The Thing 2011 Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins Rating: R Release Date: October 14, 2011
PLOT: At an Antarctica research site, people discover an alien craft. This leads to Kate Lloyd (Winstead) believing there could be an alien amongst them.
WHO'S IT FOR? This is meant to serve as a prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, so if you must see any and all horror flicks, this one is for you.
EXPECTATIONS: I know this is wrong to say, but I could see how John Carpenter's The Thing could have been better. I don't know if this is the one to prove it, but I was curious. Having Edgerton (Warrior) along for the ride helps.
Here's the thing about The Thing; there were already a couple of Things. First there was the 1951 movie called The Thing From Another World. Then there was the remake (pretty much) John Carpenter's The Thing, and yes you must refer to it by its full name. Now comes this thing. This Thing is a prequel. Now, if you are familiar with the Kurt Russell joint from 1982, have you been desperate to know what happened before the dog is running away from the helicopter? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it means you're going in fresh to this Thing. That's fine. I'm not calling movie foul on you for that. I've done it myself from time to time. Not this time though. I rewatched John Carpenter's The Thing about three weeks ago. What makes John Carpenter's The Thing is the isolation and the desolation. I was ready to see if this one could capture that, and potentially more.
Kurt Russell, we have paleontologist Kate (Winstead). Unfortunately Winstead brings emotionless dead eyes to this film, until she eventually gets an angry face. There's nothing about Kate to root for. Sure, we only had the swagger of R.J. MacReady (Russell) in the first, but that was a lot of swagger. Kate is immediately dropped into an overwhelming situation; the discovery of an alien ship that crashed in Antarctica. We meet a variety of other characters like Ulrich Thomsen as Dr. Sander Halvorson and Eric Christian Olsen as Adam Goodman. Both are excited about the possibility of alien life forms, so that means taking insanely huge risks that eventually backfire. Joel Edgerton shows up as Sam Carter. Besides his hoop earring, he's just an average Joe, and this film needed a jolt of something a lot more than average.
We the audience, and Kate, realize that trouble is a foot, but no one else does. So, we must wait for every other character to realize there's danger. This waiting is annoying, especially since there is nothing truly scary going on. The reveal has some interesting moments, but then you realize it all feels very familiar. This is the same pattern as John Carpenter's The Thing. There's a sudden revelation, which makes all of the characters realize they are in danger. There's the testing to see if any aliens are amongst us. There's even a shocking cold-blooded death. This isn't prequel, it's a premake, or a requel. Let's go with requel. It's the same pattern, different characters.
The science fiction in The Thing is more about the reveal than creating scares in this "horror." There is one thing that The Thing steps up a notch from its predecessors, and that's the special effects. Yes, this awful looking, mangled alien does have the benefit of advances in CGI special effects, but they're CGI. And they lack scares. I was never nervous. Instead, I was thinking things like, "Cool, two heads are better than one." That's partly the fault of the script, and partly the fault of the characters these actors breath to life.
When the third act finally arrives, I was surprised some characters were still alive, almost bothered by the fact that we'd have to spend time watching them die as well. The isolation and desolation of John Carpenter's The Thing don't hold up in this prequel. I saw the frigid temperatures, but never felt it. So, I'm giving this The Thing the cold shoulder.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10