The Thing

Year: 2011
Production Co: Morgan Creek Productions
Studio: Universal
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton

Before starting to write this review I looked up the score for The Thing on Rotten Tomatoes. I guessed it would be lower than 50 percent, because I think most of the people seeing and judging it would be fans of the original, hardcore John Carpenter fans for whom a big studio remake with CGI was never going to stack up. For the record, it's 33 perfect as I write this, and it's made about half its money back (ouch!).

So as someone who enjoyed the original but isn't a Carpenter tragic I feel in a good place to judge it as a simple entertainment piece rather than an homage.

The only problem I had was the fillings scene. I get what the unpronounceable director was trying to do with it, but looking in everyone's mouth for fillings just seemed such a dramatic step down from dipping a piece of hot wire into petri dishes full of blood. Harald Zwart's remake of The Karate Kid did something similar, keeping the spirit of the 'wax on, wax off' motif from the original but dialling it right down, realising how gimmicky it would seem to just repeat it today. That worked, but the fillings scene somehow doesn't.

It's the story of the Norwegian camp from the first film, the one the crazy guys come from after trying to gun down the dog in the 1982 opening sequence. When they bring a specialist in ice-going life forms (Winstead) down from an American university, all hell breaks loose. The creature that clones and imitates its victims promptly busts out and the crew of the research station, including no nonsense chopper pilot Sam (Edgerton), have to find it or end up lunchmeat themselves.

It was a nice plot device having the creature unable to clone non-organic material so the copies are missing parts like prosthetics and earrings, but the paranoia that made the original so effective is in short supply. It's not overpoweringly scary but there are a few jumps and for the first time Winstead keeps her eyes down and looks serious instead of perpetually perky, which was a pleasure to see after the doubts I had about her casting.

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