The Thing (2011)

 

So what the fuck is it, a prequel or a remake? Can someone please explain this shit to me? Fine, I’ll explain it to YOU, those that didn’t know what this was intended to be. The short answer is that it’s a prequel to the 1982 masterpiece by John Carpenter, The Thing. The long answer is that this is a prequel to the 1982 masterpiece by John Carpenter, The Thing, that rather than use a little bit of creativity to come up with a title that let people know that it wasn’t a remake had decided to just call it The Thing and not give a fuck. Do you know how many times Wolfgang questioned me about why there was a lady in this one? Goddammit. The John Carpenter film is one of my favorite horror movies of all time, if not also one of my favorite movies of any genre of all time. This wasn’t a movie that anyone expected or even wanted to be made, but that doesn’t stop Hollywood from thinking that it would make money, so here it is. I tried to go in with no expectations, other than expecting it to be bad, so I could try to highlight what I liked. Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much to like, and you can bet your bottom dollar there are going to be “spoilers”, if you will, in this review.

 

Luckily they saved some money by using an old prop of one of those shitty Starship Troopers aliens.

A bunch of Euros, who we learn are Norwegian, fall into a hole while exploring Antarctica and find a spaceship. In order to explore the remains of a body found in the ice, Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s character, Kate, is brought down to investigate. After the chunk of ice the alien was found in is brought up, things, surprisingly, get complicated. The alien breaks out of the thawing ice and starts killing things and despite killing this “thing”, they see that it was beginning to replicate a human victim at a cellular level. What does this mean? Well of course we learn that the alien can replicate any of the more than a dozen individuals at the camp, leading to a lot of paranoia and CGI. One thing Kate learns is that the alien thing might be able to replicate human bone and tissue, it can’t replicate things like titanium plates that might have helped a broken bone or fillings in one’s teeth. This causes Kate to check everyone’s mouths for fillings, but after separating fillings from non-fillings, there’s an alien attack that leads to Kate and another character pursuing someone back to the alien spaceship. Kate blows up the spaceship and is left alone in Antarctica, supposedly with no real way of returning to civilization. That’s when the music from the first film starts playing, and there’s a montage that fills in the events between the end of this movie and the start of Carpenter’s version. At least we got to hear Ennio Morricone‘s score again!

 

Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn’t nearly as hot here as she is in that scene from Scott Pilgrim, am I right!?

To try to compare this movie, in any way shape or form, to being anywhere nearly as good as Carpenter’s version is obviously completely out of the question. None of the characters, tone, plot, or special effects are at all similar to anything Carpenter was able to accomplish, so I won’t even try to compare. I was avoiding setting any sort of expectations whatsoever, but when the filmmakers stressed the idea of practical effects, I couldn’t help but be pissed off over how much CGI was used and how the filmmakers were clearly lying to just try to get people into the theaters. All of the actors were fine, and as a standalone movie wasn’t too terrible, but it just didn’t really do anything at all. If you like movies full of jump-scares and grotesque CGI creatures, then you might enjoy this movie, but that’s not what I enjoy, so it wasn’t really for me. It felt like more of a tense videogame, filled with weird and creepy monsters, but with no investment in anything or anyone, because if anything happened, you could just start over a few levels back.

 

Beard? Check. Helicopter pilot? Check. Flamethrower? Check. Ooze the same amount of sex appeal as Kurt Russell? NO CHECK! YOU CAN’T FOOL ME, YOUNG OWEN LARS! RUB THAT BEARD ALL OVER BERU AND SEE IF I CARE!

Something that I initially enjoyed, but in retrospect am kind of pissed off because of, was the sequence that “tied together” the two films. Possibly because hearing the Morricone score got me excited, I enjoyed the tying together of the films, even down to mimicking some of the creature remains and using the same font as the credits from Carpenter’s version. Something that I didn’t realize was how easy this sequence could have been, but how difficult they made it. Remember when Kurt Russell found the body in the Norwegian camp that had its wrists cut and there was a blood icicle? We saw that body, only to realize I had no fucking clue who that character was or when that character had killed themselves. And remember how the opening of the Carpenter film we saw a stereotypical looking husky running through the snow? This film had a different furry dog jump out of the window to get chased, but considering that other dog has obviously been dead for decades, no big deal, you switch the dog, shoot some footage of that dog, and everyone moves on. That would make sense, wouldn’t it? Exactly! But instead, we see one dog jump out of a window, and moments later we see the footage of the dog from the Carpenter version, so clearly they couldn’t even find the most generic looking husky to run through the snow, but figured no one would notice when jumping back and forth between scenes. Ultimately, there was too much of an attempt to mimic small details about the Carpenter film, but completely ignored the entire pace and tone of it, hoping for as much success. I probably would have enjoyed this movie had it not been called The Thing, and I just felt that this movie disrespected the legacy that Carpenter’s film has built.

 

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5 responses to “The Thing (2011)

  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.

    • I can agree about the film needing to stand on its own to be judged, but even in that context it felt a little flat. I guess the effects were kind of cool, as far as CGI monsters go, but we’ve seen plenty of CGI monsters on the loose type of horror films in the past 15 years.

  2. Just read this b/c i just watched it. Compared to the original, I agree with your rating. As a standalone, I would go higher. There were plenty of things for me to dislike in this film though. The heroine is a big one. It seems like the filmmakers were trying to go for a reluctant leader type and the ended up with a reluctant common sense haver instead. At no point does Ramona Flowers become the badass anti-hero/leader that MacReady was. This point is driven home when at the end she asks the American dude, “So what do we do now?” SHE just saved the world and she’s asking some dumbass who’s probably still concussed from his (unexplained) helicopter crash ordeal what to do next? Fuck that. She should have raised a shotgun, pumped that shit, stuck a chewed up, lit cigar in her mouth, and looked right at the camera and said, “Welcome to Earth!” Or something along those lines.
    Also, what’s up with that poster? Is it supposed to be fan art for the Carpenter original? What does that have to do with this movie?

    • Maybe it was because he was a helicopter pilot, I figured they were trying to make Joel Edgerton the Kurt Russell-esque character as opposed to Ramona Flowers. Couldn’t she have just used her teleportation bag to get out of there?! And as far as the poster, it was one of the things that got me excited for the movie because it did look so similar to the Carpenter version. I suppose it was intentional to trick everyone. I HATE BEING TRICKED!

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