The Thing (2011)

Immediately before the events of 1982’s The Thing, a much worse version of The Thing took place at the same research station, except with Mary Elizabeth Winstead of Kurt Russell. 

Did you hear they’re doing sci-fi at The Globe? The play’s The Thing.

So creatively bankrupt it can’t even think of another title, this perfunctory prequel answers burning questions like “How did the alien get there?” (spaceship) and “Who watches The Thing and thinks ‘this needs CGI’?” (the people who did the same with Dawn of the Dead and RoboCop). Of all the pre-CGI movies that might benefit from a digital facelift, John Carpenter’s seminal sci-fi/horror flick seems pretty far south on the list. That this rehash is an ugly, dull affair adds insult to CGI injury. Even the 1951 version had real fire.

Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s picture has no atmosphere, suspense or personality, and nothing new to say. The Cold War allegory The Thing from Another World said “You can’t trust them!” The nihilistic The Thing said “You can’t trust anyone!” This one says “We found a fucking alien!” then has it jump out with a loud noise. For all its Thing-style imitation of the Carpenter classic, the film is too lazy to bother trying to recapture any of the iconic set pieces, simply having the nondescript characters killed off in sorry succession.

The slasher sensibilities and female lead feel more like an Alien sequel than The Thing (even the way the monster stalks around a kitchen is more Xenomorphic than Thingy), while the obsessive doctor (Ulrich Thomsen) storyline harks back to the Howard Hawks original but goes nowhere. There’s a generic orchestral score replacing Ennio Morricone’s Carpenteresque one (as in John Carpenter, it didn’t sound like The Carpenters) and dialogue that’s less Howard Hawks and more Hudson Hawk. “You’re not here to think,” we’re reassured at the start.

This is a parasitic prequel that exists purely to feed off an existing entity, and as per The Principle of The Thing, the only solution when confronted with such an abomination is to burn it.

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