Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Thing (2011)


Dir: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen
Canada/USA, 2011

Seen: October 15, 2011 at AMC Yonge & Dundas #24

Reason to see: It's on my list of Most Anticipated Films of 2011 (#3)

I was so excited to finally get out to see The Thing (2011), I think it's the final 2011 film that I had to do my best to hide every time a trailer played so it's a relief from that perspective, but I also was so looking forward to it being a fan of both The Thing (1982) and The Thing From Another World (1951), which are films that were both were based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.

This The Thing (2011), is a prequel to the 1982 The Thing, and it's set in Antarctica on a Norwegian research station where things go amok. I love when things go amok in film, and they really do. I could over use that word, but here it is literally the right word. The amok-ness has the Norwegians science team including Dr. Sander (Ulrich Thomsen of Fear Me Not / Den du frygter) recruit outside help of Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to help with scientific elements that have a larger scale outside the regular core sample collection. It's quite brilliant to bring in the outsider to the location it allows for multiple, believable levels of tension between not only insiders & outsiders but also scientist & non-scientist, as well as moral dilemmas and cultural dividers between the Norwegians and the Americans, which also include Carter (Joel Edgerton of The Square, The Waiting City) and Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, "Lost"). That level of tension and confusion is key with a science fiction thriller of this nature, where you are continually trying to determine exactly what is going on, but it's never very easy to do so. I really enjoyed that as it kept the film continually engaging, even if you are familiar with where the story is going.

One of the things I loved about The Thing (2011) is that it has nods to the 1982 film for which it's the prequel for, but manages to incorporate them into the film without them feeling too obvious to first-timers to the films. The subtly nods in the score, the layout of the sets, vehicles, the pacing and of course some of the characters all tie really nicely into the '82 film which if you haven't seen, I highly recommend you do but I would also say see the 2011 version first or give yourself some time between viewing. I only caught up with the 1982 The Thing in 2008 and even had an opportunity to see it at Thing-Fest 2008 with one of the original actors, Thomas Waiters, there for a Q&A but I decided not to revisit it until after watching the prequel, and I'm really glad that I did because I watched it after enjoying the prequel. I love countdowns, marathons and building anticipation for films, but I think with prequels having a more distant memory serves the viewer better because you are familiar with the broad strokes of the story, but not so familiar that you know everything that will, can, could or should happen.

What's great with this new version, is that you can feel the love for the '82 film but the new permutation owns its own complete story. Ultimately, that is what won me over, it pays respect to and has love for what it's building up to but still spins it's own tale. It's a film that like the '82 The Thing, it's better to know less rather than more going in so I don't want to say to much. But if you like science fiction, this film has to be on your radar. It's a great mystery-filled story with interesting characters, intriguing questions and keeps you questioning but is still filled with action as well as great tension. I was happily impressed with it and already look forward to seeing it again.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll happily watch it again
I strongly recommend it to science fiction & horror fans

Also see: All 2011 Films Reviewed, Most Anticipated Films of 2011 and All Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011


The Film Connoisseur said...

Glad to see Im not alone on this one, I enjoyed it as well. It had less tension than Carpenter's film, but still worked. The CGI was excellent as far as Im concerned, but Im sad their were no make up or practical effects.

Just wrote an article comparing the new one with Carpenters, you might enjoy it.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Oh Connoisseur, I am *so* glad to see we are in the same boat on this one! The tension was lower than the Carpenter version, but I think it still worked really well as a whole as well as a homage.

Could you tell just by watching that there were no practical effects? I don't have that eye yet. I thought they still had the visceral aspect that made it super creepy.

I'll totally check out your article! Thanks :)

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