Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(Not So) Splurge of the Week: The Thing

***WARNING I was lucky enough to get passes to an early screening of the film, so this review may contain some spoilers. I will try to be as discrete as possible.

Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew's pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish. The Thing serves as a prelude to John Carpenter's classic 1982 film of the same name

When I asked if this was a remake or a prequel, a friend of mine came up with an ingenious name that describes this film quite well...a premake. This film takes place immediately before the events of the 1982 film and while it isn't the exact same story, hence not a total "remake", it did have a hell of a lot of similarities. One such example is that each movie has a “group test” scene where a blood test is thought of...but of course, the supply is destroyed. Many other similarities are seen throughout, but then I'd be spoiling a lot of the film. The film also has an atmosphere and mood reminiscent to the 80's version, but in this newer update, the way the film plays out kinda reminded me more of "Aliens".
One big difference is that the main character, similar to Kurt Russel's position in the 80's film, is a woman (something the 80's film was criticized for lacking). Another is the appearance of Hollywood's sweetheart...CGI. I mean I expected it of course, but it still is somewhat a disappointment to see so much of it. I was quite happy with the creature effects in the first half of the film, including the FX creature in the "autopsy" scene where the explorers cut open a freshly bar-b-qued Thing. I must say it looked pretty damn cool up to that was toward the middle to the end that I felt the CGI took over and turned what could have been an alright suspenseful horror film into just another big budget action movie with some aliens and blood thrown in the mix.
On the plus side, I thought the acting was quite good and the build-up of mistrust and paranoia was well done. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a wonderful leading lady and shows a strong performance throughout the entire film. The one thing I wanted more of character wise was a chance to get to know the characters a little more so I could actually sympathize with them. While Mary was a great lead, it felt like she was the only one out of the entire cast I could actually feel anything for. Even the "guy your supposed to hate" of the film, Ulrich Thomsen, only has one scene where you think he's a jackass...then he kinda falls into the background of the story with everyone else. For me, a horror movie has to have you invested in all of the characters so that you get pulled into their stories, this one just didn't do that.
When talking about the movie as a whole, I think the first half was actually alright. You had your suspense and a nice build up of mistrust in the camp, but then the second half is just full of people dying that I didn't really care about due to a lack of character development and CGI effects that left you wanting the 80's back. It had a few "jumps" and even a few unintentional funny bits (that dude and his blow torch made me chuckle a bit), but overall it was just OK. I didn't love it, I didn't completely hate it, but I most definitely wouldn't pay $10 a ticket to see it again. If you do though, don't leave when the credits start rolling! There was one other redeeming quality about the film in that the ending shown during the credits does a good job at tying the film into the beginning of the 80's opening scene. The Thing hits theaters this Friday.


iZombie said...

i didn't read you review... i am glad you got those early tickets...

you need some time out!


JH said...

I look forward to seeing it! The Kurt Russell version is my absolute favorite horror flick ever, so I immediately set my expectations at Level 5 out of 10 for this premake...
Great review! ;)