John’s Horror Corner: The Thing (2011)…that shouldn’t have been remade
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 1982 original, I give it a B/B-. I won’t lie, though. While entertained, I was disappointed.
WARNING: 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. Watching this prequel first may completely ruin a much better movie for you altogether. Don’t tell yourself that a 1982 movie couldn’t possibly entertain you as much as a 2011 movie. It may be hard to believe, but you’d be wrong.
We’ll start by ignoring the AMAZING quality of the 1982 predecessor…
So some scientists find a block of ice with some “thing” in it.
They thaw it out and…
Hey, wait a minute! Does this feel familiar?
Yes! Yes it does. This scene happened in 1982!
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. They added a chick scientist to the mix, too: Scream Queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). But that didn’t imrove things for me either. I think the problem was that there was not enough nerve-wracking suspense and the dialogue was uncompelling. The suspense SHOULD make me wonder what will happen to you characters. 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 1982 original and even find themselves in scenes that are obviously modeled, honestly more blatantly remade, from the original.
Kurt Russell, a red-bearded fellow and another ginger scientist in 1982.
Joel Edgerton with his red-bearded Norseman and ginger scientist in 2011.
Russell’s MacCready and close ally in 1982.
MacCready look-alike Edgerton and his bestie in 2011.
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 1982 original. It didn’t rely on action. It was suspense-driven. When action did show its face the monstrous 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.
This movie attempted to ruin breasts for me.
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 in the 2011 installment. I really never had that classic The Thing mood during this new one. Even the scene where they try to “test” who’s infected lacks intensity. When I watch the original, I FEEL it!
Not feelin’ it, 2011.
Totally feelin’ it, 1982! Kurt Russell for President 2016!
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 1982 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.
I realize this sounds like a muck-raking convention. It’s just hard to say anything positive other than “the effects were great and the gore was a lot of fun”. I enjoyed it. I REALLY did. I’ll even buy it…but I’ll always call it the red-headed stepchild of the 1982 sequel, which oozed eerie mood and intensity.
One final note: I would advise that no one ever see the “true” original The Thing from Another World (1951). It would only disappoint.