Monday, 2 April 2012

The Thing (2011): Review

The Thing is a 2011 adaptation of John W. Campbell's novella Who Goes There? The film also acts as a prequel to the events of 1951's The Thing From Another World and it's remake 1982's The Thing directed by the legendary John Carpenter. This version is Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Final Destination 3) and Joel Edgerton (Warrior).

The film follows the events immediately preceding Carpenter's film, in which a team of Norwegian researchers discover a flying saucer under the ice in Antarctica. They are soon joined by a crew of Americans including Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Winstead) and pilot Sam Carter (Edgerton), as well as Dr. Sander Halvorson, a third party interested in retrieving whatever is recovered from the ice. Indeed they do find someThing (see what I did there) in the ice and decide to bring back the frozen E.T to defrost back at the base.  However when our alien friend awakes, it's in a pretty foul mood and proceeds to divide and conquer the team through it's signature replicating abilities. If any of the team want to make it out of the antarctic circle alive they must decide who they can trust and who is....the Thing!

The first (and perhaps most insulting) thing to mention about this movie is that it's a remake in prequel's clothing. There may be Norwegians involved and it certainly connects directly to Carpenter's film with it's ending, but (ironically) the plot is a suspicious impersonation of a genuine horror classic. The film makers did previously go on record in saying that they didn't feel they could remake such a classic so instead opted to show the story from a different perspective. The thing (ok I'll stop that now) is, they have remade Carpenter's film, and there is no alternative perspective (aside from seeing inside the spaceship). The events of the movie are identical to the original; an alien is found in the ice, it kills a dog, it impersonates people, a test must be performed to find out who is the thing. It's such a missed opportunity as they could have explored other avenues, but this is totally lacking in originality and creativity.

That being said there were attempts to explain and explore certain elements that were not present in the original film, such as the alien spaceship and the biological process involved with replication. Unfortunately this comes across as very unsubtle and a definite over-explanation of the origins of the thing. The thing is ambiguous by nature, that's what created the paranoia and suspense of the original. It could be anyone, it could look like anything, and clumsy attempts to explain the creature really fall flat. The wise decision was taken to use a mix of practical and CGI effects for the creature, anyone who saw Carpenter's film as a child will have those iconic visual effects firmly burnt into their brain and this movie did a good job of replicating that, with some new added elements.

The Thing is not a bad film by any means but it stands in the shadow of a gargantuan measuring stick. Make no mistake, this is a remake. A remake of a remake in fact, and as such really doesn't offer anything new, but is still an enjoyable retread with some very impressive monster sequences. I would say they shouldn't have bothered remaking a classic sci-fi film, but if John Carpenter had carried that opinion in 1982 then we wouldn't have one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

3 Stars ***

What did you think of The Thing? Does any film need to be remade twice?


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