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"The Thing" - (2011) - (Movie Review)
Wayne Klein
Studio: Morgan Creek /WB
Genre: Horror Release: 10/16/2011
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen
Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

There always seemed more to the story of John Carpenter's "The Thing". The new 2011 isn't a sequel to Carpenter's classic film which was closer to John W. Campbell's original novella than the 1951 film. In fact, this film plays more like a remake of the 1951 Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks with the way the story is set up and the characters. This 2011 prequel manages to throw in a couple of surprises for fans of the 1982 film while also staying faithful to what we know from the 1982 film. The director and writer bring in a few unique twists and it is surprisingly well cast.***


While tracking a strange signal a group of Norweigans discover an ancient buried spaceship when the ice they are traveling over collapses. Calling in an American Dr. Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to help Dr. Sandor Halvorson determine what type of creature they've discovered trapped in the ice. When Halvorson insists on drilling into the cake of ice the creature is trapped in for a tissue sample against Lloyd's advice, they unleash a creature that immitates humans perfectly and is designed to survive something that the Norweigans are NOT prepared to face.***


Writer Eric Heisserer does an expert job of reverse engineering the screenplay from what we saw in Carpenter's film about the remains of the creature and the Noreweigan base. While that by itself wouldn't be enough to recommend the film writer Heisserer and director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. do an expert job of creating a sense of suspense (although not the feeling of impending doom and dread that Carpenter so expertly puts on display in the 1982 film)even though we know what is coming playing on the fact that the audience may have knowledge while the characters are completely in the dark.***

There are a couple of minor flaws in the film. One we can't help--it's the fact that we know the outcome (somewhat although the writer and director throw a few surprises into the film at the conclusion)and dramatically that Dr. Lloyd makes a huge leap of logic as to what the creature can do based on a cursorary examination of the cells and the remains of one of the attacked members of the team. While it might work for those who might have seen the 1982 film more casual fans or those who haven't seen the 1982 film will be a bit puzzled by it. Still, that's the worst of the film's sins. The other flaw is that while the casting is quite good for most of the main characters they aren't quite as memorable as those created for the 1982 film and the casting director doesn't have the opportunity to rely on the strong group of American character actors that populate the 1982 film. Still, the the producers and directors do work wonders with the cast that they have particularly Winstead who does a fine job recalling the character of Ripley from James Cameron's "Aliens" as she takes charge of the group.***

The director creates a creature that while it recalls what it is in the 1982 film is more brazen and reckless (as something inexperienced with humans might be)when it comes to attacks on members of the crew. We also get explanations as to why certain things occur in the 1982 film that are never fully explained (although they probably didn't need to be).***

The score by Marto Beltrani adds to the suspense of the film and, at the conclusion, uses Ennio Moricone's classic score from the 1982 film. The CGI and physical effects work very well and visually the creature appears quite unique at times but still recalling what we know of it from the 1982 film.***

There are certainly those who are going to be disappointed by the prequel but the writers and directors do an exceptional job with what they have to work with and, in some respects, the tone of the film recalls the relationship that exists between the films "Alien" and "Aliens"; each film shared a central premise but each also goes its own way (although the director here has much less wiggle room with the story).***

Final Words:

As a straight forward horror filck the 2011 prequel "The Thing" is quite good and stays remarkably true to what we see in Carpenter's classic film.*** Recommended.***


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