The opening scene (in which Man-Thing kills a guy having sex with his naked girlfriend) is so heavily edited that you don't even know what happened to the guy.
The film introduces over half a dozen supporting characters, all of which are completely useless, in terms of storytelling, AND within the universe of the movie. The movie portrays Lousianians as a bunch of stereotypical drunken, stupid, hicks. Even if there might be people who live up to that stereotype, it was annoying that pretty much EVERYONE was like that. Particularly annoying was the extent of some characters' drug addiction. A security guard is seen drinking on the job, and then putting cigarettes in his mouth even as Man-Thing comes to kill him. The characters who aren't hicks are either cowardly or stupid. Almost none of these characters served any storytelling purpose before being unceremoniously killed off, yet the movie introduces so many of them (and mentions several other people at different times) that it got hard to keep track of everyone.
Plot? What plot? Basically 80% (if not more) of this movie could have been cut, with no loss to the story. An example of such a scene is when a hick villain leaves his brother to take a dump alone in the swamp. A perfect time to kill him off, right? But no, we hear the man fart, see him take a dump, fall in the mud, and then walk back to his brother complaining. What's the point? The few parts that did seem to be relevant to the story were muddled and confusing.
The love story was completely forced, and made no sense. The sheriff and this blonde woman meet each other only a couple times, and she mostly just hates him. Then, with no explanation, they just started kissing.
This movie really offers you nothing. There's no drama, because the characters are just a bunch of useless cardboard cutouts, and they're handled so ineptly that you can't even determine some of their motivations. There's no horror, because the monster barely shows up, and you always see it coming. There's no story, because nothing happens, and what little happens is poorly handled and confusing. This movie elicited no emotion from me, and I watched the whole thing in a bored neutral state. The only reason I'm not giving it a 1/10 rating is because I've seen worse, and the movie didn't offend me so much as bore me.
Everything is stock here, everything. Stock opening with the horny teens having sex in the swamp and one of them getting killed (lots of blood, to be sure, but not a single f*** given to suspense); stock villain with his 'you Yankee Sheriff don't understand get outta my way' twang; stock lead who barely makes a different facial expression except constipated consternation; stock friend deputy who we know may not last long; stock backwoods "good ol' boy" yokels where the closest thing to a joke involves taking a s*** in the swamp at night (and then, ::GASP:: one of them falls in to what looks like other s***); laughably stock Indian guide who patiently exclaims over a montage about how the "Man Thing" came to be due to corporate man's interference with oil rigs and who knows what; and stock love interest who really becomes a love interest because it's about that time for the hero man to kiss the hero girl and for them to almost have sex at an importune time.
Did I mention this movie is quite poor, because it is. And I think that it could have had potential as a) if it embraced it's dumbass B-movie roots and went for broader, or at least were more sincere in some other way, like with a script that went for crazier ideas or stakes, or b) if, I assume, they stuck closer to what Man-Thing actually is in the comics (I'd assume from what I've read from others reactions, I haven't yet read it though it comes from Steve Gerber who created Howard the Duck, that it's not close at all). Or maybe a stronger director with a better grasp on horror or comedy or horror-comedy. The best that Brett Leonard is able to muster for anything 'creative' or out of the box comes in super-fastly-whiplash-style editing to transition from, uh, one scene to another whenever it's time to get EDGY in that way that is terribly dated a decade on (though it was likely dated in 2005).
The acting is equally stock as the actors, though as one thing to give the movie credit the actor playing the bat-s*** photographer who keeps popping up in the 'Dark Water' of the swamp was fairly entertaining. But aside from that no one is memorable, certainly no one who can inject some madness or life into the thing. It's trying to play it too straight and be too serious-minded, but it the director and crew don't have the skills (or budget) to give anything close to some actual terror or properly mounting suspense. It's all a lot of people wandering in dark swamps and then BOOM then comes the CGI 'Man-Thing'. Indeed the best thing about the movie is the title, which I'm sure at the time Marvel patted itself on the back and handed out giant cigars for the whole staff for the fact that they got a comic called Man-Thing.
