[Review] The Thing
Remakes in Hollywood are truly getting out of control. Fortunately, the 2011 version of The Thing isn’t simply a rehash of John Carpenter’s 1982 classic. Rather, it serves as a prequel to the events that feature the doppelganger thing that runs roughshod over an Antarctic crew. However, upon closer inspection, this remake feels too much like a rehash and doesn’t bring enough to the table to constitute its worth as a prequel; which sucks, because it would have been a great concept if they figured out how to nail it.
Like its predecessor (and the 1951 original novella “Who Goes There”) The Thing follows the follies of a group of Antarctic researchers who stumble across a frozen alien and find out the hard way why you should never f*ck with a doppelganger.
Mary Elizabeth Winestead leads the charge of the bumbling researchers as paleontologist Kate Lloyd, who is drafted for a mission that she knows very little about. She joins a league of Norwegian scientists led by Dr. Sander Halversen (Ulrich Thomsen), who comprise the group that bite it at the beginning of the 1982 film. She’s also joined by a few Americans including colleague Adam (Eric Christian Olsen) and helicopter pilot Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton). The mission leads them to the frozen alien that will ultimately ruin their lives. After realizing that the giant parasite was in more of a slumber rather than a frozen state, the group becomes tormented by the shape shifter once Kate figures out its ability to clone humans. What transpires is a game of cat and mouse where you never really know (but you kind of do) who The Thing has taken over and will decide to kill next.
Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. handles the prequel well from a visual standpoint, taking set cues from the 1982 version and bringing them to life in order to provide familiarity. It’s not his fault this movie fails, that blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of writer Eric Heisserer (who also wrote the abysmal remake to Nightmare On Elm Street). The film is written in a manner that has a difficult time deciding on whether it wants to parallel the events of the original or become a new movie that can stand on its own. By the time it makes the decision to be its own movie, during the ludicrous final act that plays more like a D-level Sigourney Weaver flick, you’ll likely be scratching your head at what you’ve just witnessed.
What the film does do right is utilizing the modern day special effects to bring The Thing to life in a supremely creepy manner. It’s an ugly, skin-crawling version of an alien lifeform that is certainly commendable in hiking up the scare factor. The cast also play their roles well. Winestead may take a few cues from Alien to round out her character, but she’s likable and you want her to find a way out. The rest of the crew project their paranoia effectively as well.
But alas, the 2011 prequel shows far too many cracks in its surface for you to ignore. If it’s supposed to lead into the events when Kurt Russell and Keith David have to tackle The Thing, it doesn’t do it well enough for you to care. The lousy final 30 minutes of the movie really suck the life out of the film and you’ll likely eye roll when the loose ends between the new and old are tied together. It ultimately becomes unnecessary and would have fared much better as a film that stood on its own.
Rating: 2 out of 5