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The Thing (2011)

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Specialists at a remote Antarctic outpost excavate an alien being encased in ice. In their attempts to study it, the alien is awakened. Specialists at a remote Antarctic outpost excavate an alien being encased in ice. In their attempts to study it, the alien is awakened.

Oddly named, The Thing 2011 (dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.) is a prequel to the John Carpenter film 'The Thing' from 1982 and not a remake. It is also set in the 1980s, just a few days before Carpenter’s film begins.

The story opens as members of a Norwegian outpost in Antarctica stumble upon an alien craft buried under ice, dormant for 100,000 years. Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is calmly doing an autopsy on a half-frozen mammoth carcass several hundred miles away when she is railroaded into an expedition by friend Adam Goodman (Eric Christian Olsen) and his boss Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) to document the discovery of the craft. Once settled at their remote outpost and aided by a wide crew of Norwegian and American specialists, the team excavates an alien being encased in ice near the ship. In their attempts to study it, the alien is awakened.

The Thing has the ability to “imitate” other beings at a molecular level and quickly assumes his or her physical appearance, mannerisms and their knowledge. Therefore, it is an extremely difficult monster to predict and to kill, and distrust is quickly sown in the camp.

Several intricate layers of conflict are woven efficiently through the narrative as Kate Lloyd and the others battle the alien being. Burning the creature incapacitates it, but as their shelter and transportation slowly burn to ashes piece by piece, the deadly climate of Antarctica’s winter becomes yet another opponent in the battle for survival. Language barriers and other human elements contribute to the growing conflict as the Thing becomes desperate to locate a more profuse (and unsuspecting) food source.

The effects are, not surprisingly, clearer and more modern than in any of the franchise’s previous films (although Carpenter’s are very good). It is not as suspenseful, but it works to make a person jump just the same. There are more characters in The Thing 2011, many of which turn into a bloody blur as most of them are killed off before becoming memorable. Beyond that, the script is solid and competently acted. Also notable is the dissonant yet strangely beautiful closing credits theme composed by Ennio Morricone, which also underscores an epilogue scene intercut with the credits. 

The conclusion ties in directly with the start of the John Carpenter film, but other threads not dealt with in either plot point to a possible sequel at a later date.

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Lenore Gwynn




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