Like so many, I was incredibly worried two years ago when Universal announced that a new “The Thing” project was in the works, rumours of it becoming the third re-make, a prequel, and a sequel were all banded about. Finally after much speculation The Thing has finally landed so what is it? And does it add up to the previous incarnation?
In Antarctica a scientific research station’s crew while out on a routine snow plough drive uncover a space ship thousands of feet below the surface of the ice, after picking up a distress/mayday signal, the vessel they believe may have been below the ice for as long as ten thousand years. Calling in the experts, which include Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), they uncover what they believe to be the corpse of the vessels only crew member a horribly disfigured creature. Soon however the group discover that the creature is by no means dead, and not only does it have the ability to survive, but also the ability to live forever through cloning whatever it can spread too. In the loneliest place on earth a small team battle to contain the creature, and prevent it from spreading across the rest of the world.
I’ll begin to say that despite the criticism and abuse The Thing gets, mainly from purists who seem to think John Carpenter’s 80’s vision was the original, this is not a bad movie. It’s no better or worse that John Carpenter’s movie, which was the second screen adaptation of this story; what it fails to do however, and in a very big way is bring anything new to the table. Essentially 30 years on, and the 2011 adaptation of The Thing, has moved in no way or shape at all, so why the remake?
Quite early on the character of Kate is listening to a fairly classic piece of 70’s pop, which kind of sticks in your head; and this piece of music is incredibly important, because despite the speculation The Things creators have never come out and said this is a remake, retelling, prequel, or sequel. It’s when you get to Antarctica, and more specifically the room in which The Thing is kept, having been dug up, that you realise the movie is very much a prequel. This is confirmed for definite in the movies closing scenes in which the movie blends into Carpenter’s vision, which includes Carpenter’s legendary score.
The story follows a similar series of incidents that occur in Carpenters movie, but not too directly, each incarnation of the movie has been about who you trust, and who you don’t; as the creature clones its way through the team, and then there is the aspect of how you tell who is a clone, and who is not. Scientifically, this version puts a little more thought into how you tell who is who, in fact its high on the agenda, obviously not wanting to follow Carpenter’s route of fire causing the creature to reveal itself.
The biggest failing in the movie is the CGI, back in Carpenter’s day the effects were generated via models and make up, in 2011 models have gone out the window and replaced with CGI, but it’s more of a cut rate CGI than perhaps everyone would like.
On the whole the movie does have a place in today’s cinema, while many criticize it, I think most will agree it’s far better than anyone expected. Most importantly for anyone who is too young to appreciate 80’s movies now deemed by many of today’s young audience as being “old”; it might just create that link, that shows those more narrow minded movie fans, that while age may be a factor, effects certainly are not, if they liked this movie they have a ready made sequel, which could well take them on a journey that gives them a wider appreciation of horror.