The Thing (2011) Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen.
This prequel to John Carpenter’s film of the same name plays as a functional and meticulously loyal companion to the 1982 masterpiece. Going in, my expectations were suspiciously low. In recent years, Hollywood has churned out countless prequels, remakes and re-imaginings, that with a few rare exceptions, have existed as blunt exercises in franchise viability.
To begin with, it really helps if you’ve seen the Carpenter ‘Thing‘, as this firmly focuses on the events that transpired at the Norwegian base depicted in the ’82 film. For anyone overly familiar with the source material, there is a pleasing sense of déjà vu in the way the sets and atmosphere have been lovingly recreated. The casting of Norwegian actors is another unexpected, but welcome addition, proving that the financial backers had the sense to place some emphasis on authenticity.
So far so good then. What follows is not a bad film, just an unremarkable one that plays the same beats as the film it is supposed to be re-enforcing. It’s like an advert trying to sell a reliable old product to a new generation. Knowing the fate of the Norwegian characters from the other film, there is an air of inevitability with how things will unravel and it gradually becomes tiresome watching great things you’ve seen in an older film merely replicated with up-to-date effects. On the subject of effects, it’s pleasantly surprising to see the makers have gone to lengths to blend physical and digital visuals in a way that remains respectful to the wildly adventurous creations of Rob Bottin in Carpenter’s film.
So, aesthetically The Thing 2011 ticks most boxes. All the more a pity then that this prequel is so in love with the ’80’s story, that it creates so few of its own ideas, leaving a shell that is little more than a join-the-dots rehash. 2.5/5