Monday, October 24, 2011

The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011) – 103min – R

I’m a big fan of John Carpeneter’s The Thing (1982). A friend introduced it to me and we watched it on TV. It was the first time I noticed how badly swear words were dubbed on network TV. “FRY YOU, PALMER” became our inside joke. The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 movie of the same name. That’s not going to get confusing at all. It was going to be a remake but the studio said no, you can’t touch this classic. So the next best thing is to do a prequel. This movie brings us the events that led up to the classic film. It was a poor effort and fell short on a few important points. I give it a red light.

The prequel’s story starts out with Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) recruiting Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winsted), a Columbia graduate, to come to Antarctica and work on a discovery. They tell her nothing except that it’s big and they need an answer right now. A friend of hers, Adam (Eric Christian Olsen), is the doctor’s research assistant and says it’s going to be a chance of a lifetime. She agrees to join them and they take her along. They are flown to the camp by Sam (Joel Edgerton) and Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). They land at camp and immediately go to the crash site and pull an alien up from the ice. That synopsis is the end of the original content, sorry for ruining it. The move from this point on is a rehash of the original. It is really a shame that the advancement in effects technology was not better used. The flaws with this move were neither in the performances nor the concept. It was the complete lack of originality. One of the best aspects of the original was the tension in the distrust that all of the characters had. The development of the tension was much better done.

The writer (Eric Heisserer) has done another remake: A Nightmare on Elm Street and a sequel: Final Destination 5. His body of work consists of rehashed ideas. He needs to break away from the stories that may have influenced him in his youth and do something completely original. To provide you a contrast to a good retelling or a new take on the original story listen to this podcast on escape pod. The Things by Peter Watts. This story takes the original in a much better direction than the prequel did. The director (Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.) is also a new player to the industry with very few credits to his name. His attention to detail was sometimes good, but you can see his inexperience in the lack of story development and tired dedication to the jump out and scare you tactics in his film.

Spoiler Warning!!! Humans only beyond this point!!!

I am really just covering these up out of habit; there are no new ideas here and nothing to spoil.

My main continuity gripes from one movie to another are the lack of consistence with the events that happened at the Norwegians base camp. There were some really good details like the axe in the door, the suicide victim frozen. All of those were good. The style of technology on the ship exterior was also done well. It’s a shame that they did not match the body of the merged alien from the original to the body that was made by CGI Effects. Both had two faces in mid merge but why not seamlessly make those faces match from the original to the prequel. Also the block of Ice in the original was defiantly sections out to be put together, why not work in a reason why it looks like that in the prequel.

The prequel also pulled some elements from Alien. This movie has a female character that battles the monster by herself and is stranded, admittedly not in space but in the middle of Antarctica, but makes it out alive. I am guessing that this is from the writers past influences and wants to meld them together. I really hope they stop doing rehashes and start on something original.

I also hated the way that Kate was treated by the doctor, it got to me. Perhaps they put that into the story because it was to make the audience care for her more, I don’t know it just seemed out of place for this kind of movie, the tension should come from humans verses aliens, not a human power struggle.

What movies in your opinion have defined a genre? The Thing (1982), I think, set a standard for horror. What do you think?

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