The Thing REVIEW
She had an unconventional approach to making cheese on toast.
Release Date: 26 March 2012
2011 | 15 | 103 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£24.99 (Double Play Blu-ray)
Distributor: Universal Pictures UK
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
There are few words dirtier in all of Hollywood than “prequel” and “remake”. This 2011 take on John Carpenter’s ice-cold 1982 classic assimilates two birds with one freaky ET by setting its tale before the events of that film, while rehashing enough iconic moments to give it the feeling of a straight-up rehash.
The doomed Norwegian camp looks identical to what came before. There’s a failed helicopter escape, a Thing-test scene and a wannabe Kurt Russell. But this prequel/remake (premake?) of The Thing has one significant departure, adding a feminine edge to a film famously dripping in testosterone. The inclusion of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Kate Lloyd is one of the few daring decisions made by the filmmakers – and the smartest too, giving the cast of characters a different dynamic and letting Winstead channel her inner Ripley. But writer Eric Heisserer and van Heijiningen aren’t interested in telling Kate’s story. They’re not even interested in palpable paranoia or unbridled nihilism; this is a popcorn monster movie, and nothing more.
The creature design is a cut above most modern monster fare, effectively creeping you out on several occasions. This is largely down to the obvious inspiration taken from Rob Bottin’s masterful originals, though, and it’s a shame that the admirable animatronic/prosthetic work glimpsed in the extras is undone by an unconvincing layer of CGI throughout. The film’s biggest crime is that it doesn’t even give you a chance to get scared, with the tension inherent in discovering who is The Thing spoilt by a creature that reveals itself every two minutes.
It does a neat job of connecting the dots to the original, but an ill-advised journey to the Thing’s spaceship pulls back the wizard’s curtain a little too far. Ultimately it never escapes the looming shadow of Carpenter’s masterpiece. Give it a few years and this version will be little more than a footnote in the original’s Wikipedia entry.
There’s a decent commentary by van Heijningen and producer Eric Newman; but even that isn’t a patch on the classic Carpenter/Russell commentary on the original Thing DVD. You also get 10 minutes of uninteresting deleted scenes; a bog-standard 14-minute behind-the scenes doc called “The Thing Evolves”; and “Fire And Ice”, a five-minute featurette on the fire effects. The Blu-ray comes with a digital copy.
For an alternate perspective, read our The Thing review from the theatrical release.
Watch a sneak peak of the “Playing With Fire” featurette.
Read more of our DVD reviews.