Movie Review: The Thing (2011)

January 17, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

I haven’t seen John Carpenter’s 1982 original and went into the new version of The Thing believing that it was a remake.  Interestingly, while the premise is somewhat similar, the 2011 version is not a remake and not a sequel, but a prequel.  Apparently those who have seen the 1982 film will understand why some things in the 2011 version turn out the way they do.

Anyway, I digress.  Either as a prequel or a standalone film, The Thing works on some levels as a sci-fi horror but fails to be nearly as effective as it could have been.  It contains a solid performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead (the object of Michael Cera’s affection in Scott Pilgrim vs the World), who channels her inner Ellen Ripley, some freaky special effects and a whole lotta paranoia, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I had seen it all before (and this is without seeing the original).

The Thing (2011) tells the story of a group of researchers who head to a Norwegian base camp to examine a “discovery” from Antarctica.  As it turns out, the discovery is not quite as dead as they thought it was, and soon the base is turned upside down, with people dying gruesome deaths and the survivors not knowing who they can trust.  There’s tension and there’s paranoia and there’s chills (it is, after all, based in the ice).  As far as freaky scares go, The Thing delivers.  The titular character is a nasty, “WTF is that?” piece of work and kudos must go out to the special effects team that created it.

As I said, I haven’t seen the 1982 film, so I cannot comment on whether the 2011 film compares favourably (though from most accounts it doesn’t).  What I can say is that it is certainly better than the vast majority of films in recent years that have been reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels or spin-offs of other popular/famous horror  films or franchises (eg, those Alien, Predator, Alien vs Predator, Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddie vs Jason, Saw, Final Destination filmsetc).  That said, there wasn’t anything particularly clever or special about this film either, and it’s highly unlikely that it will have the longevity of the original, which is still often brought up as a horror classic.

At the end of the day, The Thing (2011) is what it is — a solid prequel that doesn’t nearly live up to the highly touted original but doesn’t crap all over its legacy either.

3 stars out of 5!