The Thing (2011) Film Review, a movie directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ulrich Thomsen, Kim Bubbs, Stig Henrik Hoff, Jonathan Walker, and Carsten Bjornlund.
One could say that The Thing (2011) is like the Halloween remake and the Star Wars prequels: the original is better than new incarnation in almost every way. Like the Halloween remake, what was copied over into this The Thing from John Carpenter’s original film was done better the first time and what material was originated in this film should have been expanded upon. Like the Star Wars prequels, The Thing should have created its special effects in the same manner as the original film instead of going the hyper real CGI route. In that way, this prequel and its effects could have seamlessly transferred the viewer from one film (the prequel) to the other (the original The Thing). In all fairness to this prequel (and the Star Wars prequels), it would have only made the film marginally better.
I would have said much better but the undisguised and piteous plot holes would still remain and accumulate as the film progressed.
I ask you, how did pilots Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton) and Derek Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) survive the helicopter crash? How did they walk such a great distance in snows of indeterminate depths? How did they survive and defeat The Thing on the helicopter? How did they defeat and completely kill it with no weapons, especially no fire weapons?
Two more points of interest: Why does the camp have flame-throwers in the first place? Why would they be needed in a research camp? I do not believe this was answered in the original film either but I could be wrong. Is it to melt ice off of the vehicles? If that were true, wouldn’t the flame-throwers damage the very thing it is trying to defrost?
None of these questions are ever answered by screenwriter Eric Heisserer or broached (the crash question is but only once and it was perfunctory) in the film.
Moving on…like the film did.
Metal not being able to be copied by The Thing was a good innovation in this film but the only one or the only one of note beside the language barrier.
The English/Norwegian language barrier created one moment in The Thing where the worth of this film briefly came forth. It is the first scene where the characters try to determine who The Thing is via teeth fillings. The scene does right what almost every other scene does wrong. Much of the supposed thrills are based on environment and effects in the film. During this scene, the tension is built around the aforementioned language barrier, fear, and the threat of being burned to death. It’s palpable, real, and the viewer enjoys every second of it. Like the original, this scene is about the humans mistrusting and turning on one another. Out of the blue, Jørgen Langhelle (who plays Lars) turns in the best performance in the film (at first calm, helpful, they full of agitation and anger), starting just before but exemplified in this scene. Then the helicopter pilots’ plot hole crash in, the Carpenter redux begins again, and all that built up tension disappears in a gust of unwanted CGI flames and smoke.
The CGI elements in this film were a mistake since the original accomplished (this sick, squirmy feeling in the viewer’s gut) so much without it. The same is true of the first Star Wars trilogy versus the second. Just because you can do something because of technology does not mean you have to. The Thing producers should have stayed with animatronics, plastics, and fluids and left the CGI monsters on the computer where they belonged.
That The Thing would go back to its ship made sense but the fact that only one alien inhabited and could fly such a gigantic craft stretched the imagination. In The Day the Earth Stood Still, the viewer could buy it. If this film, disbelief could not be fully dispelled. It required a leap of faith that the viewer was morbidly tired of making by that point.
And then the dog pops out, pops out of nowhere and begins running away, correlating the ending of this film with the beginning of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Why not wait until nightfall then make your escape? You waited all that time already, through all the explosions, screams, fire, and you decide to make your grand escape in board daylight? That makes little sense but screenwriter Eric Heisserer had no choice. The dog had to be seen by the Norwegian camp survivors.
Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s The Thing tried and failed. It failed as a prequel and as a The Thing movie, almost completely ignoring what made the original great while copying key sequences from that film in lackluster fashion. Since The Thing is about an alien that is an apex copier, the blatant redux aspect of the film could have conceivably been manipulated into something very clever and plot-witty but it never was.