Friday, October 14, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE THING (2011)

The quest for something hotter than Mary Elizabeth
Winstead contines....
"Not all of us are human."

1) I am beginning to suspect that it is impossible to make Mary Elizabeth Winstead look less than glowing...but then, I suspect no one on this film wanted to make Mary Elizabeth Winstead look less than glowing.

2) I give the production a great deal of credit for utilizing cues from the original Enrico Morricone score at key points in the film.

3) Unlike the Carpenter version, this film is filled to bursting with characters--in addition to Winstead's Kate, there's about a dozen Norwegian research scientists, the scientist who hires Kate to come with him and oversee the extraction of the creature, a group of heliocopter pilots, and some people I honestly didn't know why they were around. Because we have so many characters, we don't get a handle on many of them, so there's no sense of them as humans so we can't get all paranoid about them becoming Thing Clothes.

Yep...entertainment is hard to come by in the Antartic...
4) I will admit that the test Kate comes up with to determine who is human and who is Thing Clothes is pretty clever--or at least it would be if they didn't drag out the dubious wire-in-the-blood test Russell's character comes up with in the Carpenter version only to have it wrecked by The Thing. While there are a couple of clever shout backs to the Carpenter version, a couple of them only draws you out of the picture and go, 'hey, let's go watch the good version.'

5) Let's get this out of the way--the Thing is done primarily through CGI and this version of the creature is just too busy. Not content in doing one or two illogical things in depicting its monster, this version does a wild mishmosh of disparate elements that makes it hard for the eye to follow what's happening. With all the tentacles and teeth and claws, it's just gross instead of scary. There's nothing near the head-with-crab-legs gag of the Carpenter version (although there's an arm-with-anemonae-like-tendrils that comes close) in terms of sheer fear-making.

6) And while we're on the subject...there's not a lot of logic to which character ends up as Thing Clothes. One particular gag involving the only other female member of the cast simply makes no sense because there's no moment when she has contact with the alien cells. On the other hand, the one person who seems to be primed for Thing Clothes Status, Ulrich Thomsen's Sander--who insists on taking a tissue sample of the Thing and mucks around in its entrails--isn't revealed as such until the climax.

I call this piece...All Messed Up....
7) And speaking of the climax...there's no reason for it to happen at the place it did. The only reason I can think for director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. to place the final chase there was because it was one of the few things the Carpenter version apparently had no interest in visiting. But since all we get are digital lightshows...what's the point?

8) That being said, I have to admire the very dark ending. Admittedly, it doesn't match the absolutely perfect Carpenter ending, but the implication of what Kate has done due to her own paranoia is more disquieting that any of the waving tentacles and rows of teeth are.

9) I really wish that the script hadn't made Sander so much of an asshat. It lessens the whole paranoia aspect of the movie--and let's face it, the whole point of this version of the Thing is paranoia--if there's already tension and a lack of trust between people. And because there are good guys and bad guys in this film, the paranoia comes off as forced most of the time.

10) You know, the film makes such a big deal at first about being a period piece--a title tells us this takes place in 1982, we first meet Kate as she's grooving to Men At Work on her headphones--and yet once we get up to Thule Base, the script and the filmmaking is extremely mired in contemporary time. Hell, you should have seen how I rolled my eyes when I was treated to shakey-cam during a mass-conference scene debating strategies for dealing with The Thing.

Overall...this is not an awful film...but it's yet another one that just sits there, a piece of product designed to keep us from falling asleep for ninety minutes and change. If only the script had seized on some of the things that made it look like it could be promising and not get mired in all the Husker-Du-ing and contemporary troping...

Back at The Atlas--and they're still having projection problems; look, if you're going to give us just the audio track of the Regal Firstlook, why not forgo playing it as a whole and let me sit in my seat and listen to my podcasts. Not a lot of newer trailers--perhaps the only one that made me take notice was another viewing of the Liam-Neeson-Punches-Wolves-In-The-Head Survival Epic The Grey.

1 comment:

  1. Howard Hawks' version is a classic. Carpenter's is a jump-out-of-your-seat thriller. Was this third turkey really necessary? What's next a Joel Shumaker musical version?