Man-Thing – Australia, USA, 2005 – reviews

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Man-Thing is a 2005 American-Australian horror telefilm, directed by Brett Leonard and featuring the Marvel Comics creature created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. The film had a budget rumoured to be $30 million.

The screenplay by Hans Rodionoff is very based loosely on a storyline by Steve Gerber, who wrote the most well-known series of Man-Thing comics.

The movie stars Matthew Le Nevez, Rachael Taylor, and Jack Thompson.

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Most of the source material was altered. Among these are moving the setting from the Florida Everglades to Louisiana (though the film was actually made in Australia), and changing the creature’s powers from burning those who “know fear” to being able to manipulate the swamp’s vegetation. The movie also made no mention of A.I.M. or their attempt to steal the super soldier serum. The character is also represented in a significantly more antagonistic light than the comic-book version. Man-Thing’s former identity remained Ted Sallis, though in the film he is portrayed as a Native American shaman instead of a scientist. Consequently, the Man-Thing’s origin is somewhat different, though the Nexus of All Realities is still involved.

Two teenagers who have ventured deep into the swamp to have sex but the young man is killed by a plant-like monster.

The following day, young replacement sheriff Kyle Williams reaches Bywater and meets with deputy sheriff Fraser, who tells him that the previous sheriff was not the only missing person: At least forty-seven other people were missing, the first one having been shaman and Seminole chieftain Ted Sallis, since oil tycoon Fred Schist had bought the ancient tribal lands from Sallis himself to prospect…

Reviews:

“Brett Leonard turns in one of his best directing jobs to date, giving the movie an eerie feel that constantly holds the audience’s attention […] Comic book scribe Hans Rodinoff turns in an equally good screenplay, allowing for plenty of gory deaths and suspenseful moments.” Joseph Savitsky, Beyond Hollywood

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“The director, Brett Leonard, tries for some jump-scares, but as with the rest of the film, they just fall flat, not even making for a startle. So not only does this film fail as a Marvel movie, it fails as a horror movie as well. He also tries to ram every Southern stereotype down our throat at any chance he gets (possibly to try and counteract the blaring Australian influences), while giving us some of the corniest and hackneyed dialogue you will ever hear.” Comic Book Revolution

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“The filmmakers cannot seem to decide what Man-Thing is either. Throughout the film, it is implied that Man-Thing is a demigod sent by the vengeful ancestors of the wronged tribe. Or perhaps it’s a mutated Ted Sallis still alive for some odd reason. Or perhaps it’s a demonic ghost of Sallis, like a slimy version of The Crow.” Scott W. David, Horror Express

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