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Overall Rating
2.4

Awesome: 4.76%
Worth A Look: 7.14%
Average: 30.95%
Pretty Bad38.1%
Total Crap: 19.05%

4 reviews, 18 user ratings


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Thing, The (2011)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Turns out you really don't want to know what happened at the Norwegian camp"
2 stars

Give credit where itís due: "The Thing" is not a remake of John Carpenterís 1982 classic (or Christian Nybyís 1951 classic, for that matter, of which Carpenterís film was a remake).

It is, rather, a prequel to the 1982 film, exploring what happened at the doomed Norwegian camp in Antarctica that the Thing escaped from, at the beginning of the í82 film, en route to the American camp. I myself had been curious about what had gone down among the dead men. As it happens, the events at the Norwegian camp are pretty much the same as the events at the American camp. Aside from a new way to distinguish a real human from a person whoís been absorbed and imitated by the Thing, the new film doesnít come up with anything fresh. Itís like the Star Wars prequels: Fan-fiction speculation over the years has probably been more inventive than what has now been presented to us as official Thing canon.

The major difference here, of course, is that the various permutations and transformations of the Thing carry the telltale sheen of CGI, whereas Rob Bottinís revolutionary latex work in the 1982 film always occupied real physical space, giving the actors something to react to and interact with. Reportedly, the new film once sought to follow in Bottinís footsteps with entirely practical effects, but the dailies apparently disappointed, and the studio ordered up digital enhancements. Whatís left of the real-world sculpting of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. looks appropriately savage and surreal, but the result of the tweaking is that the Thing can now move more quickly and fluidly, and can do things it somehow canít do later on, in the 1982 film.

Of course an American audience wouldnít be trusted to maintain interest in a Norwegian-camp prequel composed entirely of Norwegians speaking subtitled Norwegian. So we have four Americans, an Englishman, a French woman, and a bunch of indistinct Norwegians, most of whom obligingly speak fluent English. One of the Americans is Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a paleonthologist recruited to have a look at the Thing discovered buried in the ice. Winstead isnít a bad actress (she was a delight in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World), and at 26 she could plausibly be a college graduate and practicing scientist herself, but the problem is she doesnít look it. Like many another actress these days, she looks far younger than her years. She doesnít get to do much science-y stuff anyway, though she does figure out that the Thing canít replicate inorganic material, so anyone without fillings in his teeth is suspect. (Iím guessing she means it canít imitate anything bioinorganic, but the producers may have feared such a word would confuse the same stupes who were assumed to need Americans in a Norwegian story.) So we get several scenes with characters yelling at each other to open their mouths.

Look at the 1982 Thing again and you see a perfect thunderstorm of paranoia and suspense, brewed up by the clash of the cold front of director John Carpenterís cool-cucumber style (the camera almost never moves, and it stares objectively at the characters much as a Thing would) and the warm front of Rob Bottinís excitable-boy, sugar-fueled metamorphosis sequences, where chaos reigns. Director Matthijs van Heijningen, a fan of the Carpenter film, gets the externals but canít duplicate the authentic chill and isolation of the original. (In some scenes, too, the steam wafting out of charactersí mouths in the cold air seems real, while in others it seems digitally pasted in. Itís distracting.) He isnít free to bring anything of his own, either; heís got prequel-cuffs around his wrists, locked into the look of the í82 film, and its denouement, too. We know this film has to end with a Norwegian attempting to kill the Thing before it reaches another camp, and we assume everyone else will die.

They donít, though, and the door is left open for a sequel to this prequel: in addition to the Norwegian and American camps, thereís a Russian camp we hadnít previously heard about. How many damn countries have guys stationed out there in the snow, and what are they all studying?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=20976&reviewer=416
originally posted: 10/17/11 09:31:01
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User Comments

3/21/13 Charles Tatum Should have worked, but I agree with others- CGI is terrible 2 stars
9/29/12 roscoe Fine, but no surprises and occassionally rips off Carpenter's superior film. 3 stars
9/14/12 Cordwainer Smith this movierelly gave the creeps. 5 stars
4/09/12 mr.mike Unneccesary prequel adds nothing to Carpenter's version. 3 stars
3/09/12 Gregory Scott not as creepy as the original 3 stars
2/17/12 gc Trys to be a prequel but more of a remake, with fake CGI...see the scarier original instead 2 stars
1/23/12 action movie fan rehash of 1982 film nothing new here good effects but deja vu 1982 film 3 stars
10/23/11 Jack Just awful. The filmakers don't have a clue. Great material. Boring Movie. 1 stars
10/22/11 Phasmos Nice try, but badly hampered by crappy CGI, lackluster dialogue and no real tension. 3 stars
10/22/11 Brian Great movie, completely surpassed my expectations!! goes with the 82 film perfectly 5 stars
10/21/11 Flipsider Boring, brainless remake. 1 stars
10/21/11 Ace-of-Stars Where's the movie that was supposed to be a "PREQUEL" to the 1982 version? This ain't it! 2 stars
10/21/11 Craig Best horror film since The Mist 4 stars
10/17/11 TheGrizzly Could have been better, but it wasn't. Uninspired and unimaginative, with a stupid monster. 3 stars
10/17/11 Quatermass You missed the entire point, but thta's typical 4 stars
10/16/11 carlos guzman SomeTHING was missing; alien not nearly as tactful & FX were better w/ latex 3 stars
10/15/11 erika good movie 4 stars
10/14/11 PAUL SHORTT RELIES ALMOST ENTIRELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS FOR THE FEW SCARES IT DOES HAVE 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Oct-2011 (R)
  DVD: 31-Jan-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Oct-2011
  DVD: 31-Jan-2012



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