Monday, March 5, 2012

Thing, The (2011) - 3.5/5

Cult fans around the world hold John Carpenter's "The Thing" in very high regard. We feel the same here at Blood Brothers (hell, its my brother Eric's favorite film of all time) and to be perfectly honest, we also felt the same way as the majority of fans about the fact that it was being remade...err...getting a prequel. It's pretty hard to prefect perfection, right? Why even bother? It can't possibly even touch the original one. So watching this horribly titled premake came with a cautionary stance and it doesn't even come close to the brilliance of John Carpenter's film. BUT...that doesn't stop "The Thing" from accomplishing enough to make it a decent film despite the comparisons.

When a Norwegian group of scientists in Antarctica discover a vessel buried under the ice and a creature along with it, they enlist the help of Kate Lloyd (Winstead) to excavate it and study it. Unfortunately, their good fortunes turn bad when this "thing" from the ice decides it doesn't like being left in an ice cube and breaks out. As it would happen to be, this "thing" has the ability to copy organic things and replicate them. Now the team is unsure of who (or what) may be hiding amongst them. All they know is that they have to kill it before it makes its way to mass society.

It's obvious fans of the 1982 film didn't like this one. All I heard from friends and colleagues is that "it sucks", "why did they use CGI?", or my favorite "no redeemable qualities". It was when my brother, whose favorite film of all time is the 1982 original, claimed it to be a decent film that earns its own way that I swallowed my pride and took the dive.

It's understandable why fans didn't like it. I agree with them on many points. The plot is just a little bit too similar and falls into a formulaic progression. The cast is hit or miss. The CGI is overwhelming when it comes to the monsters. These are all elements that people constantly compare to the original. Maybe its just the contextual analysis speaking, but I didn't expect it to even come close. Of course, there is CGI. No modern film company would green-light a horror film with that much expensive special effects anymore...not unless its pulling some serious cash in at theaters and the CGI is not horrible by any means. Of course, it has a similar plot. The film makers wanted to homage the original one by giving us different but similar situations and although some are a bit of a reach (the grenades for example) they worked for getting the point across. Of course, the cast is weaker. Who's more badass than Kurt Russell? It's not Winstead as she has trouble pulling off being all that tough, but its a different angle that is appreciated. I agree that these are things that hurt this film in the end, but not enough for it to be without any redeemable qualities.

"The Thing" might be a bit underwhelming in many of the aspects that people desperately wanted to see from it, but it does do one thing right. The details. In the 1982, "The Thing" we are shown the aftermath of the Norwegian camp the a handful of things that made us go 'what the fuck happened here?!'. This 2011 prequel, pays very close attention to the details. How the room looked when the alien escaped. Where the bodies of the scientists were and the details of how they died. The ax in the wall. It's astonishing at how much the filmmakers cared about these details and its these things that impressed me the most to add another full point onto the film.

If you are a fan of John Carpenter's fusion of horror and science fiction masterpiece, go into this looking at it as a companion piece. It doesn't touch the original one, but few films have in the 30 years since it came out. Take it for what it is, have fun with it, and enjoy it for what it does well and the elements they pulled off. It was a daunting task to make a prequel to such a highly regarded film and "The Thing" comes off a nice little prologue. Color me the black sheep on this one, but I enjoyed it quite a bit for what it was.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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