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The Thing Review

Your heart has to go out to the genre: more and more entries into horror
are remakes rather than something original, let alone scary. This
weekend’s The Thing is a strange creature. It’s technically a
prequel, but for all intents and purposes, it is a remake, which is amusing when
you consider the 1982 classic is a remake as well. The cast is amiable,
the setting is dire and the producers behind the scenes have some
experience with doing (decent to good) work on horror remakes, notably
Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead venture. Despite some decent materials to cook with, The Thing has little effect in any form: horror, action or overall entertainment.

The story takes place three days prior to the events of the ’82
film: paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited
by Dr. Sander Halversen (Ulrich Thomsen) to join a Norwegian scientific
team that has discovered a crashed spaceship buried in Antarctica. Upon
further inspection, they discover a creature not far from the crash site
and naturally cut it out of the ice for further testing. The creature
fast approaches room temperature and breaks free, killing various
members of the base as it goes and mimicking their appearances on a
cellular level. As the crew realizes the creature could be any one of
them, paranoia sets in while the Thing picks them off, one by one.

It’s hard to hate on the cast. Winstead (who this reviewer loved in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) makes for a solid lead, though she has virtually nothing to go on. Joel Edgerton (Warrior)
is the movie’s Kurt Russell, though nowhere near as badass or
interesting to watch. The rest of the cast consists mostly of no-names,
save for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz), who is
clearly Keith David to Edgerton’s Russell from the original, again
lacking in chemistry. Thomsen, as the doctor who puts science before
humans, is cliched and makes for a rather boring
“traitorous” character. The dicks from Avatar were more entertaining to watch.

Despite these shortcomings, it’s not to say the cast doesn’t try.
They’re just not given anything to do or build on. The script, written
in part by Battlestar Galactica master Ronald D. Moore (so
disappointing), is lacking in terms of dialogue and content. It makes
all the tie-ins to the ’82 project it needs to, but it doesn’t make the
story any more intriguing. In fact, it was freakier not knowing
what happened at the Norwegian camp discovered in the ’82 film. Just
seeing the aftermath was enough to get the imagination working in a far
more effective way. Now we know how it went: Find, Burn, Repeat. There are elements of the “It could be you!” paranoia from the last film, but it’s not nearly as tense or effective and doesn’t even last long enough to actually go somewhere dark before the Thing shows up again. To define the story and characters within it in a single word would be “hollow” — hollow to the bone.

Perhaps one of the biggest weak spots of this movie (and there are
plenty) is in the visual effects field. Considering how the last
film was a huge step forward in terms of special effects (notably in
makeup), it’s disheartening to say that the CGI work in this prequel
rivals that of
Van Helsing, which is quite possibly the worst CGI
you’re likely to ever see. The
creature’s various forms are not only uninteresting and lacking in
imagination, they don’t even incite a repulsive, “Aw that’s sick!”
feeling in the viewer. Whereas it was easy to find disgusting (and
awesome) images in the ’82 film, here it looks like someone with Adobe After
Effects had too much to drink the night before and threw up all over the
film print. It also bares mentioning that this R-rated turn hardly
earns its rating. Oh, there’s a little blood and imagery, but this
isn’t the bloodbath you were hoping for.

You’ve likely grown tired of all the comparisons to the ’82 film by now,
but it simply cannot be helped when watching this “Thing.” Again, it’s
stressed by all involved that the movie is meant to act as a precursor
to the ’82 film, but there is no denying — save for a few salient details
and events — this “Thing” is essentially the same … damn … thing. This one just lacks in real chills and thrills, feeling more lifeless and pointless
in the end with a third act that goes completely off the rails while
summing up all that is wrong with the movie. It’s
clear that those involved love the ’82 film; it’s a shame they
didn’t take any risks or try something a little different. While The Thing is
not a groan-inducing disaster (though it comes very close), it has almost nothing to offer to
viewers not familiar with the series and is likely to leave fans a little more than cold.

Rating: 4/10

The Thing

Directed by Matthijs van
Heijningen Jr.
Written by Ronald D. Moore, Eric
Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr. (story)
Starring: Mary Elizabeth
Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje


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