Action Movie Fanatix Review: Man-Thing

Man-Thing banner

When Nature Fights Back!

Starring: Matthew Le Nevez, Rachael Taylor, Jack Thompson

Director: Brett Leonard

2005  |  97 Minutes  |  Rated R

“What man could do that?” – Frederic Schist

Man-Thing was never a Marvel character I followed at all or even cared remotely about but when a Man-Thing movie was announced I was intrigued.  It was an unconventional choice for a comic book movie to say the least.

Kyle Williams (Matthew Le Nevez) is the new sheriff in the town of Bywater.  While investigating some mysterious murders he discovers that the citizens of this backwater town have been hiding a secret and the only person he seems to be able to trust is a feisty young school teacher (Rachael Taylor).

In an intelligent move, Lion’s Gate opted to do something different with a comic book property.  With Marvel Comics’ Man-Thing they appropriately opted to make a horror movie of sorts.

Man-Thing, the movie, has a pretty cool supernatural vibe going on complete with spooky natives, swamp people locals and some cool camera tricks and effects to get the feel just right.  Not everything makes perfect sense, however.

Man-Thing from movie

Man-Thing the creature looks a lot like Swamp Thing and for anyone who saw the two movies from the ‘80s, comparisons will come quickly.  But they are in actuality two different characters from two different comic book companies.

Man-Thing comic

The powers that Man-Thing has been endowed with in this movie seem to be a case of whatever fit the idea for each scene rather than actually following the specific powers the comic books had already given the character.  For example, the Man-Thing can dim the lights of buildings with bad guys inside.  He can also shoot concussive air blasts and grow branches out from the ground and up and out of people’s bodies.  His powers don’t always seem to be connected to his swampy beginning.

And just for the record, Wikipedia states that his comic book super powers are as follows: empathic senses, superhuman strength and durability, ability to secrete a powerful corrosive chemical agent and a counter agent, ability to teleport himself or others through ‘the nexus of all realities,’ and speaks the Universal Language.  OK, I don’t really know if he spoke the Universal Language in the movie… maybe his weird screams ARE the Universal Language but the only other power that he exhibited from that list was possibly the superhuman strength and durability.

I will give the producers some credit where it’s due.  They did create a Man-Thing monster that looks very similar to the Marvel Comics counterpart.  There’s a really unfortunate problem with that design though.  The movie actually had some really fantastic make up work and practical effects / costumes.  The problem is that most of the time that these awesome creations are on screen they are ruined by crappy CGI.  Luckily the dead bodies didn’t have to be muddled in CGI because they look almost as cool as pre-CGI Man-Thing did.  Check out more of the work the Make-up Effects Group did for the movie below.

Man-Thing effects 6

And since I’m not a Man-Thing fan I can’t comment on how accurate this type of story would be to an actual Man-Thing comic book.  I’m going to take a stab at it though and say, it’s probably not very close at all.

So, aside from the crappy CGI the big problem with Man-Thing is that it sells itself as a horror movie and then only achieves a cheesy ‘80s horror movie vibe, at best.  Something tells me that this isn’t quite what they were going for.  It works as something other than a comic book movie.  For anyone who is a fan of non-scary monster movies, this is probably worth a watch.  It’s not horrible.  But for Man-Thing comic book fans (if there is such a thing) and probably anyone else, this is an easy skip and never look back.

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