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Arcade in the Sky Blog: Man-Thing

Thursday, August 21, 2008


A few years ago, I was trolling the superhero movie news sites and came across a movie that was getting little attention, Man-Thing. Marvel's answer to Swamp Thing; The movie was produced by Stan Lee and Avi Arid, just like Spider-man and Iron-man. However, this movie was murdered by the test audience and never released in theaters. Finding a copy on DVD is even difficult, but last night there was one in the 3.99 bin at my local Blockbuster. I just had to see this train wreck for myself.

For starters, there is not plot. Rather, the plot is so scooby-doo it's not worth mentioning. An oil rig is built on an indian burial ground and the spirits have risen for some comeuppance. Trees are good, progress is evil, yadda yadda...

If this theme weren't evident enough, they take it to the next level with the ending. The Man-Thing actually takes the oil baron in hand, open a drum of oil, and proceeds to use his tentacles to pump crude into the baron's body until he explodes. Then they blow up an oil rig with dynamite. Seriously. They did that.

Now, I know I was supposed to be thinking "Yay! Stick it to the man! Save the whales! Go Captain Planet!", but y'know the only thing that came to mind was "dammit. Now my gas prices are going to go up..."

Despite the lack of plot, there was a lot for me here. This was essentially a remake of the original Swamp Thing movie from the late 70's. Instead of walking around in broad daylight in a bad rubber suit slapping bad guys, this Man-Thing actually does what a swamp creature SHOULD be doing; namely skulking around at night, blending into his surrounding and dispatching hapless victims with his branch-tentacles. I really like the design of Man-Thing, and I consider it a great realization of puppetry and CG combined.

The tentacles, sadly, are more often then not poorly rendered. The animators apparently did not have the talent or motivation to make the lighting, wetness and movement believable. This combined with banal plot and characters is probably what killed this movie for theaters. As a cheesy horror movie, however, it does work. While I can't recommend this to anyone, I will enjoy watching it a few more times.
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