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The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011)

What She said:

She

There are a few reasons why I love the 1982 version of The Thing, two of which are Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley.  The movie also has a good amount of mystery, suspense, and gory thrills.  Almost 30 years later, the studio decided it was time to take another stab at the franchise—not a remake or a sequel, but a pseudo-prequel that tells the story of the Norwegian Antarctic camp that first encounters the alien thing.  Am I losing you already?  Ok, let me back up and give you the basic premise.

Antarctic research camps are terrorized by an alien monster that replicates each human that it kills so it’s nearly impossible to tell who among your group is man and who is alien.  There’s a certain sense of paranoia as you try to figure out if the person standing next to you is about to attack and consume you.   And an urgency to keep the monster contained so it doesn’t take over the world. 

That’s basically the storyline of both movies.  In fact, the latest incarnation, while technically a prequel, is very similar to the Kurt Russell version.  Some nearly identical scenarios play out, it’s just that there’s mostly Norwegians involved instead of Americans.  I can see some being disappointed by this, wondering why studio execs would even bother making the movie if it’s so similar—similar and not even as good.  But, it’s also sort of a homage to the 1982 version, and that makes it fun.  The gore in this movie is also taken up a notch.  The film is adequately brief (as it should be since it doesn’t have much new to offer) and the action plays out fairly way.  Still, I couldn’t help but yearn for the 1982 incarnation, since frankly, it’s just a better movie.

For those who may not have seen the Russell The Thing, this version will probably go down sweet.  At its core, it’s still a good action/thriller/horror flick.  For me, I could take it or leave it. I’m glad I saw it, but now I just want to go watch the 1982 version.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

I really don’t know how much stock I put into movie reviews or box office totals anymore. There just seems to be no consistency amongst critics and audiences alike. Avatar (review here) and Titanic are the two highest grossing movies of all time. Both were also critically acclaimed, however now they are either mocked or generally forgotten.  Fright Night (the 2011 remake) flopped in theaters – earning only $18.3 million – was not only liked by critics, but it’s actually certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.  You can read our review of that right here. Just a little less than two months ago, MMA fighter turned actress, Gina Carano, starred in her very first major motion picture. It bombed in theaters and audiences hated it. However, critics were very kind to it. It has an 80% at Rotten Tomates. That’s pretty damn high. Now I thought The Thing (2011) looked pretty good judging by the trailers, but it did not do well in theaters, earning an 38% by critics at Rotten Tomatoes.

My point is that while I don’t outright ignore these things, it’s so hard to put a lot of stock into them when you see so many extreme opinions about the same movie. You just don’t know how to interpret it. I ran into a similar experience while viewing The Thing (2011).

The Thing (2011) is a prequel to a 1982 horror movie – also called The Thing (review here).  The Thing’82 was directed by John Carpenter and his film is a remake of an old 50s monster movie called The Thing From Outer Space. Confused yet? Ha! Anyways, the 82 version is about a group of Americans doing some kind of research (I forget whether they actually say they’re researching) in the Antarctic. They come across a creature that has the ability to copy other organisms. It looks, sounds, and acts just like whatever it chooses to replicate. So you can I imagine the paranoia that sets in once this scientific team realizes what its abilities are. And if you think that’s cool, wait until you see what happens when someone discovers one of these copies. To say that shit hits the fan would be putting it mildly.

The beginning of that movie alludes to another outpost of Norwegian scientists some miles away. The Thing‘11 is about that group. They are the one’s who found the creature and its ship. They are the one’s who released it from it’s long slumber. So this movie had a clean slate in that sense. It wasn’t about the same characters and only had a few things it had to cover without ruining any continuity from the previous film. It was very respectful to the ’82 versions mythos.

Some of the biggest complaints of this movie were that it offered nothing new from the 82 movie. I’m calling BS on that complaint. This movie gave the audience a little bit more of a peak into the crash site and even the alien’s ship. It was just enough to whet your appetite without spoiling anything established by the older film.

Now I get that this movie is about a creature mowing through a bunch of scientists, as was the ’82 version. So there are a lot of similarities. Even certain scenes reminded you of John Carpenter’s version. But I considered that more of an homage rather than a copy. The filmmakers of this one are obviously fans of the old one. Additionally, if the movie had given us much more about say the creature’s origins, fans would be screaming bloody murder over them venturing into territory they have no right being in. So I think that criticism was a little bit unfair.

It’s not as good as the original. I won’t sit here and pretend it is. The original had the element of surprise on its side. We didn’t know what this thing was back when we saw the old movie. We were shocked and horrified. This time around, we know what’s going on, but that’s not to say it can’t entertain you. This movie may not be as suspenseful, but it certainly made me jump out of my seat a few times and the creature is more disgusting now than ever.

Nobody was as bad-ass as Kurt Russell or as crazy as Wilford Brimley in this one, but that doesn’t mean it was a bunch of bad performances. Mary Elizabeth Winestead had some very big shoes to fill and she did ok consider she had the uphill battle of winning over fans of an existing franchise.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 11, 2012.