The Thing (2011)
Directed By: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen
Subgenre: Science Fiction
Synopsis: A depiction of the events to leading up to John Carpenter’s version where a Norwegian scientific team discovers a spaceship and what appears to be the corpse of an alien frozen in the ice. The creature is soon revived and wreaking havoc on their camp.
Thoughts: It was pretty damn ambitious for a studio to look at revisiting John Carpenter’s vision from 1982, but seeing as how they did, I am glad they went the route of the prequel, as opposed to a straight remake. The groundwork was already in place, and all they had to do was flesh out the story and insert some tense moments coupled with kick ass FX. The big question is, how successful were they in do that?
Well, the story was good enough. There was only so much they could do and I thought the flow of the script and the characters were all pretty well rounded. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who played Kate, was portrayed a little too much to be like Ripley from Alien, but she did do a good job in her role. I was happy to see that they skipped a romance angle, as that would have been easy to insert.
The mixed cast of Norwegians and Americans was a good idea as well. The language barrier was a great tension builder among the members of the outpost. I really thought that Matthiis should have done a little more to build the tension. There were moments, but the movie tended to focus on the action and the alien a little too much. Part of what made the original so great was the unbearable tension that would break with frightening images of what the alien had become.
Speaking of the alien, it had a lot more screen time in the prequel. I think this hurt the movie more than anything. It was pretty fantastic looking, and at times reminded me of something from the Hellraiser series, but it was not what I was looking for here. Like I said, I think the tension would have been a better gimmick to build on.
The FX were a mix of practical and CGI and there was one particular use of CGI that was pretty dismal. I think anyone that has watched the movie will know what I am talking about, and if you have yet to see it, I will say that it is fairly early on in the movie. It is by far the worst of the movie, and there are some pretty stunning scenes to come, so don’t get discouraged.
I am pretty middle of the road on The Thing prequel. It wasn’t a success, but it’s not close to a failure either. I probably would have enjoyed it a bit more had I not been comparing it to the original. It was a good effort and is worth checking out.