Movie Review: The Thing

PrintE-mail Written by Whitney Scott Bain

Review: The Thing (15) / Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. / Screenplay by: Ronald D. Morre, Eric Heisserer / Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Paul Braunstein, Kim Bubbs 

For those who have never read John W. Campbell Jr's story, Who Goes There?, or seen the 1951, 1982 and video game versions of The Thing, you're in for a roller coaster ride of intense action. For those of us who have experienced that cornucopia, it's like watching Revenge of the Sith or The Hangover Part II. You pretty much know that it’s a foregone conclusion what happens in the story.

The pre-credits sequence opens with three Norwegian scientists discovering a giant, H.R. Geiger-esque saucer underneath the Antarctic ice that's the size of a city block. This segues into a nice, updated version of the Howard Hawks/John Carpenter Thing logo, though sadly the scene with the scientists spreading out in a circle discovering that they've found a real flying saucer, as in both the 1951 and 1982 films, is missing.

Enter Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) head of the Antarctica Norway science team who enlists in paleontologist Kate LLoyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead channeling Ellen Ripley from Aliens) with something they've found in the ice that's 100,000 years old. I have to add it to director Matthius van Heijningen, Jr. for adding some fun humor with the song by Men At Work, Who Can It Be Now? that drew a few laughs during the scientists initial meeting. Rounding out the group is American helicopter pilot Braxton Carter (Joel Edgerton fresh from Warrior) and his crew.

Events take their course, as in the book and movies, of the thawing of the creature, with top marks going to the CGI team and special effects puppetry gurus who do an outstanding job of creating Lovecraftian-like horrors throughout the film. The movie then progresses to the usual Ten Little Indians theme of who has been taken over and who will die next, but someone discovers a clever way of telling who is an alien and who isn't in a way that even the previous movies failed to come up with...

Acting is top notch all around. They're characters that are believable and you care about them. Van Heijningen Jr. does an outstanding job directing his cast and creating tense moments combined with heavy paranoia and scares that pay respect to Carpenter's version. Special mention should go to cinematographer Michael Abramowitz for his use of barren, snow covered vistas and the base camp's claustrophobic atmosphere.

Writer Eric Heisserer does an adequate job with the script combining all the source materials together and a few original ideas. The music by Marco Belltrami is a nice homage to Enno Morricone's 1982 score and ominous throughout the film.

The Thing works well as a companion piece / prequel to the 1982 movie, and be sure to stay through the end credits as Van Heijningen sets up the opening to Carpenter's movie.

Overall, fans of The Thing may or may not be let down. That's for you to decide. I believe that it'll be a mixed bag of 'this is great' to 'seen that before', though I personally felt a little empty after watching it.

Expected rating: 8 out of 10

Actual rating:

The Thing is released October 14th in the US, and December 2nd in the UK.

Read our interview with The Thing actress Kim Bubbs here.

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