Ed reviews 'The Thing'

Mary Elizabeth Winstead takes on a deadly alien creature in the sci-fi thriller. Submitted photo.

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

(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.


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