The Thing

How About Discharging a Flamethrower on the Remake?

         
 

13 October 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

This horror movie lacks subtlety – ooh, what a surprise. The Thing is the third reincarnation of a famous John W. Campbell short story of a monster on the loose in Antarctica, and as far as I’m concerned, the 1982 version by John Carpenter is the only one we need (As for extra plusses, however, it led inspiration to the “Alien” and “Body Snatchers” movies, too). Evoking memory of the Carpenter film turns out to be an entirely big deal because this new version wants to copy a great number of scenes from it, alas unsuccessfully, while at the same time announcing itself as a prequel to it. This time, a team of Norwegian scientists fall upon a great discovery in this new version, and decide to thaw it out only to get interminably attacked by an unintelligent shape-changing alien. Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the consulting American scientist whose constant warnings are excluded, although the four other accompanying Americans are reassuring to her.

Preposterously, most of her decision-making and hypotheses seem to bloom from the 1982 version, as if Kate Lloyd saw that film herself and developed her own procedural manual from it. But no matter, “The Thing,” despite such quibbles, is not scary. It tries so hard to be shockingly scary by scene 11 and every scene thereafter that there’s nothing else to look forward to. Also, most of it seems to have been photographed by a bobble camera.

Instead of persuasive tension amongst characters and atmospheric anxiety, director Matthijs van Heijningen bobbles and quakes his camera up and down or side to side. He seems to have a very big problem with coming up with anything for his characters. Head scientist Sander Halversen (Ulrich Thomsen) seems open-minded to the possibilities of alien life, but inflexible to anything that Kate has to say. Like Sander, the rest of the Norwegians are jerks. Funny how I’ve met quite a few Norwegians in my life and they are among the nicest people that I have ever met. It seems like Norwegians are only jerks in the movies.

The Carpenter classic gave you the heebie-jeebies with the sight of the alien changing from dog to man before our eyes. From another sight of a man’s head splitting open while a whiplash rod shoots out ferociously to attack its prey. The remake has the exact same stuff except it’s all done in very obvious CGI! And it’s overdone! And it’s negated by bad editing! Carpenter had employed special effects makeup artists to create the unthinkable – all constructed from bare hands, not an Apple computer. And his cinematography and editing techniques were hypnotic. Such style is not found here in this remake. This time, the monster at one point morphs into a human-headed crab which left me wondering: How is that even practical in a predatory sense?

After the science station goes up in smithereens, the movie thinks it’s a good idea for Kate to chase the alien back to its hidden spacecraft hidden under a glacier. The better idea for Kate would have been to get the hell out of there alive and head for the closest city for help, notify government agencies, and send real firepower back there to blow it all to hell. But we, along with Kate, get stuck in a humongous spacecraft with endless steel walls and barely no hardware in sight that would signify requisite for space travel. What do these aliens need with all this empty space? But the better question is: What evidence is there that these aliens were smart enough or handy enough to build such a space vehicle anyway?

I got something handier for you, though. This movie is 102 minutes long. How about putting together a party game of who first is able to come up with 102 things wrong with it? First prize is a copy of the 1982 John Carpenter version starring Kurt Russell.

102 Minutes. Rated R.

HORROR / CREATURE FEATURE / BAD MOVIES WE HATE

Film Cousins: “The Thing from Another World” (1951); “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978); “The Thing” (1982); “Body Snatchers” (1993).

 


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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