And it's not like I went into this wanting to hate it, at least not to this point (I suspected, given it was never released to theaters, to lower my expectations, but not to the point of bottom of the barrel). I want more raw, hard-R rated flicks from the likes of Marvel - the first two Blades and Punisher: War Zone embraced their B-movie roots and had good-to-decent directors behind them - but there needs to be a strong vision or something new to the table. Practically everything in Man-Thing, from the Indian environmental "messages" that feel somewhat coopted from *Swamp Thing* (and I'm sure with the comic that was intentional) to the small-town folk who are given the blandest, most generic 'Southern-good-ol'-f***-yeah' dialog, is telegraphed, rote, like things picked up off the dirty, un-vacuumed-for-15-years floor of a hack screen writing pig-pen floor. Even when we see the Man-Thing itself it feels disappointing, with the only thrill coming when it does something especially gory but that too isn't unexpected.
Only for the most die-hard horror-gore-comic-book fans. Or if you want to get that perspective I mentioned earlier. Or if you like a villain with the last name "Schist". Get it? It sounded like it's called s***!
The story follows newly appointed Sheriff, Kyle Williams (Matthew Le Nevez) on an investigation to why a local town has numerous missing person cases. All of which, these cases take place around a dark swamp. It's in the dark swamp, that Man-Thing lives along with an oil drilling company. The oil company is owned by Frederic Schist (Jack Thompson), a man who firmly believes that he has every right to drill. Naturally to his frustration, he can't drill without having people protest, lead by Teri Richards (Rachael Taylor – the British girl from Transformers (2007)). These particular plot lines aren't original but not bad either. An they would work, if the characters were engaging enough, but it's not. That's a serious problem. The characters just don't make the story engaging. Most of this issue is due to lack of exposition in exchange for Brett Leonard directing the movie like a horror film. Even so with Man-Thing's name as the title, he's shockingly not the main focus, which is disappointing.
There are scenes that talk about Ted Sallis (who later became Man-Thing in the comics), but here, its assumed every viewer would know this - which isn't a good idea. The Nexus of Reality is also mentioned, but its significance is wasted as well. These are points in the film that could've been used to help flesh out Man-Thing as a character. Instead, Man-Thing's direction is treated more like a horror villain, which is actually deviant from that of almost every other famous comic book character. This, although nothing new, at least gives the movie a different spin and its not bad. The problem again, goes back to Man- Thing not being development enough as a character. It's appreciated that the comic book names are still brought to light because honestly, with it only having a release on the Sci-fi channel, I wasn't even expecting the story to acknowledge that; but they did surprisingly.
Subplots of course are no stranger to mediocre writing either. The issue of protecting the land that the oil tycoon is stationed on, is dropped quickly right from the moment it's introduced. The relationship between Kyle and Teri also felt too cliché and forced. Just having one thing in common with one another doesn't mean that they're a viable candidate to immediately start considering more than just someone you associate with. The other subplot is about this man named Rene LaRoque (Steve Bastoni) who lives in the swamp, but the audience never gets a chance to understand what his motivation is. All he does is walk around the swamp with hooded trenchcoat warning people to leave or they will die. Why doesn't he leave? Isn't he in danger? If not, how come? These questions aren't answered either, and it doesn't help make this movie scary to begin with.
However, here's what helps the movie at least somewhat entertain past its poor writing. The editing was OK. It was quick at times during the transition scenes but it wasn't unwatchable. The production design to the swamp was competently well made and realistic looking for such a tiny budget. The cinematography was also decent looking because of how well it was able to make the small set of the swamp look extremely large. For horror violence, there are number of good kills and the practical effects of the gore look convincing as well. The Man-Thing creature itself looks awesome in his first form on screen and the special effects used to animate him look integrated evenly. The sound department is another good element. The swamp sounds of insects and creaking wood are nice. Accompanying that effectively is Roger Mason's score. With over an hour-long worth of score material, Mason has a main theme for Man-Thing and tunes for soft moments. These themes incorporate heavy strings and blaring horns that sound close to that of something a famous composer would make. It isn't a complex horror score, but it does work. Overall though, it's another average Marvel film that deserved more credible responsibility.
It has impressive music, good-looking production value, appropriate horror and Man-Thing himself looks great, but that's it. The mediocre writing and dry performances fail to enforce its presence with a legitimate story.
