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The Thing (2011) Review

To prepare for The Thing prequel, I re-watched John Carpenter’s The Thing to refresh my memory of this 1980’s horror masterpiece. The original is filled with practical horror elements that feel organic and an eerie ambiance that keeps you guessing throughout the film. With the new version of The Thing we have a movie that doesn’t look to remake to the original but instead serves as a prequel meant to exude the original’s atmosphere with an infusion of modern-day flare. Whether 2011’s The Thing actually holds up to the original’s charm is a highly contested fact that is being disputed on message boards across the net.

It is difficult to judge this version of The Thing without taking the original into consideration, but I tried my best to keep an open mind throughout the film. This was definitely the best route to take as there’s a lot of this movie that echoes the original while also expanding on a few of the ideas that were first presented a couple of decades ago. The movie takes place a few days prior to the events of the older film and features the group of Norwegian scientists that are showcased in the first scene of original. At this point, Americans are flown in so that the Norwegians can presumably stop using subtitles, otherwise I personally can’t see any reason why their “expertise” was needed. From that point forward, the story follows many of the beats that were featured in the original.

While this can seem damning to some, I do feel that the movie took some turns that were unexpected and helped flesh out the story behind the first movie. For example, there’s a scene that is a lot like the original where the crew is forced to doubt who may be taken over by the alien and who is human. It begins with blood samples being taken (just like in the original) but the movie quickly eliminates this route and relies instead on the idea that the organism can not replicate non organic material. While not as tension packed as the original’s hot coil scene, this take allows for almost the same feel with an interesting twist that deviates from the original.

Without a doubt, the original’s strengths lie in not fully explaining what is going on and allowing the viewer to slowly decipher what they’re presented with. What the new movie does instead is rely a lot on telling the audience what is going on and the mythos behind the situations rather than allowing them to think it out on their own. This underestimation of the audience is what you’ll see with a lot of modern day films and what I feel is the weakest part of the new The Thing overall. I can respect the choice to not alienate audiences with the silence found throughout the original, but the dumbing down through over explanation is a route I would not have taken.

As for the creatures themselves, they’re predominately CGI effects with little of the character attained from the original movie’s practical effects. I’d be remiss if I did not mention how well some of the creature designs were implemented but there were quite a few that seemed like masses of tentacles, flesh, and gore instead of memorable monsters. I spent a lot of the movie hoping to see a new take on the iconic head crawling sequence from the original but instead mostly saw creatures with parts that were cut and pasted from the original’s cast of baddies.

I think what a lot of the criticism of the movie comes from is the knowledge of what the original was and what it provided for horror films general upon its release. It is now years later and you have to respect the choices that were made with this movie when it came to plot progression and the usage of CGI instead of practical effects. This production was quite the undertaking and took great effort to create a film that works as an homage to the original but also retain a bit of its own character. Regardless of the complaints from fans and critics, this is a movie that does a fairly good job with what it’s given and provides a ride that’s well worth the price of admission.

Rich’s Recommended Viewing: Opening Weekend – At The Theater – Rent ItWatch It On CableStay Away! – 4/5

Yes, the Thing provides an experience that is meant for a mass audience rather than the slow burn that is found in the original but this shouldn’t be held against it. The movie grips the viewer from the very beginning and takes them on a ride that separates itself from the original movie while emulating many of the characteristics that many of the fans gravitating to. While not complete fanservice, there is a lot here that fills in the blanks left by the original including small facts like who was on that Norwegian helicopter at the beginning of the first movie. If taken on its own, you have a story that is fairly creepy that is equal parts suspenseful and action-packed, you can’t really ask much more from a horror film.

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  • vesey

    The trouble with prequels is obvious and i won’t belabor the point. What would be nice would be to see some courage shown by Hollywood by NOT having the gun carrying, bossy, flame thrower toting macho woman. It really is ok for women to be something other than men with breasts as Hollywood seems determined to portray in all sci fi/horror films these days…………..

  • Zoey

    As a huge fan of the original (actually the ’82 version)  I was worried this film just wouldnt be as good and basically would be a feeble imitation. When I saw the young 20-something female lead, I was certain it was doomed. But, the movie did a very good job at setting up the prequel. The Norwegian camp- burned and destroyed when we first saw it in ’82- looked great, restored; the look of the saucer, and indeed the overall feel all flowed pretty well into Carpenter’s version. While many people complained that Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was a “bossy, gun-toting” rip off of Ripley (from ALIEN), I didnt really see that. From the outset, she was the graduate student and out of her depth until the Thing broke out of the ice and began to slaugher everyone. Overall, it fits well into the story as we’ve seen it up till now.

    At one point the creature escapes the Norwegians and makes it back to the saucer. The saucer begins to take off….is the Thing the pilot, or more likely assimilated the abilities of the original crew. And what was the Earth like when they all originally crashed?

    Good movie, I would give it a “B”.

    • Joeruck1

      Thanks for the spoiler JACKASS!! you didn’t have to mention the alien making it to the saucer, would’ve like to have seen that without reading about it first!!

      • Zoey

        Didnt tell you how, when, or what happens when it gets back to the saucer, rude boy. You do realize this is a PREQUEL….there are a few things that had to happen and were shown before you get to the ’82 version?? Sorry.

        • Zoey

          Also….you can see in the trailer that they’re in the saucer.So I didnt really reveal anything that’s not there.

  • Richie

    Rich…Most excellent sharing of the movie..well done and thank you. I can tear the movie apart but then what am I getting in return? Here is a chance to take the movie in for what it is portraying: An intelligent life form landed or crashed onto the earth and we discover it. You can do thousands of variations of this very imaginative theme. I thouroughly enjoyed the latest entry on the subject matter. The Thing makes one have more questions than answers and that is exactly what I would expect from a good movie and an Alien visitor. I have so many observations..I will leave you with one of them…The Thing acts more like an animal via its behaviors than someone who constructed, flown, and landed space ship of that magnitude. Quite a bit going on here and room for lots of story telling…thank you

    • Zoey

      I would have to agree. I believe this Thing mimics and assimilates capabilities to a point, but for how long, who knows? Remember in the ’82 version, after it got Blair, it was making a mini-saucer underneath his shed? Mac and the others found it when they were looking for him. Maybe it HAS to spread in order to remain active, and once it can’t, it has to go into hibernation. Assume it wasnt the original pilot of the saucer, more likely was something they picked up thousands of years ago. It assimilated them but got trapped (if it escaped it would have taken over whatever animals were running around at the time….instead it stayed in the general vicinity of the crashed saucer).

      There’s enough questions and interest here to generate another movie.