Movie Review: “The Thing”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Courtesy Universal Pictures)

Summary: An alien is found buried in Antarctica and a team of American scientists are enlisted to experiment on it. However, “the thing” is still alive and able to clone human cells.  Hungry and angry, it terrorizes the scientists and crew with the viewer never knowing who is a human and who is “the thing.”

Review: The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter classic. While a prequel is a better road to take than the numerous  tiresome horror remakes, The Thing ends up as another stock science fiction horror flick. Nearly 30 years ago, a killer alien wasn’t as redundant as it is today. From Aliens to Independence Day, there isn’t a way to make the alien genre fresh and the 2011 The Thing is proof of that.

Directed by first-time European director Matthijs van Heijningen, the special effects channel early ’80’s b-rated horror movies, the ending is predictable within the first 30 minutes and the script is foolishly unoriginal. But, in an effort to search for the good, some of the action sequences were a fun ride, but with an overdose of CGI, much of the scenes resembled a video game. That said, van Heijningen does show potential as a director. His cast meshed well and the dark atmosphere was appropriate. But, no matter who directed this flick, it would’ve been a dud. Therefore, I look forward to seeing more of van Heijningen’s work.

Although there is an extreme lack of diversity, The Thing includes a female heroine, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dr. Kate Lloyd. Even though she is not supported by a great script, Winstead had a strong presence on screen and might have a substantial acting career ahead of her.

The always-excellent Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the lone Black character, and he made his small role work. The rest of the cast is packed with nearly identical-looking Norwegians. Ironically, the 1982 version of The Thing was known for its diversity (T.K. Carter and Keith David’s prominent role as Childs). How does a film get less diverse nearly 30 years later?

Blame it on the script?  Blame it on the CGI?  Blame it on the director?  I can’t pinpoint what is to blame, but The Thing should’ve remained buried in 1982.

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