It's almost too easy to beat up on The Thing - it's a movie with no purpose. From the big dumb cgi alien to the big dumb climax in the big dumb space ship to the between-credits sequence that's there to remind people that the END of this film is the BEGINNING of John Carpenter's The Thing, there's no reason for this movie to exist. If you thought to yourself "who gives a shit what happened to the Norwegian station?" when you realized this was a prequel and not another remake, director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and writer Eric Heisserer didn't do anything that's going to make it worth your while. Their answer, apparently, was "pretty much the same thing that happened in the first remake."
To be honest, if the film didn't keep shitting its pants trying to be grosser or creepier than The Thing
everybody loves, it might be okay. Then again, the reason everybody
calls it a "remake" is because the story is so close to what happens in
John Carpenter's film. After a promising opening where the Norwegian
crew discovers the frozen spaceship and "thing," we meet Kate Lloyd
(Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a bio-paleontologist invited to attend a
"discovery" on short notice by Dr. Sandor Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) and
his research assistant Adam (Eric Christan Olsen). We already know what
the "discovery" is, because if we've seen The Thing from Another World and / or The Thing,
we've seen the outline of the ship and the frozen specimen. This time
we get to see the ship, which at first seems novel but then becomes
ridiculous at the end of the film.
Well, you can guess
that they bring the specimen back to the base camp, it thaws out,
starts killing / absorbing people, and before we know it no one can
trust each other. First they pull a "bait and switch" about who the
Thing has "copied" in a helicopter attack scene that defies narrative
logic. Okay, I'm willing to accept that the Thing is (SPOILER) just
trying to get back to its ship and not headed for society like Kate
worries it will. That's fine. But why, when in the helicopter, does the
Thing freak out and attack the guy we thought was "infected" and cause
the copter to crash, presumably killing it and the two American pilots
(Joel Edgerton and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). But wait! They aren't
dead, so Kate doesn't trust them. Could one of them be the Thing that
survived and (for no good reason) returned to the camp?
paranoia that works so well in Carpenter's film is nonexistent. Why?
None of the characters are remotely memorable. It's hard to care about
who is or isn't the Thing when your protagonists are two pilots who
should be dead, three scientists who behave suspiciously, a bland
research assistant and a gaggle of interchangeable Norwegian
victims-to-be. I give Mary Elizabeth Winstead credit for trying to keep
everything together, and I will also concede that the film wisely
doesn't try to make her into a Jack MacReady surrogate. That said, she's
constantly pushed into the background of scenes by characters I could
care less about and I didn't buy the "sad" ending before the film
remembered it needed to bridge to a much better film.
they couldn't use the "blood" test again, there's a half novel but half
baked attempt to develop the absorbing powers of the creature. It can't
mimic non-organic material, so Kate decides the best way to see who is
and isn't human is to - it's so much stupider typing it - check
everyone's mouths for fillings. Seriously. They set up the Thing's
evolution but couldn't figure out how to parlay that into an interesting
way of generating suspense. Why? Because FOUR people don't have
fillings and only one of them is the Thing, but we don't find out which
one until a silly fight scene between the pilots and the scientists.
A word on the effects - I was under the impression that 2011's The Thing
was to have more "practical" special effects and less CGI. What I
didn't realize was that was limited to corpses. The work by Alec Gillis
and Tom Woodruff Jr. is appropriately disgusting, but it isn't freakish
or disturbing like Rob Bottin's effects. They also don't move - the
practical effects are for corpses, of fused Thing/human hybrids or half
absorbed corpses or charred remains. Anything that moves is bad looking
CGI that seems like it was borrowed from Dead Space. Things look even
stupider in the ship, where the Thing looks like a rejected monster from
Men in Black II.
Who was this movie made for? I can't imagine people who have seen The Thing from Another World or The Thing
sitting through the entire film. Only people with a passing knowledge
of Carpenter's film would even stay engaged, but most of the connections
at the end would be lost on them. I actually give a pass to selling it
as "from the producers of Dawn of the Dead" because in theory, it could
have been different enough of a take on the premise that using Zack
Snyder's remake as a basis for comparison. Had the film lived up to that
concept, maybe I could understand why it exists.
brief moment in the first thirty minutes, I thought there might be
something watchable in The Thing. It turned out that there was, and it
was John Carpenter's The Thing. Why I watched the watered down,
CGI "enhanced" version is anyone's guess. Well, the truth is that I said
"what the hell" and rolled the dice. Never has the term "craps" been
more appropriate. Let's just say I watched it So You Won't Have To and leave it at that.