THE THING (2011)

This year's The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter's 1983 movie of the same name, but it might as well be a prequel. The new movie has not just the same creature, but virtually the same story as well.

In 1982, Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) invites grad student Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and research assistant Adam Goodman (Eric Christian Olsen) up to Antarctica to help with an amazing discovery. A team of Norwegians have made two amazing finds: a spaceship lodged deep within a glacier, and an alien creature frozen in the ice.

While the spaceship is forgotten about for most of the movie, the creature is of great interest to all involved. It's broght up in a block of ice, brought to camp, escapes, and kills someone before being torched. The alien autopsy reveals it was creating a perfect copy of its victim -- and Kate learns that the creature's cells are still alive, and some of the other people at the site may be alien copies.

The Thing is about an alien that copies people, yet this prequel copies the original in most respects: the combination of claustrophobia (trapped in Amtarctica) and paranoia (who can be trusted?), a menace that alternates between stealth mode (disguised as human) and horror (in the new one, with tentacles and tendrils flailing about), chasing the creature with flamethrowers, and a test to discover who's human (this time, it's people's fillings in their teeth). Unfortunately, there's virtually no character development of any sort -- except that Kat's spunky and Dr. Halvorson is controlling -- and most of the encounter is a sudden appearance of the creature, followed by desperate combat.

The Thing would have felt more... honest if it had just redone the original instead of borrowing so very heavily from it to create a barely-new movie. The result is a movie almost totally unnecessary.

Overall grade: D+
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: