Directed by: Len Wiseman and various others
Written by: Mark Verheiden and various others
Starring: Crystal Reed, Virginia Madsen, Andy Bean, Derek Mears, Maria Sten, Henderson Wade, Jeryl Prescott, Jennifer Beals, Will Patton, Kevin Durand
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Although the origin of Swamp Thing may not be as universally known as those claimed by, say, Batman or Superman, I’m sure you know the basics. In short, researcher Alec Holland gets in over his head in whatever tale it may be, gets blown up, falls into a swamp, and then becomes some…thing.
As you no doubt surmised, that premise serves as the jumping off point for a 10-episode gem of a series that mixes elements of science fiction, horror and gothic romance. Even if you’ve never acquainted yourself with Swampy before, I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy about this show that was taken from us too soon. Alec Holland, we hardly knew ye, indeed.
Seriously, where do I even begin?
From the top down, the acting on this show is rock solid. Whether it be from screen veterans such as Will Patton and Virgina Madsen, or the top billed Crystal Reed, everyone brings their A-game. Reed’s Abby Arcane is pretty much our guide through this delightfully macabre world – and she does a fantastic job as just stated – but the tag team of Andy Bean and Derek Mears cannot be overlooked.
Bean, as you may know, plays Alec Holland, the human side of the titular equation. Mears, meanwhile, embodies the Swamp Thing creature himself. If you were to ask me, Mears is the real star. To be honest, I previously knew him from only silent roles such as Jason Voorhees and the Predator, but he blew me away here. The way the guy is able to emote through all those prosthetics and make you feel his pain is enough to cause your own eyes to water. I really can’t say enough about what phenomenal work he did.
As for the cinematography, that’s all top notch and feature film quality. DC Universe shows have never skimped in this sense, and I’m glad that carried over here. Then again, we should’ve expected no less from something bearing the pedigree of producer James Wan (director of Saw and The Conjuring), not to mention Len Wiseman (Underworld) himself directing the first two episodes. It’s probably best you watch this on Blu-ray, as the superior format will better help you make out what’s going on during all of those nighttime swamp scenes.
The narrative itself is highly engaging, and the writers deserved pats on the back for being able to morph the tenth episode into a season finale. If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, the long and short of it is that this show had the plug pulled on it in the midst of production. As such, what was supposed to be a 13-episode saga was trimmed down to ten, and the finale somehow remains coherent and serves its function.
There’s really not much to complain about, as the aforementioned 10-episode length isn’t really the fault of the producers. Again, they took lemons and made delicious lemonade. However, the first few installments could be scrutinized as moving a little slowly at some points, but just keep in mind that world-building is occurring and the pace will pick up before long.
If there’s anything that grinds my gears, it’s that there’s no bonus content included on the Blu-ray set. At all. Not doing so makes it feel like yet another nail has been driven into the proverbial coffin. We can continue holding out hope that Netflix or some other platform will pick it up for a second season, but this is most likely well and truly it.
By now, you’ve probably gathered I’m recommending Swamp Thing – and you’re correct. If you have either a previous attachment to the character, or are looking for something somewhat comparable to the likewise ill-fated Constantine, then I implore you to pick up a copy. Plus, you’ll be treated to live action appearances made by DC cult favorites such as the Phantom Stranger, Madame Xanadu, Blue Devil and the Floronic Man. Give it a shot, my friends.