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The Thing (2011)

October 19, 2011

By John Leavengood

MY CALL:  This was a solidly entertaining, effects-driven sci-fi thriller/action movie.  I’ll certainly buy it on Blu-Ray.  But don’t think for a moment that it compares to the original.  When I try not to compare it to the original, I give it a B/B-.  I won’t lie, though.  While entertained, I was disappointed.  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  Please do not dare watch this until you’ve seen the original first.  FIRST!  I don’t care if this is a prequel.  The 1982 version still holds up strongly and Kurt Russell and the old gang deliver what no one in this new installment can.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  Duh, the 1982 The Thing every night forever.  Kurt Russell for President 2012!  TRAILER: click here.

We’ll start by ignoring the AMAZING quality of the 1982 predecessor.

This new movie was very entertaining and I really enjoyed the effects.  The Thing’s “thing” was reminiscent of a monster from the Resident Evil movies—in a good way.  It was fast, anime-tendril-rich, polymorphic, voracious and disgusting, all delivered with a CGI report card of straight A’s.  Fans of the macabre will adore the transformation scenes.  The big flaw was that I couldn’t have cared less about the characters.  I mean, Warrior’s Joel Edgerton should be easy to root for, and the director clearly tried to make him a Kurt Russell MacReady clone, yet I didn’t even care if he lived.  I think the problem was that there was not enough nerve-wracking suspense and the dialogue was uncompelling.  The suspense makes me wonder what will happen to you.  The quality of your lines decides whether or not I care what happens to you.

It may have been a prequel, but it masquerades as a remake.  The characters have different names, but many of them look stunningly similar to their doppelganger-counterparts in the original and even find themselves in scenes that are obviously modeled, honestly more blatantly remade, from the original.

I don’t mean to go all Jekyll and Hyde on you, but now let’s shift gears and bask in our beautiful memories of the original.  It didn’t rely on action.  It was suspense-driven.  When action did show its face the transformations were slow and horrific; difficult to watch for some, much like the transformations in An American Werewolf in London and In the Company of Wolves.  I can’t help but to wonder if the simplicity of CGI monster-action led to the director simply drop the ball on the suspense and terror.  I really never had that classic The Thing mood for the new one.  Even the scene where they try to “test” who’s infected lacks intensity.  When I watch the original, I feel it!  Remakes and prequels don’t have to match the style of the original, but they should bring something to the table to make it its own—like the switch from the suspense-driven Alien to the action-driven Aliens, very different, but they nailed it with each respective style.  This prequel didn’t nail it.  The effects were fun and Fangoria probably got a good article out of it, but don’t see this movie because you loved the original.  See it because you want to see the latest CGI-action sci-fi flick.

The most unfortunate thing about 2011’s The Thing was that this movie, as a prequel, ruins the 1982 sequel for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.  So many of the scenes use 1982’s playbook that you may immediately recognize them.  These two movies are meant to show us what happened at two different sites with two different sets of characters.  Yet, were it not for the last scene of the prequel and the first scene of the original/sequel, you’d never know this wasn’t just a modern reimagining.

Look, I give this a solid thumbs up for the price of admission.  But every thumb in the room down when compared to the 1982 The Thing.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2011 11:25 am

    My best advice… is to not expect it to be as good as, or even close to, John Carpenter’s film. To do so would leave you disappointed. And you’d be a fool. Nice review.

  2. October 21, 2011 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t expect much from this flick. I just hope I can have good time watching it. I’m just happy Joel Edgerton is in it. The dude is a great actor

    • johnleavengood permalink
      July 30, 2012 7:24 pm

      It seemed to me that the 2011 remake was like Aliens to Alien; an action and effects-driven flick following a suspence flick. Of course, 2011’s The Thing did not bring the same quality as Aliens did to Alien.

      • July 30, 2012 10:39 pm

        i agree. but hearing those two compared hurts my soul. Aliens furthered the series but the new Thing made everyone go “huh?”
        No more Thing for a while….

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