Da'Mon Guy looks at the 2011 remake of The Thing, and compares it to the John Carpenter movie from 1982.
The 2011 version of The Thing is a rare thing - excuse the pun. Amongst all the insane amount of remakes/re-imaginings we have seen in recent years, this is one of the very few that actually does its predecessor a credit. It’s an innovative, enjoyable endeavor which is created to serve as a precursor to one of the truly great horror movies of the early 1980’s, John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Although it is the second film to bear the name, it is actually the third
film to be based on the story “Who Goes There?” by John Campbell. The
other movie was named “The Thing From Another World” (1951). The new version stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), Joel Eggerton (Warrior), Adewale Akinnouye Agbaje (Faster), and Eric Christian Olsen (The Back-Up Plan).
The Thing is an entertaining, inventive aberration that makes a commendable attempt to reintroduce a classic story a new generation of viewers, albeit in a more action orientated story than the previous horror based movies. The Thing is a prequel that reveals the discovery of the extraterrestrial and the events that lead up to the beginning of the 1982 film. We meet the first team of scientists who actually unearth the “Thing” from its icy grave.
The best aspect of this version is the tremendous amount of effort that was put into it in order to establish a concrete connection to the 1982 version. It uses such aspects as the same opening title, the ice block that housed the Thing, and the remains of the confrontation with the alien at the site as visual tools to connect it.
But although it is enjoyable, and offers these connections to the original, the 2011 movie lacks the suspense of the prior two incarnations, mainly because this film changes the focus of the story from a tale of deception/subterfuge into story about conquest and invasion. This shift quickly gives the story more of an action flick feel. The original film made the extraterrestrial appear as if it was fighting for survival, seeking refuge in its host to find a way to escape. The “Thing” in the new one reveals itself at every possible opportunity looking to attack its prey and jump from one host the other.
Whereas the limited visual effects available in 1982 could not account for the movement of
the creature, the 2011 version does not have those limitations and
takes full advantage of it. But the new special effects are a dual edged dynamic. In one breath they are pretty good, and almost make up for the shortcomings that the story has. However in the same regard, they hinder the level of suspense that was used before, because many of the “Thing’s” cat and mouse tactics have been trashed for a more confrontational approach.
Mary Elizabeth Winestead does a good job as the lead protagonist but the performance lacks the charisma to take the film to another level, whereas Kurt Russell’s portrayal of the rebel, R.J. MacReady, was a near perfect performance. Joel Eggerton, Eric Christen Olsen, and Adewale Akinnouye Agbaje all make modest contributions in an attempt to add to the entertainment amongst the carnage.
I am probably not as impartial to this film as I should be. As a huge fan of the 1982 version and someone who has read the book and seen the 1951 film, this film had a lot going against if for me. It isn’t in anyway a bad movie, however it doesn’t achieve the same level of greatness for its time that the other versions had. I will admit that after seeing this and then re-watching the 1982 version I applaud the creators of the new movie as they did an excellent job at embedding many details that can connect the two, but it’s just short of that 'pizzazz' which was evident in John Carpenter's 1982 classic.
Da’Mon is a
writer and artist, a graduate of Coppin State
University and an avid, life-long lover of film. Da'Mon has been actively
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