Agents of an oil tycoon vanish while exploring a swamp marked for drilling. The local sheriff investigates and faces a Seminole legend come to life: Man-Thing, a shambling swamp-monster whose touch burns those who feel fear.
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Bywater's native Seminole Indians believe the swamp will be bloodily revenged by its guardian spirit, a 'dark warrior', for its 'rape' by Frederic and son Jake Schist's oil-drilling, sold out by their own late chief Ted Sallis. The rig is illegally protested against by hot-head ecologists, who get blamed for vandalism on the site. New, outsider sheriff Kyle Williams suspects immediately local adolescent Billy James wasn't eaten during love-making there by a cayman but by a mysterious monster, which already made and soon makes new bloody victims in weird, inconsistent ways. Several people add to the danger. Written by
"Man-Thing" is alright if you ignore it's comic book roots.
Kyle Williams, (Matthew Le Nevez) the new sheriff of Bywater, a small town near a Louisiana bayou, is welcomed with a series of missing persons cases. When he gets a call about a protest at Frederic Schist's (Jack Thompson) oil rig, he is informed of Fred's standing in the community and how the citizens feel towards him. As he tries to get settles into the town, he learns from a school teacher, Terri Richards, (Rachael Taylor) about Fred's pillaging of the local Indian tribe. When Kyle begins to experience events that indicate the stories might be true, he and Terri work together to stop the creature's rampage.
The Good News: First of all, I have no knowledge whatsoever about the comic series this is based on, so that makes for an impartial viewing. With that said, one of the film's greatest strengths is the set-design. The swamp here is one of the creepiest locations for a film I've ever seen, with the long branches, moss dripping off everything, and the generally twisted design of the trees make for a some nice suspense-building. Two other important factors come into play with this as well: the fact that most of the time we are inside the swamp is late at night, which means that it's almost impossible to see five feet into the swamp with the mist that rises over the water, and there is an ever-present green-ish light coming from the swamp that makes it seem even more eerie than it has every right to be. I was really impressed with the location filming. It creates the appropriate suspense-filled atmosphere. There is also some great deaths in here which are nice and brutal, just the way it should be. We get an impalement with tree roots, and a chest mangled pretty bloodily. It's a pretty bloody film, with a fair amount of blood-splatter as well. The final assault is a pretty nice series of action set-pieces and other moves to keep it interesting until the end, which is a series of chases and escapes that will keep any action fan quite happy with the film. The title creature is a pretty nice creation, and while I don't know how similar it is to the comic, it's certainly original.
The Bad News: I know there are some out there who say that the creature isn't that close to the comic it's based on, but as I said before, I wouldn't know. It's pretty hard to miss the feedback saying that, so it must be a pretty big change for that to happen. Also, even though the creature is a nice overall concept, it's design is pretty weird. Not exactly one to strike fear in people's hearts. There was a repeated element in the film that really annoyed me: the scenes shot from the creatures POV. It works at first to get the viewer a little on ease, then it just becomes annoying. The use it too much for it to be an effective tactic. The beginning of the film is pretty slow as well, and it takes a while for the film to get going. It's hard to get the film to get to the point and tell the story.
The Final Verdict: If you can ignore the trappings of it's comic book roots, this one isn't that bad. A creepy setting and some great deaths make this one a little more watchable than most of the traditional Sci-Fi films, and fans of their films will find much to like here. Those more loyal to the comic will want to exercise caution with this one.
Rated R: Graphic Language, Graphic Violence, Brief Nudity and scenes of skinned animals
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