Written by Phil Robinson Sunday, 11 December 2011 12:26
Features - Reviews
Hands up if you remember screaming out in terror and laughter at the sight of a man’s head detaching itself from his body, sprouting legs and scurrying across the floor like a house spider? If so then you’re probably a fan of John Carpenters cult classic original film of the same title, and if so you probably were as excited as I was at the release of this prequel directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (as a flame thrower wielding palaeontologist in place of a bearded Kurt Russell) . Sadly to say this film did not hold a light to the original 1982 version.
This is not to say that this is a bad film: ‘The Thing’ is a wildly entertaining film that will have you squirming out of your own skin as the otherworld being does exactly the same to several of the research team members. As with any self-respecting Prequel, we see some iconic imagery from the original given an on screen pay off in this new adaptation (queue the famous double face pull ‘thing’ amongst others), and of course the setup of how the events in this film lead right onto the original which never fails to please fans.
However, even though there is a slow build-up of paranoid tension once the alien is exhumed from the ice, there seems to be a general lack of the same nerve shredding tension in the original version. The characters in the original Thing did a fantastic job of hurling wild accusations at one another while still maintaining their character, so you really invested your time with them. Here it felt more like a group of randomly selected bearded men shouting at one another but having no real screen presence (and way too many of them to keep track of or even remember their names). Contrary to a lot of views, I did not have a problem with the introduction of female characters and a strong female lead, why not? I initially thought female characters is what would be a factor in setting this film apart from the original, and although Winstead’s acting is solid her character becomes far too predictable and soon turns into an monster hunting Ellen Ripley Wanabee (from original alien saga).
Of course the real star of the show (and rightfully so) is the alien ‘Thing’ itself. Imagine the most disgusting visceral display of flesh being torn inside out, running around trying to devour whatever or whoever is nearest and you have a brief understanding of what the thing is and its various incarnations. For the most part this film does a great job of making you want to scream and laugh out loud in disgust (the same reaction you have to watching embarrassing bodies!). With so many advances in CGI there was no other way to do this film that wouldn’t have been trying too hard to mimic the original, which relied mainly on puppets; that films ultimate strength. Although the special effects here are top notch and fun to watch, sadly the Thing eventually turns into CGI overload which detracts from the suspense and the horror aspect.
The Thing is like marmite; you will either love it for what it is (a complete gross –out thrill ride), or hate it for what it stands for (another take on a cult classic that was not needed to be told). I tend to favour the latter but I would happily watch it again with friends, just to see the look on their faces when body parts start sprouting extra limbs and teeth!