A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 368 – Swamp Thing (1982)

Swamp Thing (1982) – March 3rd, 2011

I never got into Swamp Thing, really. I think I mentioned my background with comics back when I reviewed the first X-Men movie but I’ll recap briefly here: Comics were frowned upon. Oh, they weren’t forbidden, but after all, I was an Excellent Reader, and reading comic books would have been Wasting My Potential. So I got into comics later and well, Swamp Thing just wasn’t one that attracted me. I think it’s pretty telling that my favorite Swamp Thing appearance is actually as a cameo in Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s Black Orchid book (which is awesome, by the way, and I highly recommend it). I get the character and all, and I like a lot of the concept, but well, give me Batman if you’re going DC.

The point being that I’m not so familiar with the Swamp Thing mythos. I know some of the Alan Moore canon, but pre-Moore? Not so much, and this movie is based on the pre-Moore stuff, so I’m going into it somewhat cold. Not that I think it matters much. I’m fairly sure this isn’t a movie overly concerned with cleaving to canon. It’s got its concept and a few key characters and plot points and off it goes! It’s really a pretty shallow movie, all things considered, but it’s not trying to be deep. Well, okay, there are a couple of lines that hint that someone read some philosophy in college, but that’s about as deep as it gets.

If you know any of the basics about Swamp Thing then it should come as no surprise that the movie centers on Dr. Alec Holland, a scientist studying swamp botany, and how he becomes a giant plant creature, the titular Swamp Thing. In the movie Alec and his sister are working on a secret project deep in the swamp while goons in fatigues are closing in on them. Federal agent Alice Cable shows up to replace their recently-attacked-by-a-gator technician. And before she’s been there even a full day she’s gotten a tour of the swamp, shown her technical prowess, witnessed Alec’s big breakthrough and then made out with him. That’s quite a way to start your new job. And then the goons attack the camp to get their hands on the formula for the sinister Dr. Arcane.

What follows is Alec turning into Swamp Thing and a whole bunch of running around in the swamp. Cable runs around, the goons run around, Swamp Thing runs around. There’s lots of splashing and shooting and shouting. Cable doesn’t know that the plant monster who keeps saving her when the goons close in is actually Alec since he doesn’t actually talk the first few times she meets him. She even tells him to “shoo” at one point and instead of being all “Dude, Cable, we made out! Are you dumping me?” he just sort of shrugs and leaves without a word. Eventually he introduces himself and she immediately goes from kicking ass to fainting. I suppose she did have a long day at that point, what with being shot at and almost drowned and all.

I don’t even really see the point of going into detail about the climax of the movie. Of course Arcane gets the formula that turned Alec into Swamp Thing and of course he takes it assuming it will turn him into some sort of brain monster, I guess. And of course it goes horribly wrong and we end up with a final fight between two rubber monsters, one of whom has a sword. I mean, of course that happens! And Swamp Thing wins and heads off into the swamps from whence he came, leaving Cable to go back to DC to explain all this weirdness. Fortunately for her, she does have a witness: The awesome Jude, a teenager she met at a gas station in the middle of the swamp while she was running from the baddies. Jude is pretty damn awesome in ways I can’t even articulate. He’s just so calm about everything, even when everything includes getting bashed over the head and healed by a swamp monster.

To be honest, I really kind of liked this movie. Okay, so the rubber suits are just silly and when Swamp Thing’s arm gets chopped off it’s painfully obvious that the actor in the suit just has his arm squeezed under the suit against his torso. The ‘romance’ between Alec and Cable is the fastest whirlwind ever (seriously, he makes Captain Kirk look like the master of slow seduction). The goons are ridiculous and the scenes in Arcane’s house after he captures Swamp Thing and Cable are silly at best. The wipes used as transitions add a ridiculous tone to it all that seems somewhat out of place. But I really liked that Cable was so competent a character. Sure, she’s a damsel in distress a lot of the time, but not for lack of her trying to handle things herself. She’s just outnumbered and Swamp Thing’s got super powers. Can’t really compete there. So I like that. I like that the movie has some fun action and a heroine I can enjoy (which is even better since a lot of the movie spends time with her) and I like that Adrienne Barbeau seemed to enjoy playing her. I wasn’t looking for a deep plot or fantastic special effects. I was looking for comic book cheese and I got it, with an unexpected and very welcome helping of awesomesauce.

March 3, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: