johnlink ranks THE THING (2011)

From the time this movie first popped on my radar as a potential project it has had a series of ups-and-downs in my perception of its worth. And that was before I even watched it. My first reaction was negative. How could they remake one of the all time classic sci-fi/horror flicks? When I heard they were setting it in 1982 and doing it as a prequel, I was intrigued. It’s not a bad way to make the story work, I figured. Then it was mired in post-production with rumors of problems, and it came out in theaters to mostly negative feedback. I was disappointed by what I heard, and never watched it. But this prequel found me last night, and I decided to give it a shot despite some tremendously low expectations.

I watched THE THING (2011) on 9.24.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

For my article on the 1982 version, jump here.

This 2011 version, it seemed, was confused about what it wanted to be before the movie even started. The Universal logo pops up, and it is the old Universal logo of yore. I thought it was a pretty cool idea to revisit the old logo as a way to set that tone before the movie started. However, the next thing we see is the Morgan Creek logo. The very modern Morgan Creek logo. Then the movie starts, and we have special effects filled vistas right from the get-go. Thirty seconds hadn’t gone by and I was worried.

But then something funny happened. I looked up at the 30 minute mark and realized that they hadn’t screwed it up yet. Same thing at the 45 minute mark, and the hour mark. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t on the same trajectory as the original film in terms of excellence, but this prequel wasn’t entirely inept either.

This THING stays true to its source. The camp is recreated quite well, and fans of the 1982 film can certainly see in this 2011 film, some of the events which lead to what is found by Kurt Russell. The axe BURIED in the wall. A creature burnt and killed. The hole in the perimeter. The biggest achievement the 2011 film has going for it is quite simply its ability to stake some of its own territory while convincing you (or me anyway) that this really could be the same world Carpenter created in 1982.

This film plays with the idea of being a remake. Many of the same beats which occurred in Carpenter’s version happen here. The most egregious of these copycats appears to be building towards a blood testing scene, but the script works its way out of that and mirrors it with a less-tension filled (and less definitive) teeth inspection scene.

The special effects aren’t particularly good, but they are shocking. This film doesn’t lack for big ideas, even if it can’t always execute them with precision. Some of the monster effects (the two-headed monster for one) certainly work. But when the monster first appears at the film’s outset, it doesn’t feel real. Which is ironic, because some of the work with the same monster dead on a table while being picked-apart by the doctors is some of the most effective work in the film.

The acting in this is not bad, and I’m not sure I recognized a single person in this. That sort of anonymity works in the favor of this movie. This isn’t one of those movies in which you can predict the exact order of death. There is a certain level of unpredictability which works. This is somewhat tempered by knowing what happens in the following days (thanks to Carpenter’s film), but the movie also finds away around that. There is absolutely a unique and worthwhile story to be told here.

This new THING can’t quite command the suspenseful beats of the 1982 version, but it gives it a hell of a shot. Usually a remake (or prequel) makes fans of the original squirm. For me, personally, I felt like this movie properly paid homage to its predecessor , and it encourages a revisit of the source (I am, for the purposes of this article, ignoring THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD from 1951). I expected to hate this movie. I expected to rip it to shreds. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. While I’d always go to Carpenter’s first, I would revisit this film as well.



I’m giving this film a bonus point for its dedication to continuity with the 1982 film. I absolutely appreciated this film more because of my love for the original.



~ by johnlink00 on September 25, 2012.

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