“The Thing” (2011) Review

the thing 2011 cgi review

When your girlfriend doesn’t enjoy horror movies it’s hard to find time to go check out the latest flicks, so I’m just now getting around to seeing “The Thing”. John Carpenter’s version (which is also a remake) is probably my favorite horror movie of all time so I was kind of excited, yet at the same time worried about this “remake/prequel”. And I can tell you right now that I was worried for good reason. This movie is terrible.

The idea behind the movie is that it would follow the Norwegian team that was discovered by Kurt Russell and the Americans in John Carpenter’s version of the film. So technically you could call it a prequel, but since there’s only so much you can do with a cell-copying alien and an antarctic research station, it generally feels like a remake. The basic plot is that a group of researchers discover an alien ship along with a frozen alien creature and when the alien is thawed out of it’s ice coffin it begins to kill and take the appearance of the crew members. My gripe with the flick is not about the plot as it’s the same idea as John Carpenter’s, but it’s rather in the way they tried to make it appeal more to today’s technology and audience.

CGI wasn’t really prevalent in movies back in 1982 when John Carpenter set out to make “The Thing” so he had to rely on practical effects to convince the audience that this creature was real and could actually be terrifying to the crew of the research center. And it worked… well. The movie still holds up today as I’ve watched it many times in recent years, but it wasn’t until I watched the 2011 version of the film did I realize just how well the effects hold up. I understand that with the advances in computers and technology that it allows filmmakers to do things that weren’t possibly 20 years ago, but just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. There were parts of this movie that were almost unwatchable due to the fact that the CGI took you so far out of reality that it ruined the movie. And on top of all of that stuff, I couldn’t figure out if the movie wanted to be a prequel or a remake.

the thing 1982 practical effects spider head
This looks like something real that I can touch

It’s not a remake in the sense that it follows the same plot as the 1982 version because, as we know, this one follows the Norwegian crew instead of the Americans, but almost everything that happens in John Carpenters version happens in this one. There’s a dog creature, there’s a test needed in order to determine who’s no longer human, there’s flame throwers galore, it seems like the same movie only different, if that makes any sense at all. And like I said above, I know it’s hard to make things different considering both movies are still about a cell-copying alien and a research facility in Antarctica so there’s only so much you can do that would be different, but since that’s the case, just go with “remake”. Most kids these days, which is the target audience, don’t know that there’s an older, much better, version of this movie out there so it may not matter to them, but for those of us that still hold quality filmmaking close to our hearts, this basically felt like I was being raped, I really don’t know how else to describe it. And “The Thing” isn’t the first “remake/reimagining” to make me feel this way, but the fact that the 1982 version is one of my favorite horror movies of all time makes this one sting just a little bit more.

Maybe I’m just over reacting based on my strong feelings of CGI vs. practical effects, maybe I’m just bitter because another one of my beloved movies was raped by the modern Hollywood machine, but really I just feel bad for the young people out there who will possibly never experience a realistic looking movie like this, with creative camera angles/movements and incredible artists who create incredible, practical creatures. And don’t take that the wrong way, the artists today that create the effects on modern movies are ridiculously talented and deserve credit for their art, but I feel like movies are losing the magic they once held because of the way the process has evolved. Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon, but I know I’m not alone.