Monday, January 13, 2014

The Thing (2011) Review:

John W. Campbell Jr.'s short story "Who Goes There?" has been adapted to the screen several times. According to many, people consider John Carpenter's version, The Thing (1982), to be the best rendition. And of course, it's not just because it was directed by John Carpenter himself, but also because of the actors who played their roles (which many people credit the most to Kurt Russell), the practical creature effects by Stan Winston and the haunting score provided Ennio Morricone. I'm pretty sure it was obvious to the crew of this movie that making any film anywhere related to Carpenter's masterpiece would be an uphill battle. The question is, how well does this hold up - fairly decent actually.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Joel Edgerton
The film, although labeled with the same title as the 1982 classic, is a prequel and not a sequel. And if there's one thing that this movie does extremely well, is the continuity. Outstanding. Eric Heisserer's writing is spot on with how the events of the Norwegian camp led into the events of Carpenter's film. However, this kind of story telling may also disrupt the fans of the original because they wanted to keep the mystery of what happened at the camp a total mystery and left untouched. But there are millions of ways to explain one mystery isn't there? I think one interpretation shouldn't be bashed especially if its explanation is plausible.

But that's not to say all the writing is good. The are a few key points in the writing that make it good (like the continuity) but because John Carpenter's film had already established the destruction of the Norwegian camp, leaves barely any wiggle room for a different story. That's where the writing isn’t the best. It may be a prequel, but the execution is almost exactly the same. This will give fans a big head case of dejavu, and some will enjoy the nostalgia, while others won't enjoy what seems to be a re-run. But for newcomers, the plot should entertain because it entertained the viewers who first saw John Carpenter's film.

The casting is done well too. To make the setting as authentic as possible the casting department reeled in a bunch Scandinavian actors. But to make sure the viewers had characters to connect with, they also cast Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Edgerton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the main leads. And as stated in the trivia, Winstead’s character was written to resemble more of a shell to Ellen Ripley from the Alien (1979) franchise. Are these characters truly anything special? Unfortunately not. They don't stand out anymore than their Scandinavian co-stars. This is due to the limited execution of how the story plays out. They do act well, but mention a character's name like Kate Lloyd some decade later and it'll be guaranteed no one will remember.

The Thing
Finally helping make this prequel as entertaining as possible is the special effects and music. It's apparent when the CGI kicks in, but its still professional looking. The thing "creature" here is much more agile and destructive during the running time. What's also good is that it keeps its grotesqueness even when used with practical effects. It is just one hulking mishmash of a messy creature. Talk about a face-lift. Musically speaking, Marco Beltrami's score has well-developed horror motifs and has a main theme as well with blaring horns and extended string chords. It may annoy fans that he doesn't stick to Morricone's theme from the 1982 film, but Beltrami does give a nod to it so give him credit for that. Fans should enjoy this, it's a noble tribute.

For a prequel, its continuity is excellent in explaining events along with some great special effects and a well-developed score. However, the execution too closely resembles the classic 1982 film and the characters aren't too interesting.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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