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.

4 comments:

  1. At your prompting, I finally got around to watching this and writing up my own thoughts.

    I pretty much agree with all the points you make, with the exception being about the creature FX - which are actually for the most part pretty good largely because they eschew CGI on the whole and mainly use it to enhance some great practical/animatronic model work very much in the spirit of the 1982 film.

    Otherwise, as you say it's very peculiar how a cast and crew so obviously adoring of Carpenter's work can have thought this prequel was worth the time and money.

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    1. Did you notice some scenes were too dark on the Blu-ray disc transfer, too? I was streaming the movie in HD via Zune on Xbox LIVE, but the settings are optimised for movie sources.

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  2. Can't say I noticed the Blu-ray being uncomfortably dark at any point. The balance seemed fine for me. Unlike, for example, the Alien v Predator films. Especially the second - Requiem - which seemed to have whole sequences in a total blackout perhaps to same money on the FX!

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    1. After further investigation 'Colour Space' is broken in the last Xbox 360 Dashboard update and this has a deleterious affect on film and television content!

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