If you ever needed more proof that movies are like a fine wine, then look no further than John Carpenter’s take on the John W. Campbell novella, Who Goes There?

Originally released in 1982, the special effects were heralded as groundbreaking (and rightly so), but at the same time some critics were also claiming it was “wretched excess”. David Ansen of Newsweek stated “The Thing is so single-mindedly determined to keep you awake that it almost puts you to sleep”.

Now 30 years later, John Carpenter’s version The Thing is universally praised, so much in fact, that when the producers (Marc Abraham and Eric Newman) first mooted the idea of this new version they convinced Universal to create a prequel to Carpenter’s 1982 film as remaking it would be like “painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa”.

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and written by Eric Heisserer, what has been delivered with the 2011 version is a prequel that both compliments and pays homage to the Carpenter classic.

It tells the story of the Norwegian camp that first encounters The Thing and it’s abundantly clear from the get go that the film makers were huge fans of the 1982 film. Replicating every single minor detail from the original, we’re instantly into familiar territory here.

The Norwegian base is dark, moody, claustrophobic and feels just as uncomfortable as the American base.

Aside from the odd bit of CGI here and there, they haven’t tried to modernise anything. The characters have dodgy 80’s hair cuts, listen to cheesy pop music on their walkmans and they shoot photographs with a 35mm SLR.

Unlike the original, our protagonist is female – a character called Kate Lloyd, an American vertebrate palaeontologist played impeccably by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

No doubt inspired by a certain Ellen Ripley, Kate is resourceful and strong character that gives American/English an individual to relate to. As aside from the helicopter pilot Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton), most of the cast are Norwegian and spend much of the film speaking in their native language.

It’s an idea that works pretty well, as it adds to the whole concept of feeling alienated and not being able to trust anyone.

This is probably highlighted best when our heroes are trying to figure out which of the characters are infected and the ones suspected start talking Norwegian, giving the impression that they are planning something.

There are plenty of Easter Eggs for fans of the original film to look out for and they are tastefully scattered through out the movie. If you’ve ever wondered why that axe was stuck in the door, what that dead bloke was doing in the radio room or as Dr. Copper so eloquently put it “what the hell happened” there? Then this film will provide the answers.

Getting a sample of The Thing

Getting a sample of The Thing

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Katie Lloyd

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Katie Lloyd

Examining the Thing

Kate and Sander examining the Thing

 

Sadly, the film does misfire on a few occasions.

The third act is when the real problems begin to kick in, as it takes the audience in a direction that is probably too ambitious for it’s own good. But you can’t blame the filmmakers for wanting to try something a little different to the 1982 version.

The design of the monster also seem a little derivative at times. I know it’s hard to come up with something different when the original was about as bonkers as creature concepts get, but it would’ve been nice to see it do something a little different.

But I’m nitpicking here.

To completely remake John Carpenter’s The Thing would’ve been ultimately pointless and the producers should ultimately be commended for the decision to go with a prequel.

The 2011 film didn’t set the box office alight which is a shame and it may have had mixed reviews, but as I said earlier movies are like a fine wine and I have a feeling that like it’s predecessor, this one will improve with time.

Extras:
Deleted/Extended Scenes
The Thing Evolves
Fire and Ice
Feature
Feature Commentary with Director Matthijs Van Heijningen and Producer Eric Newman

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.