The Thing (2011)
The Thing is a 2011 science fiction horror film directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., written by Eric Heisserer, and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Eric Christian Olsen. It is a direct prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter, which was an adaptation of the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell. It tells the story of a team of Norwegian and American scientists who discover a parasitic alien buried deep in the ice of Antarctica, realizing too late that it is still alive. The Thing premiered on October 10, 2011 and was released on October 14, 2011.
After Norwegian researchers discover an alien ship buried in the ice, paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joins the team at the isolated Arctic outpost to investigate. She finds an organism that appears to have perished in the crash eons ago but, in fact, is about to awake. Freed from its icy prison, the insidious life-form goes on the attack. Paranoia spreads like wildfire among the crew as they fight to survive against a creature that assumes the shapes of its victims.
- Mediocre CGI effects for 2010s standards, which are no substitute for the famously horrific stop-motion and other practical effects of the original.
- Even worse, the film was actually originally shot with practical monster effects, but after a test screening where the financiers said it "looked like an 80s movie" (which was the intent, with the film even being shot on 80s cameras with real 35mm film) the film was reworked with the rushed, poor-quality CG effects literally traced over the practical effects.
- The film opens up with a Norwegian scientist telling a joke about a boy having sex with his grandmother, which has nothing to do with the film nor does it need to be in a horror movie.
- Stupid jump scare where one of the characters sneaks up behind someone and says "Boo!"
- Test screenings also led to cutting a section about the origin of The Thing (the spacecraft belonged to alien scientists who had retrieved The Thing as a specimen only to be killed by it), though whether this is a bad thing or a good thing depends on how mysterious one would prefer the creature to be. This does, however, lead to an extremely intrusive digital effect of a weird blocky computer display being painted over the craft's alien pilot, leading to the director referring to his cut as the "pilot version" and the cinema cut as the "Tetris version."
- The film feels more like a remake of the original, even though it is supposed to be a prequel.
- It doesn't have the same charm as the original did.
- The characters aren't likable or interesting in any way, shape or form.
- The protagonist is a Strong Intelligent Female Character™, which as usual translates to all the males being stupid because Hollywood doesn't know how to write smart people.
- The film is poorly-paced, particularly in comparison to the original.
- The Thing itself, rather than largely remaining hidden or shrouded in darkness and usually retreating after killing, spends a lot of time out in the open menacing people and being a gruesome CGI monster: this rather plays against the feelings of tension and paranoia, because anyone could be The Thing: indeed, John Carpenter has been known to state even he does not know who is or is not a Thing at any given time in the original film. It also tends to go through a slow process of turning into something horrific before actually attacking anyone.
- Nobody could think of a subtitle for the film and it was ultimately given the same name as the original. This confused audiences as to whether it was a prequel, sequel, or remake.
- Contradicts the original in several places: in particular, in the original, the Norwegians had fully exposed the alien spacecraft, while here they just dug a tunnel down into the inexplicable cavern it is in.
- Eric Heisserer, who also worked on the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street remake and Final Destination 5 helped write this film.
- Lame twist where it's revealed that the spaceship that crashed in the ice earlier in the film was working the whole time.
- It manages to get a few things right that were seen in the 1982 movie, like how Mac and Doc found a frozen man who slit his throat, how the Split-Face Thing ended up buried in the snow or how two Norwegians wounded up shooting at a dog in a helicopter.
- Near the end of the film, if you listen closely, you can hear the original theme music beginning to play.
- The Thing designs look pretty decent, although they were ruined by the terrible CGI.
- Some of CGI can actually be quite terrifying, despite being far overused.
- The practical effects that the filmmakers were going to originally use before scrapping them look amazing.
- Decent soundtrack by Marco Beltrami.
- Passable acting.
The film wasn't well-received by critics and fans alike and holds a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic consensus that states "It serves the bare serviceable minimum for a horror flick, but The Thing is all boo-scares and a slave to the far superior John Carpenter version." On Metacritic, it has a 49/100 and a 6.3/10 user score rating on the same site.
Film critic Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times stated that the film was "big on the grotesqueries, but short on the scares." The film was heavily criticized for being more of a rehash of the 1982 film with Kurt Russell, different stars in the film, and the fact that Universal didn't want John Carpenter to make a sequel to the first film. It has been since widely considered as one of the worst horror movie prequels of all time.
The film had a $35 million budget, but bombed after only making $27 million at the box office.
- The only reason why this movie was made because the 1982 The Thing was a critical and commercial flop at the time of its release, barely making back its budget domestically: critics at the time regarded it as a brainless gorefest and Carpenter's worst work. The fact that it released just two weeks after smash-hit friendly-alien movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial did not help. Like fellow 1982 flop Blade Runner, over the years it was re-examined and slowly went from cult to cult classic to being regarded as one of the best films of all time. Because of this, The Thing has spawned a variety of merchandise—including a 1982 novelization, haunted house attractions, board games—and sequels in comic books, a video game of the same name, and a 2011 prequel film of the same name. Additionally, a remake was announced in 2020.
- The Universal logo from the early 1990s appears at the beginning.