With all that out of the way, and before I start ranting and raving about remakes again, let’s look into the prequel (although some would argue it’s just a remake disguised as one) of John Carpenter’s classic, 2011’s The Thing.
So, right from the get-go, before the film was released but the title was announced, I had a problem with just that—the title of the film. What was told to us by the filmmakers of this movie was that this was to be a prelude to the 1982 film. Good. It was said that they were going to painstakingly go over the first film—especially the scenes when the Norwegian camp is visited—to tie both films together seamlessly. Great. We were also informed that they were going to make sure the movie was filmed in the same way to make it look like a film from the 80s. Awesome. Then the title was announced that it was going to be The Thing. What? The same title as the 1982 film? Why? The filmmakers were quoted as saying that they couldn’t think of a subtitle (like The Thing: Begins) that sounded good. What?! Are you telling me that with all the time spent on this film and everybody they had working on this, they couldn’t think of a subtitle for it? How about The Thing: Genesis? Or The Thing: Origin? That’s why it’s believed the film was a remake with exploratory tones to it.
Okay, I said I wouldn’t rant, so let’s get into the film, which was directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
The film opens in Antarctica in 1982, with three Norwegian scientists in a snowcap, following a signal in the ice. The vehicle suddenly falls through an opening fissure and lodges into it many feet below, discovering a UFO in a cavity underneath them. We then meet Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a paleontologist who’s approached by a former colleague, Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen), and a Dr. Sander Halvorson
Now, I’ll say there are good and bad things about this film that I’ll get into. For the most part, there’s a lot of good, so that’s already a plus.
The first thing was the promise that this film was actually going to be a prequel to the 1982 film and they delivered on that assurance. It is and I feel they did a fine job relating that. I think it’s always been a wonder what happened in that camp that MacReady and Copper found destroyed and in ruins. What did the Norwegians go through? How did they find the UFO? And the alien life form in the ice…? What happened when they brought it back to their camp? The questions were answered, pretty much. The second item promised was that the prequel would have the look and feel of the 1982 version and they delivered on that as well. You can easily watch this film first and go into the second one feeling like they were filmed back-to-back—with the exception of the special effects.
The one big complaint, which I feel is a big gaping hole of a mistake when trying to streamline both movies together, is the discovery of the spacecraft. In the first film, MacReady and Copper find notes and VHS tapes showing and detailing the Norwegians’ exhuming of the UFO. The film goes to great lengths to show us—the audience—that the Norwegians uncovered the spacecraft under a shallow thickness of ice, maybe fifty feet or so. In Carpenter’s version, they actually show the men find the spot, which is a big crater in the ice, and we see them have to shimmy down on ropes to the ship. In this prequel, for some reason, the filmmakers decided to show the ship being down under hundreds of feet of ice and that the scientists created a tunnel system to get to it. I guess this oversight was brought up and that the director admitted to this change, citing that it was illogical for this spacecraft to be under such a thin layer of ice, that radar or sonar would’ve picked it up years ago. Illogical??? We’re talking about a movie where an alien can imitate anyone it absorbs…I think we have the needed suspension of disbelief to get by the anomaly of the spacecraft. Why, with all the careful planning to duplicate the camp’s interiors down to the tee and to make sure the creatures and characters are matching as well, would you make such a big change that completely ignores the Carpenter film? It didn’t—and still doesn’t—make any sense at all. The 1982 movie showed the footage on the VHS tape of the Norwegian scientists setting up charges and blowing the huge hole in the ice…that was a big reveal in that film. It angers and baffles me.
When talk began to arise of making this prequel, I actually didn’t think it could be done. It was well established in Carpenter’s film that the camp of scientists were Norwegian and didn’t speak English, as we find out when the shooter from the helicopter speaks. I didn’t think a film with subtitles would work for this type of film and cheating the audience with the cast miraculously speaking English wouldn’t fare well with the fans. So, including Americans into the mix was genius, I have to admit. But Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the
Well, there’s not much more I can say without getting into spoiler territory, so let me get into my final “bit” on 2011’s The Thing.
Anyway, that’s it for now. So thanks for reading and I welcome any comments!