Friday, October 14, 2011
Since the original (titled THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD) was released in 1951, and the John Carpenter version came out in 1982, it looks like we’re gonna get a remake of THE THING every 30 years. But wait, this new one isn’t supposed to be a remake – it’s a prequel to the ’82 one. However since it has the exact same narrative, I’m going to consider it a prequel and a remake.
Carpenter’s THE THING starred Kurt Russell and a great cast of character actors including Wilfred Brimley, Keith David, Richard Dysart, David Clennon, and T.K. Carter as a research team in the Antarctic who battle a shape-shifting alien that can assume the appearance of the people that it kills.
There was not a woman in the cast, barely any in the crew either, so the film makers rectify that this time out by having Mary Elizabeth Winstead take on the Russell protagonist part. Beat-by-beat, Carpenter’s film is recreated but with none of the mystery or claustrophobic edge.
Set in the days right before the events of the original (uh, original remake?), THE THING ’11 focuses on the Norwegian team that encountered the killer creature from outer space before it got to Russell’s crew.
Writers Eric Heisserer and Ronald D. Moore, who both separately have had their hands in several fanboy franchises like Star Trek, FINAL DESTINATION and the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET reboot, have obviously studied Carpenter’s film to an insane degree, attempting to make a movie that forms a strong connective tissue to the earlier work – one that ends exactly how the ’82 remake begins, and replicates many details – sets, wardrobe, lens flares, etc.
Unfortunately that framework does nothing to hide that this is a pointless rehash, typical of the quality of just about every other remakes of ‘70s and ‘80s horror flicks that have been hitting the multiplexes over the last decade.
Despite that her wide-eyed reaction shots fill the screen for most of the movie, Winstead (a North Carolina native) barely registers as the heroine of the piece. Ripley she ain’t. Winstead had a lot more magnetism in SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THEN UNIVERSE.
The supporting cast doesn’t fare much better, but Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, and especially Ulrich Thomsen as the Norwegian chief of alien research have some stand out moments with their stock characters.
Sure, this one’s special effects are better than Rob Bottin’s in Carpenter’s film, but nothing any more impressive than those on Falling Skies or any other T.V. sci-fi these days.
The aliens have some sort of large device or wall (not sure which) on their buried spaceship that looks like a giant glowing Tetris game. That at least gives us a tiny bit of TRON-like light in this tediously dark and murky monster movie.
As I've said before, sometimes the only good thing about a reboot, remake, prequel, or whatever you want to call this is that it calls attention to the original movie.
At least this retread suceeds in doing that.
Postnote: John Carpenter’s THE THING is available on Netflix Instant now so check it out if you haven’t seen it. It's definitely a better use of your time than this prequel/remake/whatever.