Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Even though John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ is one of my favorite movies of all time, I will say that it did cast Norwegians in a bad light. These are the bumbleheads that defrosted the monster that would like nothing better than to kill us all, right? Thus director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., who’s Norwegian… kind of… decided it’s high time to tell Norway’s side of this story, what exactly went down before that copter went to the sky to kill that beautiful wolf dog? I don’t know what to tell you about this prequel as of yet, but I have learned when you find a frozen alien monster, don’t drill holes in it. It doesn’t like that.

As you already know, a science team from Norway found a 100,000 year old flying saucer and its pilot encased in ice a little distance away. What you probably didn’t know is that Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) assembled a team to investigate this, with American Dr. Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winsted) being his choice of paleontologist. Probably because she’s hot, because as you well know, most paleontologist tend to be pretty hot. Also, the doc didn’t feel the need to tell anybody else on the planet earth about his remarkable find because they might horn in on his discovery.

So our crew, now in Antarctica, brings this alien encased in ice back to the base and Dr. Halvorson wants a tissue sample. Kate thinks that’s stupid. The Doc tells Kate to shut the F@#K up and do as she’s told. Two hours later there’s a really big, angry alien who hasn’t eaten in 100,000 years running around the facility and some poor guy with one of those Norwegian sounding names like Lars or Olev or Henrik or Karl with a K is dead. Fortunately they were able to put down this monster as well. Or did they...

During the autopsy of the thing and the partially digested Olev or Henrik, Kate noticed some strange things going on inside that creature. A tissue sample revealed the same thing that Doc Blair will eventually freak out about few days later, that this thing can replicate its host. Completely and perfectly, except for dentures and stuff. Kate let’s everybody know, but do these Norwegians believe her? No they do not, probably because a couple of them are Things already.

After a few choice alien demonstrations, now everybody’s a believer, but the question remains… just like before… who is human?

Setting aside John Carpenter’s classic for just a moment and looking at this prequel on its own merits, I found ‘The Thing’ to be a serviceable horror thriller, at least until the end when things matriculated towards the side of the wacky. Somebody might want to explain that to me because the characters actions at the end didn’t make any kind of sense to me. But back to the body of the movie, it certainly moves quickly, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was an impressive heroine considering she had to have the brains to figure everything out, since the idiots around her refused to listen, and then she had to kick all the ass since these same idiots seemed to rely on her to do this as well. Joel Edgerton and Adewal Akinnouye-Agbaje were excellent in support, the creature effects were solid, though we weren’t all that crazy about the obvious switch over to pure CGI near the end, and all in all ‘The Thing’ was a decent movie. Until it got to the end.

Now bringing John Carpenter’s version back into the fold, this movie does pale in comparison at almost every turn. Now these shortcomings weren’t as egregious for me personally, since I was expecting this, but nonetheless they are there. Carpenter’s film relied on mood, pace and atmosphere. Rob Bottin’s creature effects, while outstanding, were a complement to that movie, not the centerpiece. This film hinges most of its bets on the action as there is way more of it in this version than there was in the 1982 version. This isn’t an altogether bad thing, but it is a different sorta thing which ultimately doesn’t work as well. So while Director Heijningen Jr. did attempt to infuse the same kind of tense paranoia that was prevalent throughout every frame of the Carpenter film… we can’t call 1982’s ‘The Thing’ the Original with a clear conscious for obvious reasons… but because of the quicker pace of this film and the fact that the monster was almost always too quick to reveal itself, the paranoia and tension just wasn’t working all that well. Also, while both films weren’t all that high on character development, for whatever reason… maybe the quality of the actors involved back in 1982 or maybe it could be credited to a master director at the top of his game… every single character in that film was memorable where the majority of the characters in the film were faceless Thing fodder with funny names.

But none of this is to say I didn’t like this version of ‘The Thing’. It respected the film from where it spawned, it certainly held my interest and was never dull or boring, and with the exception of the final sequence of events, which still has me baffled, it follows along about as logically as a movie about a shape shifting monster can go. But it is called ‘The Thing’ and comparisons to film that spawned it are unavoidable, and when taken side by side, unlike the creature itself, it is a pale imitation.

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