Things We Liked and Didn’t Like About the New Thing Movie
Critics were wrong about the original movie back in 1982. Are they wrong about the rehash too?
- As a prequel, it ain’t no equal. The biggest problem with the new Thing movie is that people going to see it, knowing that it is a prequel to the 1982 classic (starring Kurt Russell and directed by John Carpenter), know exactly what to expect. Prequels are mostly a bad idea for this very same reason: there are no narrative surprises. (The only prequel that ever worked is this year’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Prequels simply cannot fulfill unrealistic audience expectations.) A sequel to the original movie would have worked better.
- That said, the critics had it wrong . . . again. The Thing prequel scored a dismal 34% at RottenTomatoes.com. We don’t think it was really that bad. Seriously flawed, yes, but never boring or dull. The main concept – of researchers at a remote Arctic base threatened by a shape-shifting alien monster – is strong enough to survive a mediocre execution. Did audiences really want yet another torture porn flick instead?
- Some of the wriggly tentacle CGI effects in this new movie are really lousy and undermine the flick. We missed the sheer physicality of Rob Bottin’s special makeup effects for the original movie. They seemed as if they could actually be real. It is a step back for special effects!
- All Arctic research bases have flame throwers and firearms! Who knew?
- Plot holes and goofs. We always thought that the spaceship carrying the Thing crash-landed and the shape-shifting extraterrestrial got frozen in the ice while crawling from the wreckage. Turns out that the spaceship is in perfect working order after all to which we have only one thing to say: what a dumb-ass place to park your spaceship!
- The prequel needs a bad ass like Kurt Russell.
- We liked that the new movie goes to great lengths to be true to the original film, even down to imitating the first film’s distinctive Ennio-Morricone-channeling-John-Carpenter soundtrack. (This is something the recent Conan the Barbarian remake got wrong: we missed Basil Pouledouris’ rousing soundtrack, damn it!)
- History repeats itself. The original movie was a box office disaster and so is the prequel. In the summer of E.T. and feel-good Reaganism audiences didn’t want a slab of solid ice doom like the original The Thing. It almost wrecked director John Carpenter’s career and one can safely say that he never made such a good movie again. Made for a “mere” $34 million, the 2011 Thing only managed to bring in half of that at the U.S. box office.