Thursday, August 2, 2012

127. THE THING (2011)

The feature directorial debut of Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., the son of an accomplished Dutch actor/producer, this is a prequel to John Carpenter's THE THING of 1982 -- itself a remake of Christian Nyby's Howard Hawks production of 1951, though more sedulously based on the original source story, John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?", than its predecessor. It is also a remake, since what happens during this script by Eric Heisserer (FINAL DESTINATION 5, the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake) at the Arctic base of the Norwegians is pretty much what happened to Kurt Russell and crew once the adaptive, imitative alien presence got loose on their American Arctic base.

The main differences here are that the protagonist is female (DEATH PROOF's Mary Elizabeth Winstead) -- though there's so little sexual tension they might as well all be men -- and that the eye-popping physical special effects engineered for Carpenter's film by Rob Bottin are replaced here with much faster, more exaggerated CGI demonstrations (by... oh, various companies), which were either used to augment, overlay or replace various live, onset work supervised by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., all of which is impossible to judge given its final representation onscreen. The result is competent, I suppose, but so imitative (there's some unflattering subtext to be explored here) that it doesn't stimulate much interest and, in its desire to keep things moving, it doesn't court the exhilarating contrast of contemplative lull and sudden action as was so carefully cultivated by Carpenter. One of the criticisms frequently leveled at Carpenter's version upon its release -- that the male characters were ill-defined and easily confused with one another -- is much truer of this one.

All in all, there was no reason for this to have been made.

Viewed on Encore Suspense.

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