Flashback to about a year ago- Artisan went bye bye as Lions Gate acquired the home video giant. Their catalog was over loaded with upcoming releases and two similar movies stuck out as favorites among comic book fans- Marvel’s The Punisher and Man-Thing. Both movies had the potential to be great and to most The Punisher was a big failure. I begged Lions Gate to screen Man-Thing for me; I was just as excited as any of you were- only to be denied over and over again. Not only was I denied, but there was NO information of the film. The red blinking light started flashing and the radar went off- bad news, it could only be bad news…
Here we are what feels like years later and Lions Gate has finally given a release date for Brett Leonard’s comic book adaptation of Man-Thing- April 30th on the Sci-Fi Channel of all places! That radar went into overdrive and the red light almost burst- this movie is going to SUCK. So now that you know my expectations, let’s hit this sucker up.
Based on the cult comic book series that was first published in 1971, the Man-Thing is a vengeful creature born from the evil and injustices perpetrated against both man and nature. In a town where oil rigs are taking over the swamp, people who vanished months ago begin to turn up in the swamp. Something isn’t right with the bodies and the town slowly speaks out to a legend of the Man-Thing, who won’t stop until everyone is dead.
I’m not a fan of the comic, nor have I ever read it, but that doesn’t matter. The Man-Thing is played off like a beast, the evil of the swamp. He never is given emotion and is never portrayed as a good guy for a second. He kills the bad people in the swamp for vengeance, and yet he’s the bad guy too? So the town sheriff has two loads on his hands and we don’t care about anybody. The problem is that we never empathize with Man-Thing, thus creating a creature of only terrible FX work and no heart like in let’s say Spiderman, where even Harry Osborn has a good side to him. The movie is quite hilarious to watch because you can feel their feeble attempt to put emotion into the film only it falls miles short. Brett Leonard spends nearly 50 minutes building the myth of Man-Thing while attempting to give his characters depth- only we long to push the fast forward button- will the action ever start!!!
On the plus we do get some great images of the gruesome aftermath of Man-Thing. Decomposing bodies with branches coming out of their mouths, half their bodies torn apart and giant holes in stumps of what used to be full bodies. The scene where people are killed are pretty slick and the kills are enough to satisfy someone flipping back and forth between Man-Thing and the NBA Playoffs. Too bad the film looked horrid.
Skipping out talking about the terrible acting, the movie doesn’t even work visually as the DP work is horrendous. Some of the swamp shots (where they shot the KKK scene in Bad Boys II) had potential to be disturbing and creepy, only they came off like the jungle cruise at Disneyland. They even have a scene where all of a sudden the swamp in pitch black and our two ‘heroes’ are running for their lives from Man-Thing.
Oh and I can’t forget the end, sorry but I have to spoil this; the unstoppable beast who can’t rest until hi revenge is ensued is destroyed by a big explosion. Yeah, he catches fire, screams and then the swamp eats him up ala Jason Goes to Hell. I guess when you light Man-Thing on fire the swamp decides it’s time for Man-Thing to go back to where he came from… sigh.
Someone should have shown Brett Leonard King Kong before he shot this terrible adaptation. With better cinematography, better characters and a little more depth to Man-Thing this movie could have been redeemable and maybe even fun. But right now it’s just a B-movie that works purely for the Sci-Fi crowd- if that was their goal they succeeded, but I doubt that very much.