THE THING [2011] – Film Review

The inflection of a remake disguised as a prequel always debates a sense of comparison but ultimately it comes down to the basis of satisfying the fan while also retaining a sense of a new storyline that will bring in a new breed of audience. Such is the case with “The Thing”, an updating of the 1982 cult classic of the same name which pioneered many cool prosthetic effects for its time through the vision of director John Carpenter in what many consider his best movie.

The new movie directed with reverence but not overdone tendencies by Matthijs van Heinjningen, works on the basis of what was alluded to in the first “The Thing”. The alien life form that is discovered inside a hidden spaceship below the ice in Antartica returns to life and is able to replicate the human cells to become an exact fascimile, except for the fact that it cannot replicate non-organic materials like teeth fillings. The camp it hit first was a Norwegian base who wants to keep the discovery of alien life a secret.

Watching the beginning of the first movie, the attention to detail in the replication of the sets and exactly how they looked back in 1982 is uncanny. The first film was supposedly shot in the Yukon whereas much of this was shot at Toronto Pinewood. The similarities in terms of this set work are eerie in how close they are. The actual storyline fits well without purely copying the first one though the idea of international structure at an ice station is definitely brought more to bear. The idea of the year as 1982 is not alluded to more than the beginning titles and Colin Hay of “Men At Work”  covering his own “Who Can It Be Now”.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead who was nearly unrecognizable in her turn in “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” after her first bigger turn in Quentin Tarantino’s “Deathproof” plays an paleontologist who is brought into extract whatever secrets from the ice that might be possible. She by default turns into the lead protagonist against the alien which of course is a big departure from Kurt Russell’s reluctant anti-hero. Joel Edgerton, slowly but surely building his adherance to American audiences, plays an American pilot along with Lost’s Adele Akinnuoye-Agbaje giving the film definitely genre cred without overwhelming it with stars.

The key many might be wondering is the balance of practical versus CGI effects. In reality, the balance struck is exceptional considering how close it will be scrutinized, especially by movie buffs (including yours truly). Certain practical elements are certainly in play but they are subtle especially since the fluidity of effects has gotten better over the years. The only time it is more remarkably obvious is when the effects take place in day which specifically functions during one chopper scene. The rest of the action in this sense takes place at night.

Another obvious concern is connection from the end of this one to the beginning of the original. The prequel seemed to end at one point prompting pre-emptive “boos” from the audience before images began again almost shot for shot with elements just like the 1982 original. This was followed by clapping. There is no bigger endorsement to say that something works on both ends than this. And thereby, because of this, despite what came before it, this new “The Thing” earns its stripes.

 B

1 thought on “THE THING [2011] – Film Review

  1. It’s no great thing, just a better Thing than expected. It’s not incredibly scary but has the same tense and paranoid feel that the Carpenter version went for, and it works in a way. The problem is that on own it’s own, it doesn’t really work. Good review. Check out mine when you get the chance.

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