How do you get around the hate for remakes? Your answer is probably stop making them right? Well, that isn’t the route Universal chose. They opted to make the latest version of “The Thing” a prequel. In reality, it is more like they disguise their remake with a prequel. It is an interesting route to take, but did it turn out to be an effective one?
For those that have seen John Carpenter’s 1982 version, there is a Norwegian outpost that the Americans investigate. Well, this prequel takes the audience through exactly what happens on the outpost before the Americans get there. Norwegian scientists discover an alien ship, and an actually alien that has been frozen in the ice. They bring the block of ice with the alien in it back to their outpost in order to investigate it. Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), one of the researchers, thinks it is a bad idea when one of her fellow researchers decides to try to draw a blood sample from the alien. Unknown to them, the alien is still alive, and the experiment ultimately leads to its escape.
Let me first expand on what I mean by them disguising this remake with a prequel. Yes, the movie clearly takes place before the events of the 1982 version, and ends right where that version begins. However, instead of the events of the movie being different, they are very similar to what happens in the 1982 version. What they have done here is basically slap on a beginning where the audience gets to see them discover the Thing, and then follow closely with what happens in the 1982 version. The Norwegians battle for their lives as the Thing tries to replicate itself, and escape.
Is this a bad thing… not at all. I mean that is what The Thing is all about. I’m just pointing out the whole “prequel” thing, and why those that hate remakes weren’t fooled by it. It doesn’t really bother me because you know I typically like some back-story. This movie doesn’t add much, but it is good to see them make the discovery, and why the Thing attacked the Norwegians in the first place. The audience gets to meet Lars (Jorgen Langhelle), the Norwegian that gets off the chopper in the 1982 version, and sees how he knows to shoot at the dog.
Ok, let me try to focus on this movie without too many more comparisons to the 1982 version. One of the important themes of the movie is the mystery of “who is the Thing.” They do a pretty good job of hiding that from the audience, as I never seemed to guess right. At one point, Kate figures out that the Thing can’t replicate anything artificial that humans put in their bodies such as, a person’s dental fillings, or a metal plate. This is a very interesting detail they added, which makes a lot of sense. This narrows down the possibilities, but the mystery is still there.
As far as the Thing itself, it is enjoyable watching it shed the human body, and just become a crazy looking “thing.” The first couple of times they show the Thing the CGI didn’t seem to be that great, but it seems to get better as the movie goes on. I’m not a special effects expert, but sometimes it feels like CGI is in the eye of the beholder. Some will enjoy it, while others see it as being too fake. While the 1982 version did a great job with the effects, especially at its time, there are still moments when the audience can tell how fake it is. The CGI isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t ruin the experience.
The best transformation and appearance of the Thing is when it merges two people together. It is truly disgusting, and awesome at the same time. It would have been nice to see it in this form causing chaos a little earlier. My only real question about the Thing in its alien form is: how exactly does it fly a spaceship? It would have been interesting to see how it accomplishes that.
If nothing else, it appears that the ending of the movie has won over fans of “The Thing.” This movie concludes showing the audience the opening scene from the 1982 version. I’m kind of curious what fans’ opinion of the movie was right as they thought it was over, and if it kind of changed when they showed chopper come into the screen. It is a great tribute to the 1982 version, but also a last attempt to remind the audience that this is a prequel and not a remake.
So Universal tried to hide their remake, and I tried to write a review with as little comparison to the 1982 version as possible. I’m not sure how successful either of us was, but it was worth a try. At the least, I don’t think this movie disgraced it’s predecessor like some of the other remakes have. So because Universal was somewhat successful in doing something different, I give this movie 3 pools of blood.