The Thing 2011 (The Prequel)

Saturday, October 22, 2011
This afternoon, after a a morning swim and the weekly grocery shopping, Mom and I watched The Thing (2011).  Surprisingly, it didn't suck as much as I excepted.  Rather, it was more of a let down.  The knowledge that it was not a remake of the original but rather a prequel held so much promise.  While this would never eclipse the original (find me a remake that ever does), it could be a fitting accompaniment to John Carpenter's cult classic.

We all know the story of the original movie with Kurt Russell and an always fantastic Keith David so I'm not going into the details.  If you don't, I'm not sure we can be friends.  The 2011 movie, interestingly also called The Thing (sure to make many fans think this IS a remake), tells the story of the Norwegian research camp and their discovery of the alien space craft and whatever the heck it was that crawled out of it to be frozen in the ice.  The Norwegians cut the alien out of the ice and cart it back to their station, planning to defrost it in order to study it.  However, the creature has other plans, escapes and begins replicating various members of the research team.  It takes a little while but they eventually figure out what's going on and set about trying to destroy it.  Pretty much the same essential plot of the original but set in a different camp, with different characters, and with the addition of the a few scenes by the space ship.

I know that, realistically, the same chain of events would happen at the Norwegian camp as happened at the American camp.  When you really start to think about it, is there really any point then of a prequel?  No, there isn't.  The actual discovery of the space craft took only a few minutes of the total run time (2 hours) - the rest of the film felt like an updated remake. What else could they do?  We know what the outcome was going to be and for those of you who've seen the original, you can deduce pretty accurately from the scenes at the destroyed Norwegian camp what had happened. 

One thing I will give the filmmakers credit for, they paid attention to details from the original.  As I watched the prequel, I kept picking out little tiny details that I recognized instantly from Carpenter's film:  the view of the block of ice behind the railing as the camera entered the storage room; the photos on the wall; the radio operator's hand hanging frozen and limp beside his dead body, blood from his slit wrist frozen as it flowed from his body.

The original was far more terrifying, the alien easily scarier, and the tension far more palpable.  Even the music, that instantly recognizable "bump bump", was more prominent in the original, creating a mood, an atmosphere that had you on the edge of your seat for the entire film (thank you Ennio Morricone).  It had a bleakness, a sense of isolation, of real fear. You believed the characters far more than in the 2011 prequel.  I'm glad that I checked it out but deep down, I wish they hadn't bothered to make this film.  It wasn't necessary.  It didn't share anything knew with fans of the original.  Likely just a chance to cash in on the current round of remakes of films from the 80s. 

Do yourself a favour, avoid this film if you're a fan of the original - save yourself the cost of admission and snacks, and go rewatch your old VHS grainy version.  Its far superior.

If you DO go and see the prequel, make sure you stay through the credits.  Otherwise you'll leave feeling like they've missed the big connection between the two films.


sp said...

Thanks for the review. I'm kind of interested in seeing this -- once it goes to ppv.

I really like the "original" and by the original I mean the 1951 Nyby/Hawks version, but I know this prequel is more in line with Carpenter's version.

Watch the 1951 version if you want a good laugh, but it also has all of that Cold War tension as the monster can be read as a "soviet threat."

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