Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate Lloyd
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr.
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on the novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.
You may notice that this is a first for me. For those of you who don’t, then I will tell you. This is the first time that I have ever reviewed a film while it is still in theatres. I usually wait until a film is released for home viewing before writing it up. However, there was no way I was going to let this one go for that long.
As you may already know, John Carpenter‘s 1982 version of “The Thing” is arguably my all time favorite horror film. I have always believed that it is the perfect horror film. It is a combination of mystery, suspense, gore and amazing special effects that has stood the test of time for almost 30 years. To remake this film would be the same as repainting the Sistine Chapel using painters you hired off the streets. Better yet, it would be like taking a brand new engine out of a car and replacing it with a brand new engine. In other words, it would be pointless. Thankfully, with the 2011 version of this masterpiece, that is not the case.
The Thing 2011 is not a remake, but a prequel, of the 1982 original. It tells the story of what happened before this mysterious creature wreaked havoc on the men of U.S. Outpost No. 31. It shows us the things that came before; like who was the man frozen to the chair with wrists sliced and throat cut, a straight razor frozen in his hand? What about the two burned up bodies that appeared to have melded together, who were they before that tragedy and how did they end up like that? What about that dog? The Thing 2011 answers all these questions while at the same time maintaining a level of ambiguity that comes very close to the original. The most important point is that it shows the utmost respect for the material and for Carpenter’s masterpiece. This is more than a remake or a prequel; this is a love letter to a classic.
The cast, headed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is as talented an ensemble as you could hope for. Winstead in no way tries to step into the shoes of Kurt Russell; but instead brings her strengths and vulnerabilities to the role. She doesn’t suddenly turn from scientist to action heroine; she is merely an intelligent woman who is forced to think on her feet to survive.
The only complaint I have about this film, and it is a small one, is with the CGI. It’s great for the most part; but there were times that I found myself longing for the original make-up effects of Rob Bottin from the 1982 flick.
The Thing 2011 is an excellent film that follows one very simple rule: You don’t f**k with a classic.
The producers convinced Universal Studios to allow them to create a prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing instead of a remake, as they felt Carpenter’s film was already perfect, so making a remake would be like “painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa”. However, the prequel still has the title of the original film, because they couldn’t think of a subtitle (for example, “The Thing: Begins”) that sounded good.
The song Kate is listening to on her headphones is “Who Can It Be Now?”, a song by Australian band Men at Work from their 1981 debut album, “Business as Usual”. The lyrics tell of a paranoid man who hears knocking at his house door and wishes to be left in solitude. This foreshadows the paranoia of the scientists later in the film.
The red axe that ‘Joel Edgerton’ uses and eventually sticks into the wall can be seen still stuck in the wall when the Americans visit the Norwegian camp in the original John Carpenter version.