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Swamp Thing (2019) Review

My History With the Series:
When I was a kid, Swamp Thing was a series airing on USA. I’d catch Swamp Thing on ocassion, but I was too young to really “get it.” However, a cartoon was produced around the same time and that I loved. It was cheesy and horrible, but I didn’t care. I proudly watched and re-watched my VHS tape over and over.

I’ve always had a fandom for Swamp Thing because of that cartoon. It was only strengthened a few years ago, when I tackled Alan Moore’s original run. The complexity and brilliance of the character shone through and I just couldn’t get enough Swamp Thing.

Then the DC Universe was announced and Swamp Thing was one of the first series announced. I was over the moon excited. It was filmed in my home state of North Carolina and I couldn’t wait to see horror icon James Wan tackle one of my favorite superheroes. I followed the production, liked the cast, and then right before I got a chance to watch the first episode, the series was cancelled and the number of episodes reduced. This soured me so much on the DC Universe that I didn’t boot it up again for the rest of the year.

Recently, I re-subscribed to the DC Universe to watch Harley Quinn and I decided to give Swamp Thing a shot.

What The Series Is About (Non-Spoiler):
After Alec Holland is killed in a swamp where mysterious chemicals are being dumped. He transforms into a plant based lifeform who embarks on a journey to figure out who he is and who did this to him.

What I Liked About It:

-Swamp Thing truly is a horror show. Not every episode has horror in it, but when it comes, it comes hard and fast. There are some fantastic scenes with some amazing body horror (think The Thing) and some creepy scenes featuring ghost like creatures. Gore and tension are abundant.
-The Swamp Thing suit is fantastic. It’s everything I could have ever wanted in a Swamp Thing suit. It’s prosthetic, looks great, and Derek Mears performance is borderline brilliant. In fact, every time he’s on the screen I find myself wondering if this was a movie would he be nominated for an Academy Award? It’s that good.
-Crystal Reed (Abby Arcane), Henderson Wade (Matt Cable), and Ian Ziergin (Daniel Cassidy) really shined throughout the series. Andy Bean (Alec Holland) took a while to grow on me but his performance is deeper than it first appears.
-The series uses Swamp Thing like Jaws. He rarely appears but when he does its impactful. By the first three episodes, he finally gets some screen time and its by far the best of the series. I think the producers were plotting for that thirteen episode run plus additional seasons which would have given us more Swamp Thing. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

-The side plot with Ian Ziergin (Daniel Cassidy) was one of my favorite parts of the story.

What I Didn’t Like About It:

-Overall, the cast isn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t bad. There are some talented folks like Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, and Jennifer Beals making up part of the core cast, but none of them really shined. I’m not sure if it was the characters, the writing, or even overexposure, but by the end of the series I just wanted to see more Swamp Thing.
-The series is a bit of a slow burn and the lack of actual Swamp Thing made it a chore to get through at times. I found myself in a couple of episodes wishing the small town politics and betrayals would stop and I could just see Swamp Thing going through a existential crisis or kicking ass. Again, I blame this on the show runners setting up for a long run, but it was still a bit disappointing.

-The filmmakers used a combination of CGI and practical effects to varying degrees of success. The practical effects all looked amazing, but when combined with the CGI or when scenes with CGI were only used it was clear that the CGI was on the cheaper side. That was frustrating because the show is shot theatrically and looks amazing, but then its ruined by cheap CGI vines on occasion.

Additional Notes:
-The town of Marais is a fictional town. Marais means swamp in French.

-Adrienne Barbeau plays a small part as Dr. Palomar. She was the star of the 1982 theatrical release of Swamp Thing directed by Wes Craven.

-The show was cancelled before the second episode aired and the order was cut from thirteen episodes to ten. The show was cancelled because of creative differences with DC’s parent company WarnerMedia and the loss of tax rebates in the state of North Carolina where Swamp Thing was being filmed.

-Most of the episodes are named after Bruce Springsteen episodes.

-Crystal Reed (Abby Arcane) previously portrayed Sophia Falcone in Gotham.

-Swamp Thing was produced by James Wan, director of the Saw and The Conjuring.

I really enjoyed Swamp Thing. I wish I would have spent more time with the character and less time with the Sunderlands, but I understand how this production went and I’m sure the showrunners did the best with what they had.

Whenever you get to see Swamp Thing its amazing. The show is worth watching for the suit and Derek Mears performance. I love the iconic imagery that was used from the comics and how the show didn’t shy away from tackling the inner conflict of Alec Holland/Swamp Thing.

I’d rate Swamp Thing a four out of five and swap its worth a rental.

Published inTelevision

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