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The Thing (2011) - Movie Review

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The THing - Movie Review

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2 stars

The coldness of director Matthijs van Heijningen’s remake/reboot/whatever you want to call it of The Thing isn’t due to its icy Norwegian camp setting (although, even the obvious is taken for granted here).  It’s the paper-thin characters; the vapid CGI; the all too familiar narrative (which really brings nothing to the table); and the lack of chilling atmosphere that any discussion of The Thing should have that do the most offending.  While the setting and the costumes maintain the 1982 vibe of John Carpenter’s creepy classic, there are simply too many things missing to mark this as a quality affair.

The extraterrestrial events of Heijningen’s movie – written by Eric Heisserer and Ronald Moore – were hinted at (and creepier) in Carpenter’s movie.  All rumors with nothing confirmed.  Here, everything is confirmed with little surprise…and even less suspense.  With only 3 days before Carpenter’s movie takes over in which to tell the tale, Heisserer and Moore choke themselves on the fumes from their own flamethrower.  Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and scientist Sander Halversen (Ulrich Thomsen) join a oddly silent Norwegian outfit that has come across an ice-buried spacecraft of alien origins.

Because curiosity trumps logic, the team of scientists and scholars bring back a specimen from the ship.  No one can blame them.  Yet, we know what has to happen.  Once freed from its block of ice, the form-shifting alien parasite mimics its way through the remote station and its scientists as it attempts to make its way to civilization.  Only Lloyd, Sander and the crew's pilot a Kurt Russell-channeling, Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton), stand in its way.

The balancing of suspicion and suspense which Carpenter handled so well in 1982 is pretty much lost here.  Heijningen’s team gets the attention to detail down, but Heijningen himself can’t seem to nail down some pretty basic beats and winds up relying too much on hollow special effects to deliver scares than through character.  The alien/human morphing scenes are bone-crunching and budget-friendly and, as a result, a bit weaker than previously seen.

And what of that fierce paranoia that funneled the fear and terror and tension and, ultimately, made for some memorable moments in 1951’s The Thing from Another World and Carpenter’s remake?  Gone, gone, gone.  We’ve traded that necessary human component (especially in such claustrophobic quarters) for some fairly mundane action sequences that wouldn’t be out of place in a Die Hard flick.  Even the underground climax is handled like a hammer to the head.

Yawn.

Yet, the ultimate movie-making foul happens when this self-proclaimed prequel starts to retrace the same ground as Carpenter’s film, both in function and form, the whole “prequel” label starts to feel a little foul.  For all intents and purposes, Heijningen’s version of The Thing is nothing but a remake; even its scares are stolen.

Yeah, we’ve already seen this movie, too.  It was great in 1951 and even better in 1982.  In 2011, The Thing is just one plucky paleontologist’s search for silver fillings in a mouth full of extraterrestrial silliness and Norwegian Neanderthals you don’t get the chance to know.  Much like a pale corpse, Heijningen’s stiff take on The Thing is a rather lifeless affair.

And that’s about as frightening as it ever really gets.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The THing - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.
Director
: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Writer: Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr.
Cast:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead; Joel Edgerton; Ulrich Thomsen; Eric Christian Olsen; Paul Braunstein
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
It's not human. Yet.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The last place you want to be is cooped up with a bunch of Norwegian guys."
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
www.thethingmovie.net
Theatrical Release Date: October 14, 2010
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 31, 2011

Synopsis: Antarctica: an extraordinary continent of awesome beauty. It is also home to an isolated outpost where a discovery full of scientific possibility becomes a mission of survival when an alien is unearthed by a crew of international scientists. The shape-shifting creature, accidentally unleashed at this marooned colony, has the ability to turn itself into a perfect replica of any living being. It ...can look just like you or me, but inside, it remains inhuman. In the thriller The Thing, paranoia spreads like an epidemic among a group of researchers as they’re infected, one by one, by a mystery from another planet.

Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up.

When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew’s pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish.

The Thing serves as a prelude to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film of the same name. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen, the thriller is produced by Strike Entertainment’s Marc Abraham and Eric Newman (Dawn of the Dead).

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The Thing - blu-ray review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 31, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; D-Box; Mobile features

Awesome looking VC-1 transfer; the opening shot on the ice lets you know it’s gonna look a treat. For the anal videophile, they will probably pick up on a little DNR, especially in close ups on faces, but it’s not distracting at all. Audio is flawless; the DTS-HD 5.1 lossless mix give all speakers a hearty workout and make this film effectively immersive. Extras are fairly run of the mill and forgettable.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length audio commentary with director Matthijs van Heijningen and producer Eric Newman.

Special Features:

  • U-Control Picture-in-Picture
  • The Thing Evolves (HD, 14 minutes)
  • Fire & Ice (HD, 5 minutes)
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 9 minutes)

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