The Thing Blu-Ray Review -

Blu-ray Review

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Blu-ray: The Thing (2011)
  • Rating: R
  • Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
  • Written By: Eric Heisserer
  • Directed By: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2011
  • Extras: See Below
  • Series:

The Thing Blu-Ray Review

Unoriginal Prequel to the John Carpenter Classic

By Tim Janson     February 15, 2012


The latest version of The Thing is actually a prequel to1982 film of the same name and shows the events which transpired just before the beginning of John Carpenter’s classic.  A Norwegian research team in Antarctica discovers an alien spaceship that has been frozen in the ice for over 100,000 years but more importantly, they find apparently an alien life form frozen in ice.  The Norwegian team calls in an American Paleontologist, Kate Lloyd (Winstead) to assist in extracting the specimen from the ice.  After bringing the specimen, still encased in a block of ice back to their base, they find out that the alien is not dead but rather just dormant. 
It escapes from its icy prison and begins hunting down the members of the team, replicating their bodies and hiding inside.  The paranoia and suspicion mounts as the group does not know who to trust.  Despite t he fact that she was called in only to assist, Lloyd soon assumes the role of leader.  It is she who discovers that the creature cannot replicate anything that is not organic and devises a clever yet plausible way of checking each of the team to see if they could possibly be the alien in a twist on what was done by Kurt Russell’s character in the 1982 film.
The Thing is filled with well-designed creature effects.  The fear is that this would merely be a CGI-fest but Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., stays true to the Carpenter’s film with much of the effects utilizing animatronic puppets with a minimum of computer-generated effects.  There’s even an updated homage to the upside down spider-head that was created by Rob Bottin for the 1982 film.  The CGI effects that are used are generally effective.  The creature is able to detach its arms which become giant centipede-like creepy crawlies that can latch on to a person to begin the replicating process.  As in the Carpenter version the only sure way to destroy the creature’s bodies is to burn them and thus flamethrowers become the weapon of choice.  So much so in fact that its amazing and damn near impossible that they didn’t burn the entire facility down while trying to kill the alien.
Van Heijningen was meticulous in following the 1982 film.  He wanted to explain how things in that film came to be.  For example, the fire axe that Kurt Russell finds in the wall, the radio operator with is throat slashed by a straight razor…those events are played out in the prequel.  One of the blu-ray extras even discusses how they watched Carpenter’s film over and over to spot things that they would need to cover with minute detail.  They even made sure the axe was imbedded in the wall at the same height, as if anyone would remember.  Unfortunately the attention to detail in trying to seamlessly blend this film with Carpenter’s is also its biggest weakness
Van Heijningen’s prequel becomes a veritable slave to the 1982 film. It never seeks to expand and tell its own story.  It hides safely underneath Carpenter’s warm security blanket and peeks out only occasionally before covering up again.  It essentially tells the same story, nearly scene for scene.  And the same attention to detail is not present when it comes to the rest of the film.  When a helicopter trying to leave with an injured man flies out of control and crashes the two American pilots survive.  Their mere survival has them fall under suspicion of infected by the alien and yet how they survived, and made it back to camp from an area that was said to be unreachable by the Snow Cat vehicles is never explained.
As the film is set at a Norwegian base, much of the cast is made up of Norwegian actors in one of Van Heijningen’s few original ideas.  While these actors are well respected in their home country (One is even described as the Brad Pitt of Norway ), to American audiences they are unknowns, and thus the cast has little star power.  The Thing isn’t a horrible film. From a technical standpoint it’s actually well-made but it will be forever compared to the 1982 film by its own design and thus be found to terribly lacking. 
Blu-Ray Extras
The Thing Evolves (14:00) – Quickie making of featurette which highlights how this film was made to fit seamlessly with the 1982 film.
Fire and Ice (4:47) – Looks at the stunts involving the prolific use of fire and the training the cast went through to use actual flamethrowers
Deleted Scenes (9:15) – A couple of decent scenes involve the final fate of Karl who got dragged off by the creature and was never seen again, and the scene where Colin cuts his own throat to avoid being killed by the creature. 
Audio Commentary with Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.


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ultrazilla2000 2/15/2012 2:16:15 PM

I seem to be one of the few who really enjoyed this movie.  It wasn't perfect, and the effects were slanted in CGI's favor as far as use...but the practical effects used were amazing, and I thought they did a great job of connecting the dots to set up the original film.  

