Title: The Thing

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kim Bubbs, Jorgen Langhelle, Jan Gunnar Rosie

Well the first 30 minutes-and-change of this remake of a remake (1982 – original was 1951) is basically a wash for the most part. If you can plow through that portion then The Thing actually proves to have something to it; even though this is essentially the same screenplay from the 1982 version that starred Kurt Russell.

The gist of the story is that a discovery is made just outside of a remote base on Antarctica in 1982. A group of scientists realize they have something monumental here but adhere to radio silence so nobody else tries to steal their thunder. Well the creature frozen in giant block of ice escapes, and its genetic make-up is like nothing anyone in this smarty-pants group has ever encountered, scientifically speaking. The dozen or so crew that are stranded out here are perplexed in how to tackle this creature; which is an expert in playing hide-n-seek around the handful of small housing-like complexes that make-up the research grounds. Despite torching the hell out of it with flamethrowers (weapon of choice), it somehow keeps coming back and in a form no one expected; enabling it to blend in with the group and cause trust issues with the remaining survivors.

Having upgraded technology is the only justifiable reason why this particular movie needed to be remade. The creature effects are by far the most intriguing and entertaining aspect of this flick. Watching the antagonist transform is a marvel on-screen. And every time the creature goes on display – in a variety of fashions and/or different looks – one may go deaf with the amplified soundtrack. Seriously, this is as loud as an AC/DC concert during all the action sequences. When the action isn’t dialed up in the dark & snowy atmosphere, raw dialogue between the factions that comprise the whole group comes to a head; as they need to find out who is still human and who is not.

The filtering out portions usher in the mystery angle and these sequences are clever and well-disguised, for the audience will not have a clue who is telling the truth. So although the screenplay is redundant – not just with being a remake (more on that below) – the instinctive chess match will casually draw one in. Outside of that, everything is just going through the motions, save for the kills. Things are more bloody and graphic in this version and the CGI is handled fairly well during the brief mildly suspenseful showdowns many of the characters have with the alien-creature.

Now if you have never seen either of the previous installments of The Thing, picture a splicing of any Predator and/or Alien movie franchise (or 2009’s piece of trash titled, Whiteout). Humans encounter a new life-form; they try to figure it out; body parts end up flying around. Or in this case…also morph together. The only niche to this story is the above mentioned mystery on who has been “influenced” by the diverse looking creature.

Performance-wise, the cast has to all work together as no one really takes firm control of being a lead. The script forces Mary Elizabeth Winstead to move this sucker forward, yet she is constantly interacting with multiple cast members throughout the entire feature. And the personalities of this batch of characters may be the only difference beside the obvious technological advances from the other versions. The set even mirrors the 1982 version so well that it could have been the same one aside from the tweaked ending that unfolds in a new environment – though very similar to the above mentioned comparison films.

Overall, The Thing does what it’s supposed to in this type of tale (and that could lead to some reservations from respective viewers). There are telegraphed moments of scares but a few of them could still catch the audience off-guard. With new tools to play with, the versatile CGI’d creature and the special effects become the attractive hook in a loose and uninspired – and loud – screenplay. The pockets of the mystery subplot are the only other element that will entice interest levels as the audience waits for the next kill or possible scare. At the very least, this rudimentary creature flick’s tone is taking itself seriously; something that is always appreciated by horror buffs.

Technical: B+

Story: C+

Acting: C

Overall: C

Review by Joe Belcastro

The Thing

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By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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