Man-Thing

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Rating: R

Starring:
Matthew Le Nevez as Kyle Williams
Rachel Taylor as Teri Richards
Jack Thompson as Frederic Schist
Rawiri Paratene as Pete Horn
Patrick Thompson as Jake Schist
Steve Bastoni as Rene LaRoque
Alex O’Lachlan as Eric Fraser
Imogen Bailey as Sarah
Robert Mammone as Mike Ploug
John Batchelor
William Zappa
Ian Bliss
Brett Leonard
James Coyne as Billy James
Andrea Leon as Nurse
Garry Waddell as Cajun Pilot

Special Features:
Trailer Gallery

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
2.0 Dolby Stereo Surround
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 105 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Kyle Williams (Matt Le Nevez) thought taking the new post of Sheriff in the sleepy town of Bywater would be exactly the change of pace he needed. But the peaceful town is not what it seems. While investigating a series of gruesome murders, Kyle discovers that the locals are hiding a frightening secret. Torn between who and what to believe, the only straight answers he receives are from feisty young schoolteacher Teri (Rachel Taylor). Together they embark on a quest to unravel the truth.”

Man-Thing is rated R for violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality.

The Movie:
Man-Thing is the movie that Marvel Comics would like to forget. It was originally intended for theatrical release, then they scrapped that idea in favor of a limited theatrical release. When that idea was dropped, they intended to make this a straight to video film. Then that idea was dropped and it was turned into an original feature for the Sci-Fi Channel. Now, finally, it has appeared on DVD (if you can find it). With the creators obviously not very confident in Man-Thing, you would expect this to be one of the worst movies ever made. While it’s not very good, it’s not that bad either.

Man-Thing is a good looking film. It is appropriately creepy and most of the shots are beautifully set up. While Australia is a poor substitute for Louisiana, they still manage to make it look good. (Being from Texas, I get to go to Louisiana a lot, so I know it doesn’t have rolling hills in the swamps and I can tell when an Aussie actor is faking a southern accent.) The Louisiana swamp is a great setting for this monster B-movie. The cast is also decent. Matthew Le Nevez makes a good hero as Sheriff Kyle Williams and Rachel Taylor is a beautiful love interest as Teri Richards. Jack Thompson (Cliegg Lars aka Vader’s Stepfather from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) even plays the villain Frederic Schist. As for Man-Thing himself, the few shots they show of him look pretty good. They have some good effects when he kills people and he’s an intimidating giant beast (though he doesn’t look much like his comic character).

The real problem with Man-Thing is that it has the potential to be better than a B-Movie in many ways, but it never quite gets there. It tries very hard to be a horror movie at times. There’s blood, gore, people dying in creative ways, and the obligatory gratuitous naked woman. However, it’s never quite scary enough. At other times it attempts to be a classic monster movie, but the story never develops enough for that, either. There is a monster hunter, eerie shots of the Man-Thing creeping through the swamp, and other monster movie trademarks, but not enough. Man-Thing also aspires to be a comic book movie, but it fails there as well. Though I and many other comic fans haven’t read many Man-Thing comics, I know just enough to tell you that it doesn’t resemble the comic book character much. I certainly don’t remember Man-Thing attacking anybody and everybody in gory ways. (However, they do make a point to briefly mention that the creature guards the “nexus of realities”. I guess he’s keeping more Howard the Duck films from coming through.) The script also relies on the tired old “nature vs. the evil oil company” plot. You’d think there could be something better out there. And even with that clich├ęd plot, I still found it hard to follow the relationships between the characters at times.

Man-Thing is a lesson for Marvel Comics in several ways. First of all, it proves they aren’t perfect. With a string of big hits, they were due for a flop to end their winning streak. This movie ends up being their weakest film since Blade and they were probably wise to bury it deeply for the sake of their good reputation. Hopefully now that they’ve had their big flop (besides Hulk), they can continue with a good run of high profile successes. The second lesson is that not every Marvel Comic character should have a movie made out of them. After making movies about Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, and FF, Marvel has been selling the rights to a lot of their B-Grade characters. You’d probably have to consider Man-Thing a C or D-Grade character (and a rip-off of DC’s Swamp Thing). Some of these studios might want to reconsider spending a lot of money on making movies about the characters without some seriously good writers behind them. I think it’s possible to make a good Man-Thing movie, but it needs bigger help in the script department.

The Extras:
Except for the trailer gallery, there are no bonus features on this DVD.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a comic book fan curious about the infamous “Man-Thing”, then I think you’ll find this DVD worth checking it out. If you go in with low enough expectations, it might end up being better than you expect. It’s also interesting to see what happens when Marvel strikes out rather than getting one of their recent series of home runs.

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