InnerSanctum 2/15/2012 9:39:38 PM

 Where is the fun in a movie where we know the dog is the only one to survive?  

tjanson 2/16/2012 7:30:27 AM

hence the reason I normally hate prequels

jedi4sshield 2/16/2012 1:49:35 PM


I liked it, but it needed more work, way more work!!! They did this painstaking job to try and reinact what happened but missed on some of the MAJOR details. For instance the whole Team taking video footage above the ship was totally blown off. The Ship being in a Cave?! Ohh God, lets get the details of where the axe goes, but lets not get things right how they found the saucer? Yeah for some fans these are just minor details but for movie continuity its like changing history. Lets now just say its an alternate timeline why dont we? (sarcasm)

I get that the director didnt want to go this route but jeez, did we complain when it was done in Carpenters version? The thing is, they didn't look at the footage very well. Carpenter didnt show that they blew up that gigantic Hole in the ground. That gigantic indentation from the ship was already there. They used the Thermite on the lower level where some of the Ship was already exposed!!! Now there could be a bunch of reasons why the ship didnt have a lot of snow over it, radiation from the ship? The sun heating over an unknown Alien metal? Look at the footage again, when the thermite explodes it casts a halo of light from below showing the edge of the Chasm. it didnt blow that gigantic hole, it blew below it, directly on the few feet of snow that was on the ship!

These little snipits would have made this movie all the difference. Also, The Ice breaking scene wasnt quite to my liking there should have been more pause to the whole moment. They had the creature break through ice and leap at the same time, not cool !!! How could they do this when the creature was on its side? makes no sense! It should have been 1. break through ice 2. Gather itself and then, leap out! Also the super long legs that got itself out of the ice werent seen during the autopsy? I guess it was off camera, Wink wink! The Thing looked like a crab? where was all the internal organs? There was more human in it than its own organs! The other problem was that The Thing moved too fast in my opinion, should have been slower. These are the major points of what I disliked about the movie. Otherwise as a whole it was a good movie.


Birdman 2/17/2012 9:32:02 AM

Ultrazilla2000 - I liked it too. I thought it was supposed to be just what happened before Carpenter's version. Why does it need to be anything more than that? I think people expect way too much. It was cleverly done. I will concede on the complaint about the ship and thermite situation, but overall had a great time. As for the rest of the review, how was the transfer? The sound? Just curious.......

aegrant 2/17/2012 10:08:06 AM

I liked this movie - it wasn't spectacular but I was happy with the way they tried create some continuity from this movie to the '82 version so I would give it a B-/C

MrEvil 2/18/2012 1:23:41 PM

I finally got around to looking at this movie. I'm attempting to calm myself as I write this.

People like to argue semantics over this movie because, somehow, when someone says that this movie is essentially a remake, some silly person thinks they can score an point by bluntly claiming it's a prequel. But here's the thing about this movie - IT"S A FRICKEN' REMAKE! (and yes, a remake of John Carpenter's version, not the 1950s).

True, it does its job of connecting the plot dots by religiously showing us how certain scenes from John Carpenter's version fit in (oh, look, the Thing's icy bath tub - amazingly neat, considering the Thing just shattered its way out; oh, wow, that's how the alien ship got exposed to the sky - wait, why would the Thing climb out into a frozen wasteland when it crashed if the ship had power?).

Hmm... they apparently created plot holes when they did that, didn't they?

But otherwise it acts exactly like a remake. It rips off the look of the original's basecamp, not to mention ripping off SEVERAL scene from the original. Is it identical? Certainly not. But it would have been better if it had, because this movie comes off like a bad B-movie creation.

The acting manages to be pedestrian, the main characters are idiots too often, and the only real new addition to the Thing's mythology is a plot element that, while not a dumb revelation, is used in a particulary dumb fashion. The pacing is rushed, the CGI ruins the atmosphere, and the movie's direction is only a surprise to anyone who hasn't watched the original.This movie wasn't just bad - it made me angry. Here's a movie I have to commit selective amnesia on in order to not let it stain my good memories of the far-better original. 

rogue188 2/24/2012 7:32:59 AM

Yup, this movie was far from perfect but I was entertained. What made it worth the watch was seeing the setup of them chasing the dog in the credits. I would rate it a C or B - .

mgibson17 2/27/2012 6:37:54 AM

"As in the Carpenter version the only sure way to destroy the creature's bodies is to burn them and thus flamethrowers become the weapon of choice."

Didn't Kate point out that there was still cellular activity "even after" the creature was torched? Didn't Blair affirm this in the original as well? Even when the flamethrower is used the creature appears to die from its injuries… but like the chameleon it waits for the most opportune time to awaken. Having an organism that's near impossible to destroy seems the perfect setup for a sequel. How could you possibly contain such a threat once you make it back to the states?

Think of the possibilities. There were enough bodies left behind in the prequel to spawn a dozen sequels. All you need do is happen upon one corpse... one severed limb and you've a whole nother movie. Seems to me even if a grenade was used on the creature there would be enough bits and pieces to still pose a threat. What if you inhaled the fallout from the grenade, couldn't that still infect you? Come spring the rescue party would certainly take the bodies back for autopsy; to ascertain how in the hell two crews from two separate camps wiped themselves out.

The only part that bothered me was when Kate escapes the thing by crawling into one of the ship's containment compartments. For some reason it couldn't reach her. What bugged me was why didn't it just detach a limb or reshape itself to crawl in there and get her?



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