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 lead by Kurt Russel 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.