Basic Plot: A research team of Norwegians join up with American Scientists to examine an alien spacecraft and body. Ultimately the alien escapes and wrecks havoc, changing its molecular structure to impersonate various members of their team while systematically murdering whoever is left. It’s up to Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead) to convince the crewmembers what is going on and to find a way to escape. The events take place just before the original movie from 1982.
To me, this movie is just another nail in the coffin in terms of Hollywood creativity and ambition. It’s no question that half of what hits theaters is a sequel, prequel, remake, reboot, based off a recent book, or a superhero movie. Some of these work well, and some don’t, but it’s obvious that producers are running the show now. And it’s a bit sad to think of all the brilliant screenplays out there (there has to be some) that don’t have a sporting chance because films like Total Recall are getting rebooted.
with that rant out of the way, let’s focus on the movie.
How is it?
It’s meh. It falls short from the starting gun because you’re not just redoing a good movie, you’re redoing a cult classic with a very loyal, and therefore unforgiving, fan base. The original The Thing was the perfect paranoia meets monster movie, and it’s damn near impossible to match that because the original has the advantage of simply being there first. Critically speaking, original films will always be better reviewed because they made the first mark. They made that first emotional or cultural connection, and anything that comes after it will ultimately be compared to it, without having the privilege of legacy.
So the real goal then, if you really must remake the film, is to create something new and fresh while still keeping the spirit from the previous film alive. This 2011 remake tries to do this, and for the most part fails, yet as a whole it never becomes a film you hate. They do try to put in the paranoia angle in the movie by having the lead character Kate Lloyd test each person to see if they are the Thing. Unlike the original where they take blood samples, Lloyd sees if they have tooth filings (the Thing can’t replicate metal). It’s a nice effort to be the same and different as the original like I mentioned, but the problem is there is no sense of paranoia at all in the scene or the movie. You barely know any of the characters, and few have any real personalities so you could care less about them. Finding out one of them is the alien is like watching a kid you’ve never met vomit in the cafeteria, or someone you’ve never spoken to leave the company at which you work. In the end, you just go back to whatever you were doing after a few seconds, because it means jack shit to you.
The film seems to realize this, because it turns into a horror/chase film after that. And this works a little better. The main problem though, is that it’s not scary. Like, at all. Yeah, the original had outdated graphics. Absolutely. But they were at least creative with the creature design. Nothing in this remake even nipped at being as scary as that decapitated head with antennas walking on spider legs from the original. The thing here ends up just being a mess of CGI tentacles. And CGI could work. I try to not be the type of hate on CGI too much, but it looks like something from the makers of Sharktopus here.
The acting is fine, I guess, you don’t really expect much acting from modern horror films, but the actors look scared when they’re supposed to so plus marks there. The dialogue isn’t total crap and some of the sound effects are cool. But the biggest failing, other than its lack of fear factor, is that it’s not interesting to look at. Nothing special in the directing, cinematography, or creature design, and all in all it makes for a forgettable picture.
I’m trying so hard to think what purpose this movie could serve, but I’m coming up with empty pockets. It’s not the kind you watch on a date to get the girl trembling in the crook of your arm because the Thing itself is kind of gross without being scary, and you’ll both probably fall asleep halfway through. It’s not a grab-popcorn-by-the-handful Halloween flick because it’s not fun. It’s…well…it’s just nothing. It’ll pass like a fart in a breeze, so don’t bother checking it out.
What Could Have Saved It: Replace the Thing with Snuffleupagus and the other characters with Muppets.