Sunday 22 April 2012

Review: The Thing (2011)

Finally watched The Thing (2011) last night after eschewing the theatrical release last October. 120 Microsoft Points came in handy for this weekend's Reel Deal on Xbox LIVE!

Author John W. Campbell Jr's Who Goes There? has been the source for several classic science fiction adaptations. The Thing from Another World (1951), John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) and television's Doctor Who hasn't been shy with the Tom Baker serial Horror of Fang Rock (1977).

The Thing prequel/remake of a remake is an oddity! It's not entirely without merit and the production team holds John Carpenter's classic chiller with the utmost reverence; to the point of slavishly reprising scenes shot for shot; floating cameras are always welcome.

However, the titular shapeshifter has evidently escaped from Men in Black and brought facehuggers along for an Arctic adventure filled with generic scares. The overused CGI falls far short of Rob Bottin's artistry, oftentimes scenes are too dark to discern any action and the spaceship's interior is a Xeroxed copy of HR Giger's derelict ship from Alien (1979).

Aside from a director at the top of his game. John Carpenter's The Thing boasted a charismatic cast led by Kurt Russell in a career-defining role: beard + flamethrower = epic win.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the prequel's dry, paleontological, protagonist and the supporting cast deliver serviceable performances as they battle the alien threat with, you've guessed it, flamethrowers.

The Thing would've benefitted from some postmodern self-awareness as popularised by the mid 1990s slasher genre renaissance. What would Joss Whedon have done?

Unlike the upcoming Prometheus. The Thing prequel isn't at all ambitious and adds nothing to the canon, nor does it diminish it, which fans of John Carpenter's The Thing will be thankful for.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Star Wars IS art

In the Hoth seat. I've been asked to assist with lesson plans for a primary school in Essex! Star Wars is this term's theme from which lessons - traversing literacy, maths, music, art and drama - will be derived.

In view of my lifelong passion for art and Star Wars. This June I'll be undertaking an art of Star Wars class and have contacted various Lucasfilm artists for firsthand insights to share with the students.

Matt Busch (You Can Draw Star Wars) kindly shared the following anecdote:

"Star Wars IS art. In every sense of the word. As a kid, Star Wars really changed my life, and I attribute that to the world of Star Wars being this multi-faceted art project. Art has many facets beyond just drawing and paint. Music, books, movies are art-forms like anything else, and Star Wars seems to conquer all of them at the same time.

"When you watch one of the films and get a dose of the Star Wars experience, you're enjoying not just an artistic film, but an incredibly creative story, well-designed characters and environments that are out-of-this-world, all set to one of the most iconic music soundtracks every recorded. So I'll say it again. Star Wars IS art."

Social media can play an integral part in the success of a project such as this! Within minutes tweets can be replied to (or ignored) and connections made that have a profound effect on the outcome.

Currently, I'm sourcing LEGO Star Wars donations, which will be used at the primary school on an ongoing basis and have reached out to LEGO, itself, for help.

Going forward. I'll be corresponding with local media outlets in the hope that they will be interested in covering this story, and updating this blog with further developments.