Paleontologist Kate Lloyd is invited by Dr. Sandor Halvorson to join his team who have found something extraordinary. Deep below the Arctic ice, they have found an alien spacecraft that has been there for perhaps 100,000 years. Not far from where the craft landed, they find the remains of the occupant. It's cut out of the ice and taken back to their camp but as the ice melts, the creature reanimates and not only begins to attack them but manages to infect them, with team members devolving into the alien creature. Written by
In 1982 John Carpenter released his groundbreaking sci-fi horror masterpiece, The Thing. It involved a group of scientists in Antarctica who must divert from their research to deal with a mysterious creature that has infiltrated their research center. It's a creature that kills off people and then copies them perfectly so as to blend in with everyone else before they attack again. The creature came from another research camp located miles from their own, a desolate and abandoned Norwegian camp. What exactly happened in that doomed research facility has long been a mystery. All we know is that it was a disaster and it where the entire problem began. 2011's The Thing attempts to resolve that mystery by telling the back story of the events which led up to John Carpenter's film. However, in its attempt to fill the gaps and resolve the ambiguities this version of The Thing, to put it bluntly, does a very poor job.
The Thing is technically a prequel, however, it is in many ways just a remake of the 1982 version. It follows the same basic storyline of researchers in Antarctica finding an alien and then being terrorized by said alien. Because of this, we know exactly how The Thing is going to unfold. It's not the film's fault, it's just a simple fact. This puts a major obligation on the shoulders of the film to be highly imaginative and original in its own way. Sadly, The Thing does not do this. It falls short of being a truly inspired retelling of the classic tale and it really gets to be nothing more than a straightforward horror story, and I use the term horror loosely. This version of The Thing possesses none of the raw terror that Carpenter's version elicits. It doesn't capture that same level of visceral suspense that leaves us on the edge of our seat every waking minute of the film. This version is congested with cheap jump scares and gross out moments that sicken more than frighten. What Carpenter did in 1982 just couldn't translate over to this new rendition as it disregards everything that makes the original The Thing such a masterpiece.
I really try to judge films based on themselves alone. I try not to critique films based on other films as I feel like every film deserves to be judged individually. But when you have a film that is more or less purposely identical to its predecessor there's no other way to do it. As is the case with The Thing. I have to compare every element of this new version with the 1982 version and it clearly highlights all the flaws with this new version.
However, the one region where I thought the 2011 version could really surpass the original would be in the visual effects department. And oh how wrong I was. The creature design in The Thing is excellent, I can give it that. There are some very well designed monsters. Unfortunately, it is the CGI renderings of these wicked monsters that lets the design down. There is just something about the CGI in this film that just simply isn't good. It looks fake, it looks cheap, and it looks sloppy. If anything, it makes me appreciate the stop motion effects of the 1982 version so much more. I still have vivid images of the disgusting creatures from the 1982 The Thing, but I'm sure I will quickly forget the underwhelming designs of this new version.
It's sad to see a prequel to one of the greatest films of the 80's go down in flames. Overall, as a film on its own, The Thing isn't terrible, but it isn't very good either. It didn't amaze me and it didn't do any of the things that a good horror film should. But when you compare it to the 1982 version it is a very bad film. It simply gets everything wrong that Carpenter's version got oh so right. Watching The Thing doesn't make you sick to your stomach its so bad, but it severely underwhelms you and has nowhere near the same affect as Carpenter's immaculate version. 2011's version of The Thing won't be remembered and people certainly won't be talking about it 20 years down the line. That role is reserved for John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece.
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