Burn Baby Burn
You have to salute the filmmakers for not falling into the trend and bucking the norm of taking something from the past, and remaking it. It's a no brainer to adapt from an idea and film from the past, and provide an updated spin of what we've already seen, from A Nightmare on Elm Street to Friday the 13th to just almost any horror film you can think of, save a few untouchable classics. So the next best thing, and a gutsy move by writer Eric Heisserer and director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., is to expand a John Carpenter universe, adding their take on what could have happened prior to the events of the 1982 film The Thing, making this film of the same name a prequel that can be put side by side for an extended The Thing film, keeping even the Universal logo of the 80s during the opening reel, and ending with a direct lead into the next film.
To a certain degree, watching this if you have already watched the earlier film, is like witnessing an investigative drama unfold with its plot development having to steer itself into what has already been established as canon by John Carpenter, with certain characters and creatures having to bite the dust in a certain way at a certain place to ensure consistency and continuity. This meant that the filmmakers have had their hands tied with regards to the amount of creative license they can play with without making the Carpenter film seem out of place, or worst, not fit into what would be in the future. It had its own set of characters led by female Paleontologist Kate Llyod, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, in what would be a typical tough as cookie female warrior forced by circumstances to do battle with an alien life-form hell bent on cannibalizing identities before devouring and grotesquely fusing with its earthly host.
Creature design wise it would not have been something not already seen before, with an amalgamation of effects that borrowed from films like the Alien franchise, with bursting bodies and limbs complete with nasty tentacles that rip into humans to puncture and bleed, although at times from certain angles and shots the monsters do look like oversized vaginas with nasty teeth. But creepiness plays a major factor here especially when you realize any human when being fed upon, is actually consciously aware of being so, coupled with another major theme of human distrust exploited by the alien to the highest order, since it can adopt a look and feel of anyone, thereby causing suspicion amongst the human ranks, and deep rooted fears that one's friend, partner and neighbour can turn out to be more than meets the eye.
Ultimately in its eagerness to set the tone and explore a lot more in the John Carpenter universe, it did go a tad overboard with its science fiction component rather than to stay rooted to its monster film genre, going into where Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did as well that made it the single biggest flaw in the entire franchise. Here it was rather unnecessary if not to show off what the special effects team can do, which it already did through the myriad of creatures that come to attack the sanity of the human survivors fighting to weed out all alien life-form with guns and flame throwers. Now to pick up the DVD of the original John Carpenter film and continue where this film had last left off.
You can read my review of The Thing at movieXclusive.com by clicking on the logo below.