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THE THING Review: Like A Cover Version Of A Song That Isn't Quite As Good

Like its title creature – it looks like the real thing, it sounds like the real thing, it even feels like the real thing. But it just doesn’t carry the right level of substance to be, The Thing.

rating: 2.5

Its 1982. Big hair is in, and E.T is whipping up a storm at the box office. Meanwhile in Antarctica, a very different E.T is causing a stir of its own. When three Norwegian explorers stumble upon an ice tomb, they find a spacecraft inside, and a frozen alien specimen nearby. Graduate student Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is soon recruited by scientist, and uber jerk, Dr Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomson) to assist the team in digging up and experimenting on the alien life form. But not long after Kate€™s arrival in Antarctica, the group awaken the deadly alien Popsicle, and all hell breaks loose. Confusingly given the exact same name as its predecessor, The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 movie The Thing which itself is a remake of the Howard Hawks produced 1951 horror The Thing From Another World. In fact, it is going to be very difficult discerning The Thing from The Thing in writing. One could consider identifying them as The Thing 1 and The Thing 2, but then we are venturing into Dr Seuss territory. So, in the spirit of discernment, we will call them The Thing and The Thing 2011. When The Thing 2011 was delayed from its original April release date, many worried that a steaming turd lay in wait. It was deemed that €œre-shoots€ where necessary. While watching the final cut of the film, it is glaringly obvious where those €œre-shoots€ were put in (CGI replacement work, much!?) Ironically, particularly near the end of the film, its feel as though there are moments missing, so perhaps there were not enough re-shoots. The Thing 2011 is a frantic mix of fanboy pandering and fresh eyed double backs on plots devices from The Thing. Needless to say, it rests on its laurels one too many times throughout, playing off of pre-established notions from Carpenter€™s version, and even (on a few occasions) just outright cloning sequences €“ oh the irony! Despite this, there is a certain charm about The Thing 2011. For the first half of the film things play out reasonably well. Despite knowing the exact nature of the creature, we are still steeped in an air of mystery and tension. After about 30 minutes or so, things start to spiral into the clichéd confines of a monster movie. The creature is, as tradition has it, completely CG; which is a shame, because the dodgy in-camera effects are part of what made the original so visceral. To director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr€™s credit, he tries very hard to make each character death worthy in absurdity and horror of The Thing legacy. Heijningen Jr does deserve credit for his handling of The Thing 2011 (this is probably his Alien 3 - a young director, under constant interference from an uneasy film studio). Despite succumbing to the draw of cheap scares over suspense and paranoia, he does well to keep the tone of The Thing. For all its gore and grandiose budget, The Thing 2011 never becomes nasty (something which is very much en vogue right now) It keeps the shock factor of The Thing and the look of it too. Cast wise, there are no particular standout performances here, because the majority of the cast hold their own. Winstead is likeable, if not a tad too young, in her €˜don€™t call me Ripley€™ depiction of Kate. Joel Edgerton has speckles of charisma as Sam Carter, but the muted love interest between himself and Winstead is largely uninteresting. It€™s Jorgen Langhelle as Lars, the only non-English speaking character, who draws the most attention. His quiet strength and wild eyed confusion carry airs of a man lost. A character who is watching as the world crumbles around him, and yet doesn€™t quite comprehend it, because everyone else is jabbering in English. He is a character who would not have been out of place in The Thing. Due to its conscious adherence to The Thing, The Thing 2011 will undoubtedly encourage comparisons between the two; for this reason alone, it will be found left wanting. Like its title creature €“ it looks like the real thing, it sounds like the real thing, it even feels like the real thing. But it just doesn€™t carry the right level of substance to be, The Thing. The Thing is out now in the U.S. but won't hit U.K. shores until December 2nd.
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Part critic-part film maker, I have been living and breathing film ever since seeing 'Superman' at the tender age of five. Never one to mince my words, I believe in the honest and emotional reaction to film, rather than being arty or self important just for cred. Despite this, you will always hear me say the same thing - "its all opinion, so watch it and make your own." Follow me @iamBradWilliams