It’s time to look at an old school DC film. This movie doesn’t really feel like your average comic book film and could easily be mistaken for just being another horror film. That would probably be the best outcome for all parties involved since I doubt anyone wants to take credit for this movie. It just isn’t good and does so many things wrong that you’ll end up wondering what the film was thinking. The characters aren’t very smart and so it’s hard to root for anyone.
The film starts off with the main character, Alice heading over to the Swamp. She is here to fix some sensors, but the broken sensors were sabotaged by terrorists so she isn’t allowed to go near them. Since she has nothing else to do she hangs around the pair of scientists who are trying to make some breakthroughs and insults them the whole time. The main guy is married, but seems to forget this all the time so all scenes with him are cringe worthy. That’s when the villains come in and murder the two scientists in the hopes of getting their research. Alice managed to snatch one book though so their collection won’t be complete. The villains don’t like that and decide to give chase, but they have one more obstacle to try and get past, The Swamp Thing!
The film doesn’t exactly hide the Swamp Thing’s identity, but I won’t allude to it in case you need that reveal. Needless to say, The Swamp Thing is here to help. “This is My Swamp!” should have been his opening line but he’s a creature of action as opposed to words. As the film goes on he does start to get a little more chatty though so I guess that’s a good thing? Unfortunately, he isn’t quite as intimidating as the average creature. In most of these horror films you see the monsters just destroying everybody until they die in the end. Since the Swamp Thing is a heroic creature, he doesn’t get the same treatment. He gets captured and beaten by the crooks. He doesn’t do a good job of taking the villains out of the equation so they always pop right back up to give him some more grief. He isn’t opposed to murder as we see him do it several times, he is always in just too much of a hurry to get away. He’s just not a very likable character. His abilities also don’t seem all that impressive in this film. He was nerfed all the way into the ground.
Alice isn’t a bad main character although she can also be a little iffy at times. For the positives, she is a fighter. Alice does put up a struggle whenever she appears and even lands in some good hits. On the other hand, she is rather slow on the uptake. Even when seeing the Swamp Thing mowing down her opponents she keeps telling him to back off. She’s certainly safer with him than without. She also has an unfortunate tendency to trip over just about everything. She probably hit the ground at least ten times. Cmon Alice, you can do better than that!
Then I have to quickly rewind to the beginning of the film to explain why the normal joe characters always fall below expectations. So you have a guy running through the swamp when a few guys with guns walk up to him. He quickly lets them disarm him and then runs. What’s the point? They’ll just shoot him down. He’s dead either way so he may as well have held on to his gun and taken one of them down with him. This is preferable for many reasons. One of which is that by firing right away you at least have the slimmest of chances to survive. Second, at least they’ll be forced to gun you down right there which is a far less painful death than the alternative. Third, you get to die with some dignity. Trying to run away in a swamp when you’re outnumbered like that won’t work. Even if it was just one guy he could shoot you once your back was turned. These hostage situations always drive me batty.
This film is a little on the violent side with people getting snapped and crunched. The main villain’s transformation scene was also shown to be as grotesque and violent as possible which is a little on the rare side for transformations. Usually you expect those to at least be a little pleasant right? The violence isn’t extremely over the top but certainly is high enough that it’s noticeable. There isn’t really animal violence if you look at the film casually, but it’s there when you drill into the specifics. The unlikable main characters were running experiments on the animals which is a no go. These animals don’t care about the science so why should they have to be used like this? The animal certainly didn’t look like it was having fun being all wet like that.
Swamp Thing also goes out of its way to make the villains unlikable. A good villain should command respect but also be fun to root for/against. None of that is here with these villains. At the most the main villain isn’t bad. He’s one of those random rich guys who wants to see the world burn. The main villain is really one of his subordinates though who chases Alice around quite a lot. Naturally he is shown to be rather depraved and of course he couldn’t just be a professional trying to earn a paycheck. I get that guys like him will typically end up being the villains since it makes sense, but it doesn’t make any of his scenes work any better.
The best character in the film is definitely the kid who owned the gas station. He was on point and could sniff out danger a mile away. It’s a shame that his gun was defective but there’s no way he could have known that. Even though he was just a kid he did a lot of work and helped get Alice to a safe place. He brought the film a level of charm and wonder that it didn’t have previously. Not enough to save the film or anything like that, but it was still neat.
Overall, Swamp Thing is definitely not a film that I would recommend. The characters aren’t all that smart and Swamp Thing himself looks quite weak. I’m glad he kept in his healing powers, but being able to fight a little more would have been great too. The film drags on a bit and the only good character got a really small amount of screen time. This is definitely one of those movies that you should skip and I’d advise you to check out some of the classic Godzilla films instead if you want to see how a creature should be portrayed. I can guarantee you that at the very least he wouldn’t go down easy like the Swamp Thing.