The Thing (Rated R) 3 Stars
The prequel The Thing (103 minutes) needs to get from point A to point B. Point B, of course, equaling all the details revealed in the 1982 John Carpenter remake of the 1951 movie, The Thing From Another World, which was itself based on the John W. Campbell, Jr. short story, “Who Goes There?”
Those details include a charred and smoking two-headed corpse, a large block of ice with the top middle portion miss-ing, a radio guy with frozen blood at his wrists, a dog running from an abandoned research station, two dudes who only speak Norwegian flying a helicopter to shoot the aforementioned dog, and most importantly, no survivors at the station.
Yes, the film does that. But I am still not sold on the idea that the film needed to be made at all. There are one or two im-provements to the original plot, but for the most part, the flaws of the original remake (which still managed to be a great movie) carry over into the prequel without any of the redeeming points. There are still far too many cast members, many of whom behave like idiots. Despite the minor improvements to the narrative, the prequel is burdened by a lack of creativity and an overabundance of computer generated effects. Rob Bottin didn’t need a com-puter to scare the bejeebies out of the audience with the 1982 spider head guy and right now, even though he is alive, he is rolling over in his grave.
The 2011 version opens a few days before the 1982 version. A Norwegian science team has nearly fallen on top of a large hunk of metal. In a dramatic scene, there are stuck upside down in a glacial crevasse. I bet the story of how they escaped this seemingly inescapable situation would be an exciting tale! Too bad we don’t get to hear it. Maybe they died? I can’t tell. All grimy, frozen, snow suited, dirty-joke-telling Norwegians look alike.
A scene shift introduces both Dr. Sander Halverson (Ulrich Thomsen) and improbable paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). I mean, she seems competent enough when dissecting the saber tooth (?), but loses that pretty quickly in the face of a male authority, which spends quite a bit of time telling her to hush. Imagine how Macready would have reacted if a Halverson told him to shut his trap and concentrate on extracting the monster? He would have whipped out the flame thrower in about five seconds. After all, he does spend most of the 1982 film restraining and killing people who turn out not to be monsters at all. Good times.
Anyway, completely ignoring the possibility of expos-ing the entire station to an alien pathogen, everyone gathers round the ice block to collect a sample using a drill. During a drunken Norwegian celebration, American pilot Derek (Adewale-Akinnuoye-Agbaje) watches The Thing escape from the block of ice. The group splits up, and we get our first on-screen casualty, Henrik (Jo Adrian Haavind). Kate and Adam (Eric Christian Olsen, looking like a young Cary Elwes) perform an autopsy and discover that even after burning, The Thing is still alive on a cellular level.
Too bad she puts all the pieces together after the pilots have already left the base with a couple of shell-shocked survivors, one of whom immediately trans-forms and eats the other. Because, for an alien, that is a totally reasonable re-sponse when you are in midair and in full view of witnesses.
The cast is steadily whittled down and the film approaches the climax in fairly short order. The film ends on a fairly ambiguous note, although the disap-pearing/reappearing Lars (Jørgen Langhelle) remains a bit puzzling, almost as if the filmmakers left him out of the sec-ond third of the film because they couldn’t figure out what to do with him.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.