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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
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.
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.