1.5 stars (out of five)
I'm not going to waste a lot of time on the 2011 adaptation of The Thing. It's like John Carpenter's 1982 version
1982 version(based on the 1938 novella Who
Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.), except everybody is tremendously
stupid, no one has a personality and most of the pale, bearded cast members look
interchangeable. Plus, the pacing is bad, the Antarctic setting appears too
warm and sunny, and the research station isn't nearly as claustrophobic.
Get the picture?
For you newcomers, the story deals with the discovery of an alien spaceship
frozen in the ice in Antarctica. A group of scientists bring the body of the
pilot into their small research station. Turns out it's alive, extremely
violent and can assume the appearance of other living creatures. Paranoia
sweeps the facility as they try to determine which of their lot is the alien
before it kills them all.
Don't bother with this movie. It's been done. Twice. And much better.
The first version, 1951's The Thing from
Another World, took significant liberties with the nature of the alien, but
remains a classic thriller regardless. John Carpenter's 1982 version, which
stuck more closely to the original novella, is the film this version copies.
Carpenter's tough-as-nails production delivers, with memorable characters,
extreme tension and truly disturbing visuals. Why watch a half-baked clone?
The filmmakers of the 2011 version have called it both a prequel and homage
to Carpenter's 1982 movie. As a prequel, it doesn't make sense. As an homage,
well ... a thank-you note would have sufficed.
Fans of the 1982 film may be curious, especially about the special
effects of the creature. They're gross as all get out and clearly based on the
'82 flick, with splitting heads, claws, oozy organs galore and a gaping maw
that looks like a vagina with teeth (I'm guessing someone from the FX crew has
major relationship problems). Sure, you can't take your eyes off the monster,
but the shock value of the Carpenter film isn't there. Again, we've seen it
before, and better.
The big cast includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Joel Edgerton (Warrior) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko from Lost). Winstead stands out because she's
a girl and she seems to be modeled after Ripley from Aliens. Akinnuoye-Agbaje stands out because of his race and because
he was Mr. Eko, damn it! Despite looking like Conan O'Brien's hunky brother,
Edgerton doesn't stand out. He's just another in a mob of pale-skinned, bearded
If you haven't seen the other versions of The Thing, do yourself a favor and check out those instead of this.
A needless remake shouldn't be your first exposure to this story. If you're a Thing veteran who feels like you've got
to check this out, I suggest you take a notepad and keep track of the
astoundingly stupid actions of the people in the research station. Keep track
of the stupid actions of the alien too, because it's not much smarter. Then,
after you've studied the computer-generated ickiness and escaped the theater,
you can argue with your friends over which character should be awarded the
Biggest Dumb Ass in Antarctica Award.
Better yet, just don't go.