When a greedy oil baron sets his sights on drilling in a Louisiana swamp, a monstrous creature is awakened. The baron and his associates are killed in the swamp thicket, spurring an investigation led by Sheriff Kyle Williams. Although the Seminoles are initially suspected of the murders, the swamp creature, known as Man-Thing, is the killer. A gruesome creature made of plants and vines, Man-Thing possesses strange and dangerous powers.
Directed by: Brett Leonard
. Starring: Matthew Le Nevez
, Rachael Taylor
, Jack Thompson
, Rawiri Paratene
, Alex O'Loughlin
, Steve Bastoni
, Robert Mammone
, Patrick Thompson
, William Zappa
, John Batchelor
, Ian Bliss
, Brett Leonard
, Imogen Bailey
. Music by: Roger Mason
The character of Man-Thing is one of those oddball characters that are much more difficult to understand all around. I read the most recent series of "The Infernal Man-Thing" and even then, the story did not play out like most Marvel Comics would. Man-Thing isn't just a deformed green creature of the swamp. The images and thoughts that go on through his mind are sporadic and sometimes painful. Anyone that he meets, if they fear him, they physically burn at his touch. He's also apart of what is called the Nexus of Realities, an inter-dimensional area where space and time coincide with each other. This makes the character extremely complex; perhaps too complex. However, this isn't an excuse for the filmmakers to not exactly give a full-fledged effort. There are parts that help define this movie differently from other comic book adaptations, but its bad components still evenly match it.
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.
Review by breakdownthatfilm-blogspot-com from the Internet Movie Database.