Directed by Brett Leonard
Produced by Christopher Petzel, Scott Karol & Gimell Everett
Written by Hans Rodionoff
Director of Photograpy Steve Arnold
Music by Roger Mason
Cast: Matthew Le Nevez, Rachael Taylor, Jack Thompson, Alex O'Lachlan
2005/97 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
There's nothing that Hollywood loves better than a bandwagon, especially when said wagon has been yielding successful films. Over the past few years, we've seen more and more movies based on comic books coming to the screen, and many of them, such as SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN 2, SIN CITY, and BATMAN BEGINS have been box-office champs. So, it's not surprising that filmmaker would begin to mine other comic characters for movies. As the major players have scooped up all of the most popular comic icons, the smaller studios are left to tackle some lesser-known titles, such as Marvel's MAN-THING. The movie based on this older Marvel horror title has just come to DVD.
As MAN-THING opens, new sheriff Kyle Williams (Matthew Le Nevez) arrives in the sleepy, swampy town of Bywater, where he finds two things -- a large oil company run by Frederic Shcist (Jack Thompson) and his son Jake (Patrick Thompson), and a board full of missing persons. Through his deputy, Eric Fraser (Alex O'Lachlan) and a school teacher, Teri (Rachael Taylor), Williams learns that the locals hate Schist and his company because they feel that he cheated the locals out of their land. He also learns that many attribute the spate of swamp disappearances to a creature who guards the area. Not long after Williams' arrival, several bodies are found in the swamp. Schist claims that local radical Rene LaRoque (Steve Bastoni) has murdered the victims, while the locals feel that that nature is simply balancing things. While investigating the crimes, Williams witnesses a large creature lurking in the swamp -- a mindless killer who will destroy anything that gets in its way.
With the onslaught of special effects in TERMINATOR 2, many consider James Cameron to be the first director to master CGI effects. But, following a close second was director Brett Leonard, who made good use of CGI in his 1992 film THE LAWNMOWER MAN. Leonard would show a confidence in using CGI in his subsequent features, HIDEAWAY and VIRTUOSITY. This notion, combined with the fact that Leonard is a competent filmmaker easily explains why he was chosen for the MAN-THING project. But, Leonard brings a mixed-bag to this film. The MAN-THING creature looks great and for a low-budget film, the effects are nearly seamless. The monster doesn't make many appearances in the film (more on that in a moment), but when it does, it looks good. The film has a very clean look, but Leonard relies too heavily on the green-tinted lighting, which, in this post-MATRIX age feels very dated. There is also an over-reliance on rapidly edited segments which separate scenes, which look very similar to those used on the ANGEL TV show.
While Leonard seems to be doing what he can behind the camera, his talents can't overcome MAN-THING's convoluted and overly-dramatic script. The movie has far too much emphasis on the human stories and totally loses sight of the Man-Thing character. In fact, the film is essentially a movie about evil corporations and land rights, with the monster thrown in as an after-thought. Screenwriter Hans Rodionoff deserves credit for incorporating ideas from the comic books, such as character names and the concept of "the nexus of all realities", but the script is greatly lacking in detail, as we learn basically nothing about the Man-Thing, save for the fact that it lives in the swamp and occasionally kills people. The film also contains way too many characters, some of which serve seemingly no purpose. The movie also feels quite redundant at times, and it must have been very hard to edit as it contains shot after shot of people wandering through the swamp.
So, MAN-THING is a tough call. I can recommend the film as a rental to fans of the comic or though who enjoy bayou-bound movies. But, despite the fact that the film is fairly well-made and contains a cool monster, it also shies away from the horror side and is dull at times. It's great to see that filmmakers are willing to look at horror comics for inspiration, but the result should be more impressive than MAN-THING.
MAN-THING oozes onto DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. (I've read reports on-line that the movie was letterboxed at 2.35:1 when it aired on Sci-Fi, but I didn't see that broadcast and can't corroborate that.) The image looks very good, as the movie's clean look has yielded a DVD transfer which is sharp and clear. The colors look good, especially the constant green in the film. There is some mild artifacting to the image, but it's not distracting. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track yields clear dialogue, but the dynamic range is very unbalanced, as the gunshots, explosions, and motorboat sound effects are far louder than the dialogue. Also, the subwoofer effects are very loud, so make sure to have the remote handy. There are no extra features on this DVD. It should be noted that the film is 97 minutes long, not 105 as listed on the DVD box.
No points were allowed since there is no extras.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©