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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
I just went out to rent The Thing (2011) on DVD and was pleasantly surprised. Apart from it not being directed by John Carpenter, not including Kurt Russell, and including a woman in the cast (I swear I’m not a misogynist), I enjoyed it. Let’s begin.
I absolutely LOVED John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Everything about it is awesome and reeks of an awesome movie. It’s a creature feature about a group of guys doing research in the Antarctic when a alien/monster life form enters their base. The hysteria and survival kicks in as they discover the bounds of this “thing” and then all the crap hits the fan. It features the almighty Kurt Russell, nothing more to say.
There was originally a science fiction novella called “Who Goes There?” in 1938 by John W. Campbell (pen name: Don Stuart). From that novella, we got the filmed adaption The Thing From Another World in 1951 and Carpenter’s The Thing in 1982. Both are adaptations of the novella. The newest The Thing (2011), directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., is a prequel to Carpenter’s. Let me just say, I hate the title of “The Thing”. I don’t have any suggestions but it’s ambiguous and stupid.
So there’s a girl in this one– the lead character in fact. Now most of the time, I feel that women in movies are denigrated, stereotyped, and not given the respect they deserve. There are the exceptions but I hate how they are so often included just to add some romantic interest to the main actor. I LOVE to see women kick-butt. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the lead, did a good performance, though I feel her role would have been better if she wasn’t the only female in a base loaded with cooped up Norwegians. It just seemed awkward. I’m not a sexist (more often I feel feminist than chivalrous) but the reason I mention this is that part of the uniqueness from Carpenter’s film was that it was an all-male cast, with entirely male interactions. This gave it a unique feel.
One of the great things about Carpenter’s The Thing was the effects. Nothing was computer generated (CG), all was real and created via makeup and prosthetics. The 2011 film did have CG… BUT I wasn’t upset with them because there was also true effects. I don’t know the exact reasons why special effects aren’t used more often but regardless, we don’t see them much anymore. There was indeed combinations of the two.
So how does the 2011 film play out? Perfectly. That is one of the best parts about the film is that it connects seamlessly. The procedures and fashion flow smoothly from 2011 to 1982. The 2011 film uncovers and thaws the alien/monster and basically lets it loose. Hysteria and survival instincts ensue (just like in 1982), and we have an awesome film about a unique life form that assimilates to any living organic material. The film introduces and unveils some new concepts to the alien which play in well. The best part: The 2011 film ends precisely at the beginning of the 1982 film. So cool!
In the end, we aren’t left with competition with Carpenter, but rather acknowledgement of his masterpiece and a proud continuation. 4/5.