Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Man-Thing (4 Stars)

Here's a little test. When you're with your friends ask them to name the films based on Marvel comics. They'll have no trouble naming the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Then they'll remember Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. After a while they'll remember the Punisher, and some of them might even know that Blade was a Marvel character. But how many of them would remember Man-Thing, even though the film was made in 2005, less than 10 years ago?

"Man-Thing" -- there's a hyphen in the film title which the poster designers omitted -- was originally planned as a television movie, but late in the development it was decided to release it in theatres. Obviously not everyone heard about this change of plan. It was shown in American cinemas, but in almost every other country it went straight to video.

I was reluctant to watch the film, even though I enjoyed reading the Man-Thing comics in the 1970's. I read reviews of the film, which where mostly negative. It wasn't until today, nine years later, that I finally watched it. And I was surprised at how good it is!

Okay, the Man-Thing's origin and powers have been changed, but that happens in nearly all of the Marvel films. In the comics the Man-Thing is a man, Ted Sallis, who was transformed into a monster after experiments that were supposed to make him a super-soldier. In the film the Man-Thing is a guardian of a native American tribe. In the comics the Man-Thing kills everyone in whom he senses fear; in the film he selectively kills those who have desecrated the Indian sacred grounds. In the comics the Man-Thing's body is made of slime, usually solid, but he is able to ooze through small holes if necessary. In the film his body is also made up of vines, branches and other swamp material.

Another change is that the Man-Thing has been relocated from the Florida Everglades to the swamps of Louisiana. This is a change that works well, in my opinion. An industrialist has bought land from native Americans so that he can drill for oil. Those who weren't prepared to sell their land were killed. Only the Man-Thing is able to return the land to its rightful owners, but in the process there's a lot of collateral damage.

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