Whenever a film bounces around a studio's release slate, most of us assume the worst. But sometimes a movie is just difficult to schedule - especially when it's a prequel for a movie that, while beloved now, was a box-office flop twenty-nine years ago.
I have no idea what to expect from THE THING '11. Judging from the trailer, Matthijs van Heijiningen Jr.'s film looks like a straight-up replay of Carpenter's 1982 remake, which... okay. I've been hearing lots of chatter around town about THE THING '11 for months now, but nothing first-hand from someone who's actually seen the movie. This is why I was very interested to read the below review from Turk February (who last sent us an early look at BATTLE LOS ANGELES in July 2010 - he liked it). All rumors aside, is this THING any good?
It's important to remember that the film is still a couple of months away from release, so there might've been some unfinished elements. They also might have different endings they're testing. No idea. But for the most part, what Turk February saw last night is pretty much the movie we'll be seeing in theaters on October 14th. Let's see what he thought...
Apparently 2011 is the year of the prequel. Both X-men First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes happened to be two of my favorite films this year and while The Thing (2011) is not going to share that title with X-men and Apes I am happy to report that it is, however, another well made, competent prequel.
There’s really no reason for me to go into too much plot detail as at this point as everyone know The Thing ’11 starts off days before the events of The Thing ’82 and we find out what exactly happened at the Norwegian research facility. We see the research team make the discovery of the alien ship and its former inhabitant. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty much our lead brought in as a paleontologist to excavate the alien from the ice. Its once the frozen alien is brought back to the facility that all hell breaks loose and just as we saw in The Thing ’82 terror, suspicion and paranoia takes hold of the researchers at the base.
Perhaps that’s going to be some folks biggest gripe with The Thing ’11. Its basically a cover of one of your favorite songs from one of your favorite bands. It hits every beat and every note as it should but doesn’t really add anything new or different to deem it necessary or distinguishable. Yes we are seeing different characters at a different location but we’re essentially seeing the same events unfold not only that but events that we’re discovered and alluded to off screen in The Thing ’82. Part of what made Thing ’82 scary and enduring was the air of mystery surrounding the discovery of the charred Norwegian base and not knowing what exactly happened there. The Thing ’11 now gives us the horrifying details without stepping on the toes of the ’82 film. Even though we are finding out specifics, and lovers of Thing ‘82 film may not want to, its not taking away any of that air of mystery from Carpenters film.
With all that said The Thing ’11 works both on its own and as a prequel. It starts at a brisk pace and doesn’t let up. Like I said earlier it knows the notes and beats and hits them when its supposed to – the scares, the gore, tension, suspicion, paranoia – all there. The tone, look and feel is definitely Carpenter-esque. I don’t know if the score was finished but pieces of the 82 score bookended this one which lead perfectly into the end credits sequence tying the two films together.
Some of the effects work looked like they needed that final polish but the creature was as disgustingly terrifying as it was back in 82 only able to do more now, obviously, via CGI.
My only minor nitpicks would be the over explanation of some plot elements (the discovery that the creature replicates stands out – I realize that not everyone has seen the 82 film but I think enough people know of that part of the movie or could figure it out without it being spelled out) and something all prequels/reboots are guilty of – winks and nods to the original. The winks and nods in Thing ’11 weren’t over the top but we get it already, we’re seeing this incarnation because we appreciated the original. We don’t need to collectively say to ourselves “Oh that’s the dog”, etc.
Overall I would recommend Thing ’11 to newcomers and fans of the Carpenter film alike. The audience I saw it with certainly enjoyed it and jumped and cringed at all the right moments. To those doubting the necessity of taking this trip back to Antarctica I say take it, sure you’ll see some things you’ve seen before but you will still enjoy the ride.