The Thing (2011) Review: Ain’t No Thang – OR IS IT?

For example, if you’ve seen the 1982 version, then you’ll surely remember the characters. If not their names, then at least their distinguishing character traits.

“That guy is the black dancing cook who rides around on roller skates.”

“That guy over there is the easy going, but somewhat unpredictably stupid stoner.”

“That’s that awesomely bad-ass scientist who recognized this potential pandemic at its inception and decided to go postal.”

“And that guy likes dogs. He’s the dog-guy.”

Will you remember any of the characters this time around? Not very likely, with the exception of the one woman on the team who wasn’t Mary Elizabeth Winstead. You’ll remember her because she’s the one woman on the team who isn’t Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Since having your cast of characters develop irrational neurosis is only captivating if you’re interested in seeing how they’ll react to each other, something intuitive is definitely missing.

For instance, when “bearded Scandinavian #9” dies, you don’t feel any sense of loss, you’re just grossed out by all the splatter.

“He had two small children.” One character says.

So what? I don’t even know him.

The Thing (2011) Review
“It’s the Thing! It got Edvard!” “Was he the one that doesn’t speak English?”

When the eyes start shifting around and good faith is stomped out, you don’t start to anticipate any sharp character turns, because you probably don’t remember anybody’s names. The paranoia is still there, but it’s superficial at best. It’s just not as thick and unnerving as it once was.

The problem is that the true horror of the original largely came from that background sense of slowly growing insanity. Not only was the Thing dangerous and could be hiding around the corner, but it could also be your best friend. Mulling this over, you might interrogate your best friend and accuse him, but then lo and behold — he blasts you with a couple counter allegations and gets up in your face. People surround you and accuse you, and you think they could turn on you at any second.

And then that Black Guy with Roller Skates glides into the room, transforms and rips off your face.

So no rising paranoia means no perpetually creeping fear. Instead, we’re left with a myriad of jump scares — which work, mind you — but they’re about as apathetic as these tricks of the trade can get. You jump a couple times initially, and afterward assume that the jumps are always around the corner — like having someone tell you they’re going to punch you in the face, then stare at you for an hour and a half.

This is why I got fired from that Sizzler is Fresno.

Expectations aside though, I’ll say that all in all, the movie was at least entertaining. Because of its lack of true substance, the thrill of a film like this lays in two things: The uncomfortable splatter, and the Thing itself.

You just have to admit, the Thing makes for a pretty interesting creature. Just like the first time around, it doesn’t really have any true form and looks alien in every sense of the word, but there are also portions where it takes on a partially human appearance in regard to its previous host. It’s in scenes like this that the film is at its best, and the movements of the tentacles, as well its ear-piercing screech are all reminiscent of the good times had in 1982.

However, if it’s fantastically disturbing practical effects you’re after, well sorry but the creature is mostly rendered in CG. This, of course, means that the shots aren’t composed as well, lighting-wise, because you can literally superimpose the Thing wherever you’d like. Conversely, this does make for some interesting images of it bonding with someone else, or stalking someone in the kitchen, a la Jurassic Park. Your mileage may vary as to whether or not it looks credible, but things did seem to begin unraveling toward the end, when the effects slowly became severely exhausted.

The Verdict: [rating:2.5]

As you can tell, technically speaking, it’s mediocre at best, but the true harshness directed at this movie stems from associations drawn to the original. That being said, if you’ve seen the original, it’s not like you can pretend that it doesn’t exist, because you’re reminded of it every five minutes through clear impersonation.

At the same time, I still have to recommend the original, especially since it’s the perfect THING to watch with a few friends around Halloween. Even today, it still hasn’t become too dated, and the review can be found here. It’s even on Netflix, so no time to waste.

But if you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s remake and have absolutely no intention to, well neither did a friend of mine, and he enthused that he had himself a gay old time at the movies, that night. It can be a fun ride while it lasts, and the audience did applaud at the end and seemed thoroughly satisfied, so you never know — you might be surprised.

If the polarization of this movie is leaving you scared and lonely, then fear not, faithful reader. I’ve devised a new system of subjective rating, which I call: The Yell! Magazine DIY Rating System. Here’s how it works: If you’re a hardcore fan of the original, then go ahead and subtract a half-star from the given 2.5 – that should give you an decent understanding of how you might perceive this film. If, however, you sit comfortably in Hollywood’s target demographic, then feel free to slap another half-star on this baby and enjoy a fine night out at the movies.

I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna see Footloose.


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