The Thing is & always will be one of my all time favourite horror movies, I am super-protective of it. So when I heard that they were planning to remake it I was not a happy bunny as I’m sure you can imagine. Once news filtered in that it was actually a prequel/re-imagining set before the events of the first movie & based at the infamous Norwegian base my interest perked up a bit….not much & not enough to make me go out of my way to see it but I wasn’t so against it all of a sudden.
It was released & promptly disappeared, out of sight…out of mind. Years passed before it came my way which brings us to this review.
I didn’t hate it. That is this review in a nutshell, I thought I would hate it & I didn’t. That counts as a win, right?
So the story goes like this…a group of Norwegian researchers discover a crashed alien ship in the ice of the Antarctic. Nearby they find the frozen body of the ships inhabitant. They cut it out of the ice & take it back to their camp. The man funding the research calls in a palaeontologist (Kate – our heroine) & once they arrive at the base he reveals that it’s an alien that was discovered.
While celebrating their find the alien breaks out of the ice, kills the dog & attacks one of the crew. Before it can do anymore damage it is set on fire & killed.
While studying the remains of The Thing they discover it was attempting to assimilate & mimic the dead crew member & its cells were still alive. They also discover a weakness in it; it can not mimic non-organic things so a metal plate that had been in the dead crew members arm was lying loose inside it.
Later Kate discovers bloody fillings in a bathroom & realises that someone has been taken over by it. She flags down a leaving helicopter where one of the crew aboard reveals themselves to be The Thing. It crashes in the mountains leaving the remaining crew to believe they all died.
The reality that anyone of them could be The Thing & that they can’t leave begins rampant paranoia, death & destruction. Before they know it their numbers are whittled down & it becomes a desperate fight for survival leading to a climax aboard the alien ship & it perfectly lining up for the beginning of The Thing (1982).
It’s not a long movie & thankfully it doesn’t hang around either. I think any fan of the 1982 movie will have similar praise-worthy moments & similar criticisms to what I’m about to say. The movies biggest strength was the attention to detail. Having watched the 1982 movie a few weeks before it was fresh in my mind while watching this & it made every little reference & detail even more enjoyable to watch.
The level of detail gone into replicating the Norwegian camp that we saw in the 1982 movie was excellent. The room that theThing is housed in when incarcerated inside ice is exactly the same including the damage to the roof. The damage done to the base that we see in the 1982 film is made perfectly clear here as the movie goes on. It is so well done that even the placement of an axe in the wall is exactly where it is supposed to be.
I cannot fault the amount of work gone into getting it right.
One of my major concerns about this movie was how The Thing would look compared to the 1982’s lack of CGI. I was aware that this version would also steer clear of a lot of CGI as well but I wasn’t happy with the end result. Sure not all of it is effects but enough is & those moments let the movie down. The Thing (2011) is a lot more visual, you see a lot more then you did previously with transformations playing out with CGI. It’s not that they look terrible, they don’t look great but compared to the non-CGI moments.
The Thing is a lot braver here as well & we first hand to see how it works at getting people alone. I like that…it made it seem smarter then it often gets credit for.
The tension that existed in original doesn’t quite exist here but attempts are made to keep the viewer guessing. A well-thought out filling test adds some nervous moments & the highlight of the entire movie has to be the recreation room bloodbath that sees the creation of the 2 faced creature we see burnt in the 1983 movie & a dis-embodied arm being a serious threat. Most of the crew are fairly likeable even if they don’t get much back story so seeing them die in horrible ways evoked a mixed reaction.
Sadly the final 30 minutes of the movie set about doing away with all the good work done so far. It is so frustrating….
Basically The Thing makes its way back to its ship & proceeds to start it up. Pursued by Kate & another survivor onto the ship we get a kind of cat & mouse situation that is long & unnecessarily action packed. Even after she destroys it with a grenade to the mouth & escapes to meet the other survivor it is painfully clear that he is The Thing as well. An attempt to build tension here fails & I can’t complain enough that she survived & drove off into the sunset (on her way to a nearby Russian station).
The final 5 minutes of the movie does a wonderful job of setting up the 1982 movie. A rescue team arrive at the destroyed Norwegian base to find the same devastation the Americans will find soon. A lone survivor bursts out demanded them to show him their fillings before the dog that was killed at the start rushes past him & off towards the American base. He & the helicopter pursue it & it ends with him firing at the dog from up high. Cool huh?
Using similar music to the original it feels like watching them back-to-back would almost work if it wasn’t for the alien ship ending. Credit to those involved for making the effort….
If you haven’t seen the 1982 film (really? Why are you reading this? Go & watch it right now!) then you may love this more then a dedicated fan will. It tries hard to stay true for the fans & the efforts gone to ensure continuity is impressive. The non-CGI moments look great & although I don’t love them the actual CGI moments do work. Sadly a poor finale with a predictable final twist really let the movie down.