MOVIE: The Thing (2011)

As a huge fan of the Kurt Russell version of The Thing, I was both excited and trepidatious about seeing this “prequel.”  Obviously, having seen Russell’s version about 86 bazillion times (and counting), I knew how this film was both going to go AND going to end, and having also seen a hefty number of modern remakes of other horror classics in the last decade (I consider this a remake, by the way, even though it would rather I consider it a prequel), I knew better than to expect it to have a decent story-to-CGI ratio.  But at the same time, it was going to be about Norwegians (which: I am one), set in the snowy nowhere (which: I love movies set there), and feature a strong female lead (which: she better not fall in love with anyone).  So, as soon as I had a free afternoon, I hit the theater.

As predicted, this film is way too heavy on the special effects, and not nearly heavy enough on character development or well-written dialogue.  But honestly, that’s expecting way too much these days from a big picture, and I know it.  I did find the gory monster effects obnoxiously over the top, especially at first — will we never learn that less is more scary than more? — but I will say there was one creature toward the end that I thought was fantastically designed (for those who have seen it, I’m talking about the double-headed, crawling-upside-down dude(s)).  So, points for grody creativity, at least.

The story you know already if you’re at all familiar with the original film(s) — a team of Norwegian scientists at the South Pole come across a distress signal and dig down to discover a buried space ship and an alien frozen solid in a block of ice.  Not sure what to do about it, they get a Norwegian anthropology expert (Dr. Halvorson) to put together a team, including a young American woman (Dr. Kate Lloyd) who specializes in frozen-intact extinct beings, and come down to the station, extract the creature, and study it.

Obviously, this plan doesn’t go quite as intended, and instead of being dead inside the ice, as expected (by them, not by us), as soon as nobody’s lookin’ and the creature’s had a little time to thaw, it comes to life and begins to kill the Vikings off one by one.  If you’ve seen the Russell version of The Thing, you already know ain’t nobody surviving this — that version begins with the last two Norwegians in a helicopter chasing a dog across the snow, trying to shoot it before it gets to the American base and crashing before they can nail it.  But who makes it out (however temporarily) and how is what you await discovery of from the edge of your seat.

Overall, it’s not a bad movie.  It’s overdone and it’s predictable (not just the story, but also the personality clashes between Dr. H (brash, bossy — he’s essentially the Mayor of Amity with a PhD) and Dr. L (smarter, more cautious, luciously-lipped)), but I liked the characters in general (especially the beefy, bearded, flannel-wearing Norwegians, hubba hubba), and the film is made well in terms of visuals too.  I was definitely entertained, and at times I was even in an anxious state of mechanical popcorn-eating (a good state to be in when seeing a scary movie, though more satisfying for the brain than the belly, I must confess).

Also:  no stupid kissing scenes, no stupid running-with-big-boobs-and-no-bra scenes, no stupid naked-in-the-shower scenes, and noooooo Wilford Brimley (although, on that latter one: alas).

If you’ve been wary of seeing this because you’re a fan of either of its two predecessors (I confess I’ve never seen the original and really, really want to now), I think you should probably give it a shot.  But if you have no strong feelings about this tale one way or another, and certainly if you’ve never seen the Russell version, this is one to skip.  At least until it’s out on DVD.

[Prequeue it at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Science Fiction, Aliens
Cast:  Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Jonathan Walker

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3 Responses to “MOVIE: The Thing (2011)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Meg, you should really see the original. Except for being set in a scientific/observation station in Alaska, and having an extra-terrestrial “monster” running around, I could find no other similarity with the Kurt Russell “re-make.” It was a pretty good movie – but, re-make? I don’t think so. James Arness (from “Gunsmoke”) played the ” original monster,” and the film is pretty dated. But I find it interesting for just that reason – it’s a product of it’s time – and not a bad story! I think you’d find it interesting for its own sake, and comparing the two might be interesting, too.

  2. Rob Doyle Says:

    I am a big fan of the Kurt Russell version, and do you remember the 1950’s version where the alien was plant life. All good!
    I have not seen this new version yet, but want to. The concept of a movie about the Norwegians story is very interesting and will fill in the gaps of the story.
    There wasn’t a great deal of hype about the movie though, but I don’t suppose it will be anything too unique.

  3. Fanboy Says:

    Thought that the prequel was very creepy and quite superb. The Kurt Russell version is my favourite by far. The Black and white version is one you will certainly enjoy. But! Please for heavens sake get hold of the original book “Who goes there?” as i guarantee it’s one book you will not put down.

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