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02 May 2012

Movie Review: The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011)
Genre: Sci Fi, Action, Thriller
Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Written by: Eric Heisserer
Starring:  Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Eric Christian Olsen
Release date: October 14, 2011


Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew's pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish. The Thing serves as a prelude to John Carpenter's classic 1982 film of the same name.


By now you have guessed that I am a fan of horror films, thrillers, action flicks, and movies so bad they're funny. Even though The Thing didn't look particularly good, I decided to give it a try since a had a free Redbox coupon.  The Thing falls into the very specific but somewhat popular category of cult classics that probably shouldn't be remade but Hollywod has run out of ideas so let's do it. In case you didn't know, The Thing was originally made in 1982 and was directed by John Carpenter and starred a young Kurt Russell. To tell you the truth, I am not the biggest fan of the original. I mean, it's fun and creepy but it's not my favorite. It does have quite a large cult following though and an interesting story, which made it ripe for a remake. In this version, they've cast Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as the scientist hired to unearth the alien body and Joel Edgerton (Warrior) as the crew's pilot.

The film starts off much the same as the original, with the discovery of a mysterious and possibly alien body frozen in Antarctica. A team of scientists is called out to the dig and they soon find that the alien isn't really dead and that it can replicate, or clone, the cells of the humans it touches. Suspicions arise as the team tries to figure out which one of them is the alien and to prevent it from escaping their compound and into a more populated area.

I really don't have anything profound to say about the film. It was entertaining and I enjoyed all of the actors. I think it would have been scarier if I had seen it in the theater. The vast emptiness of Antarctica and the feeling of isolation didn't translate as well sitting in my apt with all of its normal distractions. I think one of the noticeable differences in this film from the original (according to my memory) is the special effects. The original was made in the 80s when special effects technology was very different so you get a totally different look and feel for the gore of the film. In the the remake, the special effects are much more involved and pretty gross at times. There is some body/skin melding going on that was pretty cool looking and entrails, lots of entrails.

If you've seen the original, the plot won't really hold any surprises. There a twist (isn't there always now) that was a bit predictable. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is believable as the young scientist who figures out what the creature is up to. I've had a soft spot for her ever since she played Bruce Willis' daughter in Live Free or Die Hard. Ulrich Thomsen is perfect as the ambitious and slightly shady Dr. Halvorson. There was also a large cast of Norwegians playing the crew in the film. My favorite was Stig Henrik Hoff who played Peder, the quiet one with a flamethrower. :) And Joel Edgerton was perfectly fine as the American who helps Winstead fight the aliens.

I think that's my problem with the movie. It wasn't bad but it wasn't particularly good either. It's one of those films that I watched and now can't really remember much of. It didn't add anything to the original but it didn't really take anything away either. That's the thing with these remakes - they rarely add anything to what's already been made and often they're worse than the original. In this case, I don't think that happened. It's a fine movie if you're in the mood for a little bit of horror and thrills. Certainly it won't make my top ten of the year but I was entertained for a couple of hours. I know that's not a ringing endorsement but that's the only way to explain how I feel. If you're a huge fan of the original, I'd say skip it, because this will probably just annoy you. If however, you want something fun and gory for a night of mindless movie watching, you may enjoy this remake of The Thing. :)

Note: After finding the synopsis for this review I realized that this film is supposed to be a prequel to the original, not a remake. Yeah, I am not sure that comes across in the movie. Maybe it's just me, though. 

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