Conan Stevens (The Hobbit)
Matthew Le Nevez (Fred)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
Jack Thompson (Broken Arrow)
Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider)
Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight)
Steve Bastoni (Suburban Mayhem) is set in a backwater Leeziana town with an unusually large number of unexplained disappearances, the previous sheriff among them. Kyle Williams (Matthew Le Nevez) isn’t on the job as Bywater’s new sheriff long before he’s saddled with a murder investigation, one that’s interrupted by a squabble involving protestors at Schist Petroleum. Schist has set up shop in swamplands held sacred by the three…well, two, now…Indians that call Bywater home. Schist’s buyout happened under extremely suspicious circumstances, and townsfolk like schoolteacher Teri Richards (Rachel Taylor) aren’t going to stand for it. So…you know the drill. More unexplained murders. Kyle and Teri fall madly in love inexplicably quickly as they investigate. Can’t trust rednecks or blustering corporate weasels. Climax when the Man-Thing finally comes.For a movie titled Man-Thing, the plant-like creature almost seems like a minor supporting character. Sure, there are plenty of P.O.V. shots. A hand. A briefly glimpsed arm. A fuzzy photo. You don’t really get a full-on, unobscured look at Man-Thing until the last fifteen minutes or so of the movie. Sure, a “less is more” approach can work extremely effectively in a movie like Jaws, but Man-Thing isn’t Jaws. Wow. It really, really isn’t Jaws.Very loosely based on “Cry of the Native” in Adventures into Fear #16, the basic story is a mishmash of clichés — amorous kids who stumble into the path of a killer before the opening titles, the new cop in town, the corrupt, murderous businessman, a wronged man wreaking havoc from the grave, the quarreling, determined woman who gradually steps into the role of love interest, two scoops of cryptic Native American hokum… The creature looks like Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway’s creation, and a character named Ted Sallis does factor in, but the origin and motivations are both completely different. Nothing that happens bears much resemblance to the comics; the creature is practically a guard dog, killing pretty much everyone who crosses his path indiscriminately. No one who knows fear even burns at the Man-Thing’s touch. Violent shaking and stabbing vine-tentacles, sure, but no burning touch. I guess even if he is a second or third-tier character, “Man-Thing” still carries more marquee value than “Boring Sheriff”, the bland character who winds up snagging most of the screentime. The cast as a whole ranges from mediocre to there-are-twenty-million-people-in-Australia-and-I’m-pretty-sure-you-could-find-someone-better-than-this-guy. Also, Australians attempting a Southern accent are about as convincing as me trying to adopt an Australian accent. Stop it.Although Man-Thing debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel, this DVD has the full R-rated version of the movie, complete with a little bit of silicone-enhanced nudity and plenty of profanity. Some of the special effects wound up looking reasonably nice, and it’s unflinching about lingering shots of mangled corpses and skewering much of the cast. Doesn’t do much to redeem the movie, tho’. If I were watching Man-Thing on television, I’d have given up before the opening titles.  There’s no sense of tragedy or emotion or fear or excitement or…anything. Man-Thing isn’t unendurable or unwatchable, but the movie’s so bland, so uninteresting, and so sluggishly paced that it’s nearly impossible to recommend.