I thought the creature design, on the other hand was very good and true to form for a screen adaptation. If you're a fan of the comic, you probably won't like this much, but if you're just looking for a monster movie and don't mind waiting around for a good look at the beastie than this movie should suit you fine.
Remember, I produce shorts because I have a short attention span, so the pace may not seem so slow to you.
Oh, and having been to FL "swamps", they did build a rather convincing recreation.
Yet, a few things stand out, mainly the scenery and the monster itself. The swamp was captured on film in a very ambiguous way, it that it is both realistic and somewhat nightmarish and disturbing. We owe that to the excellent cinematography, responsible for delivering an uncanny goldish light and the impressive shots of oozing green vegetation.
Now, the monster. Apparently, it was based on some Marvel creature I have never heard of. Either way, for a B movie, it was a very competent display of half man, half plant beast, something that could have easily become ridiculous, especially since I doubt the FX team had a large budget to work with. Still, I believe we get to see a bit too much of the Man Thing, the more footage there is on the creature the less impact it usually manages to create on the viewer.
Another thing that surprised me about this flick were the deaths. They are gruesome and convincing, with roots and barks impaling people throughout the movie. Not extremely gory but still very graphic in terms of sheer violence.
What kills this movie is the usual...a terrible cast, abhorred acting and a plot that is too shallow to hold. Everything is highly predictable and we all know who will die and who will make it. All that is part of the genre's conventions, and since the Man-thing aims to be a monster flick, and clearly is mostly concerned with the most dedicated of fans, I can say it achieved all of its goals.
I was wrong.
At least that had enough -happening- to put it in the theaters. Man-Thing didn't even have that. It was supposed to be in the theaters, but even they knew it was so bad that if someone had to pay to see that, they'd write in and demand their money back.
This movie started out very very slow. But I thought that I'd give it a chance. Lots of good movies have a slow beginning. And so I kept watching. And watching. And watching. And nothing happened. At all. I was waiting for there to be some point where it became an interesting movie, but that point never happened. It was the same slow boring story from the very beginning to the very end. It was only half way through and I was already checking my watch, thinking this has to be almost over.
Th end was lame. You explode one drill and the Man-Thing is calmed? He's happy now? I don't think so. This made him look like a bad guy completely. He's not. Well, not exactly. But they didn't even bother with any of that in the movie. He was just a cranky tree that didn't like people drilling in his swamp.
You can't call it horror, because it wasn't scary in the least. You saw through the Man-Thing's eyes in choppy spliced-up little slide shows of the-gods-know-what because you can't even focus on any of them. It's not scary, it's annoying. And they don't explain -why- he sees in fast motion or whatever that is.
And then there is the gratuitous relationship. Hey, I have nothing against romance in action movies, but is it too much to ask that they get to know each other a -bit- before they start to make out and all that? He tosses her over his shoulder and what, she's smitten? Give me a break. Her character was completely pointless. Oh, and "Hey we just saw this big huge explosion, two people die and the Man-Thing implode and we're standing in the middle of a creepy dark swamp in the middle of the night, let's kiss." Um, no.
And then let's talk about the Man-Thing himself. Like the Hulk, you have to suffer through 3/4 of a boring movie to even -see- the title character and in this case, when you do, he looks TERRIBLE! What were those silly things coming from his back? They weren't vines, they looked more like bloated snakes. Yuck! He was just a head and glowing red eyes and those yucky things. Totally disappointing.
I saw it on SciFi, so I can't say I wasted my money. If I had seen it in the theaters, I'd be mad. Very mad. Needless to say, I won't be picking up the DVD.
I and a few friends tried to watch it all the way through. Tee left after 30 minutes. Dan left after an hour. Out of give only one of us lasted the full two hours of trash. The camera work is beyond pitiful. The budget obviously did not include extras, site locations, or something that would have passed as a plot. Again Hollywood takes a D-Character and tries to make a major motion picture. As a 25 year comic book collector, I can count on one hand how many of my friends even knew who Man-Thing even is. This movie trashed the entire premise of the Man-Thing story.
For the record, I am surprised that they even released this crap at all.