The Thing. A 2011 prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter classic, The Thing. And before you ask, I have no idea why they couldn’t think of a new title. Considering this isn’t a reboot or an obvious remake, it just makes thing more annoying when you’re talking with people and you say “Oh I really love the Thing” “Oh Yeah, which one?” Obviously I’m talking about the 1982 version and to see my rather excitable review of The Thing. The Original Thing!! Click Here but to see my review of the Thing stay here and just keep reading. That would be the prequel I’m talking about now.
Now as I mentioned this is a sort of prequel to the classic 1982 John Carpenter film. In the original 1982 film, the inhabitants of an Arctic based science facility come across some Norwegians in a helicopter chasing a dog. But after the helicopter blows up in a freak accident, Kurt Russell his awesome hat and his team, go and investigate the Norwegians camp and at said camp discover multiple dead bodies, mysterious ice blocks and lots of evidence of bad weird things happening. Now, this prequel is essentially- what happened to the Norwegians when shit went bad? However, despite the 1982 Thing being kind of like a middle film, you never really ask the question, of what happened. Because the original hits the ground running and leaves it up to the audience to eventually figure out the beginning and then the ending to the film is left open, raising lots of little questions. These questions where tried to be answered with an Xbox/PS2 video game sequel that was a rubbish game, let alone a rubbish sequel. I also said that it is a kind of prequel to the Thing (1982) because it is clearly a prequel but during the opening and closing credits, credit is stated by saying, based on the book “Who Goes There” by John W. Campbell. This book is what both previous adaptations were based including, The Thing (1982) and The Thing from Another World (1951). So this is essentially the third adaptation of the same book, but taking heavily from the 1982 version.
Now to say this first, the acting is good. Featuring a mostly Norwegian/Swedish cast, which I liked because I was half expecting lots of Americans with accents when I first herd that a prequel was being released. However obviously, as I have often argued, wide American audiences have the big issue of reading subtitles, so to help un-alienate the audience, a group of Americans are brought to the camp, to help in some way, I can’t really remember why they are there exactly, other than to give the Norwegians an excuse to speak English. But this wasn’t terrible, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who plays the American) did a very good job and I was very impressed.
But one of my biggest problems with the film is the Special Effects. One of the many things I loved about The Thing (1982) was how all the special effects and alien effects were done using puppetry and animatronics and this made the original even more impressive. However this film is just drenched in computer driven special effects. But after I watched the film, I went straight for the Special Feattures and watched the Behind the Scenes, and they interview all of this special effects designers and they all talk about how John Carpenters The Thing really inspired them to do what they do and that The Thing was such a bench mark in modern Special Effects, and how they made loads of models and just used computer effects subtly. That is a joke. Yes the original film is a classic and a benchmark in modern Special Effects, but the part in which they said, CGI was used subtly. I spent the entire film not even realizing that models where used and thought that all the aliens and transmorphtations where Computer generated. So the special effects really bring this film down and end up looking like Xbox graphics and not big Sci-Fi movie graphics. Also, none of the Aliens in the film have that disgusting feel or realism, due to the special effects, and the final Alien looks more like Gary Oldman from Lost in Space than anything that came out of Carpenters film. The special effects thing is also made even worse towards the end of the film, once Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton head for the Aliens Ship. Okay, if the special effects aren’t top notch, don’t bring attention to them. It detracts from the viewing experience, which is sad because it suggests that cinema has almost moved backwards. As I would almost go so far to say that the Special Effects of 2011 The Thing are closer to those of Thing from another Planet. That came out almost 60 years ago!
Also this film never really seemed to take any risks. As I recall it’s only got a 15 certificate, whereas the original had an 18. That’s because when an alien in the original, burst open and used it’s own intestines to strangle a man and then crush that man’s head with his own skull, the camera didn’t move away or anything, the Original would grab you by the eyeballs and just not let go. But just as you see a man’s head crack open and veins burst out, the camera cuts away. It just didn’t shock me on even remotely the same level as the original. And it’s not because most of what happens in the 2011 version is stuff we’ve already seen, because the 1982 version just gets better and better with each viewing. But as soon as you change it just a little, it’s just not the same.
Another film you could compare it to would be, Alien Vs Predator. And we all know that’s not a good thing, but the final few acts of this film just seems so out of place and mental that it just reminded me wholly of that ridiculous Predator and Human vs Alien Queen ending. It just felt so rushed, I mean, the prequel does fit with the original, but only in the last 20 minutes or so do they start rushing this idea out. And as effective as the ending is, I don’t think it makes as much sense as the film makers want it to.
As far as prequels go to films I love, this isn’t half bad. But the thing with The Thing is: Video Game style special effects and the films incapability to take risks left me feeling a little disappointed.
In related news. I recently bought The Thing (1982) on Blu-Ray. My first experience with a Blu-Ray and it was phenomenal. Especially as I had only ever seen The Thing (1982) on a VHS that was getting over used by my 50+ uses of it. So to see it with that HD clarity and crisp picture was immense. There are about 3 main things that look great in HD – Landscapes, Fire and Blood and The Thing’s got em all. Highly Recommend it.