Friday, January 27, 2012

The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011) Dir. by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson. While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form. Written by IMDb Editors

Up until a few days ago I had no idea who Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. was... today... I still don't. That being said, it isn't really a bad thing. The Thing prequel, and yes I said prequel, is the first thing he has ever done in the way of directing feature films. I admit I have been one of those stuck up fans of the original remake helmed by the legend John Carpenter, but I don't think I should have been. I was dumb and I listened to all the negativity surrounding this film. When in all actuality the only thing really bad about this film is the title. It is extremely misleading, and if there were going to have this be a prequel, then they really shouldn't have given it the same name as its predecessor. Probably the stupidest move they could have made, and I assure you it killed this film before it hit the big screens.

The producers convinced Universal Studios to allow them to create a prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing instead of a remake, as they felt Carpenter's film was already perfect, so making a remake would be like "painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa". However, the prequel still has the title of the original film, because they couldn't think of a subtitle (for example, "The Thing: Begins") that sounded good.

Have you ever watched Carpenter's film, and wondered where that helicopter came from, who the person was flying it, or who the gunman was firing that that damn pesky dog. I know I have thought about it on several occasions. I know Carpenter's film does touch on aspects of back story, but there was still just a huge gap there and I wanted to know more. ENTER THIS MOVIE! I am happy to say that there were several moments during this film where I was able to draw a direct link, whether it was the helicopter pilot, or the dog, or the hollow ice cube though to have contained a frozen life form. The effectively manage to fill in all the gaps, and they do it with script level precision. I could tell Eric Heisserer is a fan of the original remake and it shows... a hell of a lot better than his Nightmare on Elm Street Remake.

The characters are pretty dismissive within the story, but their development is really not essential to the film. If you have seen Carpenter's film, then you know that no one from the Norwegian film really "survived". Mary Elizabeth Winstead has a respectable performance as our female lead, and Ulrich Thomsen does a fantastic job as her counterpart. The rest of the characters were just great targets for the creature. The thing I was SUPER happy for was that they didn't try to do some dumb cameo with Kurt Russell.

The effects of this film give it such a bad wrap. Yes... I get it... we are in a time where great make-up and creature costumes give way to computer generated graphics. This film is no different. They manage to give it a good mixture of both, and for the most part I was really happy with it. The antics tend to play out the same way they did in the first movie, but I don't think there was much they could do about that. A bunch of people in the Arctic with an alien who steals what people look like doesn't offer a bunch in the way of changing story lines, but they did manage to do a good job of trying. The way of finding out who was an alien was realistic and had flaws much like it should, but it was really unique and I liked it. The creature effects were sick and disgusting, which was amazing. It was far more graphic than I had originally thought it would be.

Perhaps the most important part of the film to me (and several times within the film) is the seamless transition between the prequel and the original. I can assure you that I am not ruining anything when I tell you that within the ending credits is a scene that ends this film EXACTLY how the first film began, only this time you know who the men in the chopper are, and you know where that damn dog came from, and you know exactly why they are trying to stop it. It was a PERFECT way to end the film, and I think it was probably one of the smoothest links I have seen between a prequel and sequel ever in my history of watching films. Just brilliant. The film comes out this Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray, and I assure you that I will be picking it up. Just remember that you can't always trust (or join) the negative that surrounds remakes, prequels, or prequels that come off as remakes. Watch the movies and formulate your own opinions.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 Cavity Fillings
Cinematic Value: 7/10 Cavity Fillings


Ricky said...

I didn't fancy this but I'll check it out. Great review.

Edward said...

I have to say that this prequel 'The Thing' 2011 version has a lot of great story plots as it is in the John Carpenter's version of 'The Thing.' I really wish the filmmakers could have done the real special makeup fx and a lot of puppetry fx in this film. But I'm really looking forward for many new sequels, and I think the filmmakers should stop doing the trashy CGI fx and should take the good deal of time doing twenty different puppetry fx, air-bladders makeup fx, and all other real special makeup effects.

iain said...

Isn't there a lovely, oxymoronic irony in the term "original remake"?