Country: United States
Genre: Horror/ Action/ Suspense/ Science Fiction/ Mainstream
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
NOT WORTH YOUR TIME
Nine times out of ten, the only reason for a remake to exist is gelt, money, pure profit. The producers take a known property that worked before and retool it for a new generation of consumers.
The Thing is a particularly poor choice for a remake. John Carpenter’s version from 1982 is a masterpiece of its genre. It’s got Rob Bottin’s mindblowing effects, an intelligent and succinct script, fantastic set pieces, and an amazing cast of great character actors and one genuine star, Kurt Russell. The general rule is, the better the movie, the worse a choice for a remake because you have such a high bar to clear.
Being the eternal optimist that I am, at first I thought that director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. might be about more than just cashing in someone else’s ideas with a cheapjack sequel. The cinematography by Michel Abramowicz is elegant. When a character is Norwegian, they speak the appropriate language.
But soon enough, my hopes were dashed.
There is only one really good character actor in the cast, Ulrich Thomsen. Our hero is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who has kind of a Sigourney Weaver vibe, but with one tenth of the charisma.
Then there’s the script by Eric Heisserer. In contrast to Bill Lancaster’s script from 1982, Heisserer’s screenplay is illogical, with poor character development, and no decent set pieces to speak of.
Let me give you an example of poor logic in the screenplay. The title character is a shape-shifting creature. It can mimic other creatures with uncanny skill. Why then would it choose to show itself in grotesque forms for no real reason? In John Carpenter’s version, the monster only became grotesque when it was being threatened. But in this new version, director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. way overdoes the beast with two heads and dozens of claws imagery.
Which brings up what the film’s producers though would probably be the film’s best selling point, the modern digital special effects. They suck. Unlike the original special effects, they aren’t in the least convincing. Part of what made the original special effects by Rob Bottin so great, aside from their creativity, was the way they existed in the physical universe. It gave them a physicality that is very hard to duplicate in the digital realm.
So, the new version of The Thing isn’t all that well acted, it isn’t anchored by any charismatic actors, it isn’t clever, it isn’t nearly as suspenseful as John Carpenter’s version, and it isn’t scary.
But I have to admit, the filmmakers do throw a bone to fans of John Carpenter’s version of the story. During the end credits, two human survivors chase a dog (which isn’t really a dog) in a helicopter. And that’s when we realize that this latest version of The Thing isn’t a remake at all. It’s a prequel to Carpenter’s version!
Still, if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t waste my time.
However, if you haven’t watched John Carpenter’s The Thing before, do yourself a favor. Go rent it. Now.