Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Thing 2011: Not As Ugly A Beast As You May Have Heard

Well, a few months behind the curve, where it arrived and died a death in American theatres, the prequel/reboot (preboot?) of The Thing finally arrived in Irish cinemas. So, this critical mess, tomato-ly rotten, classic-film-ruiner can only be a dud, right?

Well... Sorry... I liked it...

Ok, not 100% liked it, but it wasn't as big a disappointment as I was expecting. Also, it did come hot off the heels of the turd-fest known as Hellraiser: Revelations, so it had that in it's favour. No, people had been raging against this film online for the past few months, and I guess I was preparing myself for a lot worse.

You know the plot. It's the story of the Norwegian outpost that initially discover the alien that are briefly seen at the beginning of the original and are explored later. For all these years, we always assumed it would be a Norwegian crew who would speak English, รก la Valkyrie (which has the best foreign-to-English language transition EVER), but nope, the crew contains Norwegians who know fluent English (bar one). This isn't too big a stretch, as most Norwegian's I know speak better English than me. However, this film is for an American audience, so we MUST have a wealth of American actors added in. I did find this a bit hackneyed, as forcing an American element in just felt awkward. That said, I cannot fault the actors who, bar one, deliver good appropriate performances.

One of the people in this picture didn't do the film any favours.

My biggest issue with the film was the same as everyone else: the CGI. I had read interviews by the filmmakers talking about how they kept things as practical as they could, and I even confirmed this to make sure I hadn't gone crazy, but lo and behold, this film could almost pass as Toy Story 4 (except for, you know, the horror and monsters). 

Faaaaakk- Actually, that one doesn't look bad.

Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. provided the practical monsters, and they are normally very reliable, but whatever they did has been completely over-layered with CG. You see the monster too much, and it just isn't terrifying. I read a rational that the monster attacks a lot here because it has never had human contact before and it isn't aware of what kind of a threat man is. This is plausible and satisfactory, but it don't make for a scary beast.

Faaaaakkk- What the hell!? Why are all the pics online
of the non-CGI effects? I cry conspiracy!!!

The film was initially going to be a remake of John Carpenter's classic, but it was thankfully changed to a prequel, though there are a lot of holdovers. The story follows the original just a bit too much, and one of the most iconic scenes, the blood tests, is replaced by a laughable scene where they see who has fillings.

For the same reason the Alien Vs Predator films don't work, this film has the technology to show a lot, and it goes overboard with its power. Unlike the AVP films, this one does work in several different ways (you knew I'd eventually say why I did like it, as opposed to tearing in to it). Apart from the stereotypical rich man villain, all the characters are likable. We like our leading lady, and she doesn't try thread on MacReady's territory and is in fact her own character.

We already know how things are going to end up, so it is all about letting it play out and, though the story is all too familiar, it is still engaging and brings back the guess-who element of the original. And speaking of the original, it ends with a nice lead in to John Carpenter's film.

And Kurt Russell... Swoon...

Overall? This is a pale imitation of Carpenter's classic, but it has a nice slow pace and is a welcome addition to modern horror. There are no big jumps and the tension is nonexistent, but this one is all about the action. It won't be remembered except as that footnote in The Thing's chronology, but as far as popcorn action and a solid flick go, this one will do it. Plus, it makes a great first date movie; it's a real ice-breaker! Haha, I'm funny...

Oh, a little sidenote, look at this picture, or more importantly, the highlighted bit...

Yeah, that's the alien. There is no doubt in my mind. BUT WHAT CAN THIS MEAN!?!?! 

Alien Vs The Thing??