Reasons why The Thing (2011) is NOT a remake: 1) It’s a prequel set before the events of the 1982 version. 2) It’s a whole new set of characters. 3) In a dose of Tim Burtonitis the ending goes off on a completely different, bafflingly insane tangent. 4) One iconic scene changes from heating blood to looking into people’s mouths for evidence of dentistry.
Reasons why The Thing (2011) IS a remake: Everything else. Including the fucking title.
The prequel to the remake of the adaptation of the short story sees science geek and ice enthusiast Kurt, sorry, Kate Lloyd sent to Antarctica to dig out a big lump of frozen water that may contain a dead alien. Even more of a worry for me, she has to deal with being “cooped up with a bunch of Norwegians”. The abiding memory of the only Norwegian I’ve ever met was him getting his cock out on KFC. Norwegian Wood indeed.
Those that say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery need to have a word with John Carpenter. Because with Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog and Halloween all reduxed since the turn of the millennium – with Escape From New York ground into remake dust at the centre of the rumour mill – he may well ask to forgo the flattery. He must be wondering why everyone wants to dig them up so often and defile them.
So is ‘The Thing Twenty Eleven‘, to call it by its proper name, yet another case of Hollywood necrophilia? Yes and No. To criticise it simply for being a remake would, of course, be showing a glaring lack of cinematic knowledge, (JC’s 1982 flick was a retelling of the Howard Hawks-produced 1951 film, both based on the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.) but where Carpenter remade, Scrabble champion Matthijs van Heijningen simply repeats.
Using the same iconography as before – beards, snow, heartbeat soundtrack, parkas and uppity puppies behind wire cages – isn’t the biggest of the Strike team’s mistakes (they who Dawned ‘The Dead‘ for the iPod Zombie). The real mess lies in the fact that from Plot Point One until Act III we’re treading over all-too-familiar snow prints. Thing Found – Thing Burnt – Thing Not Dead – Thing Relocates To Warmer Climate In Form Of Man – Man Goes Crazy With Paranoia.
Yet even the paranoia part is badly handled with one piss-awful scene between Eric Christian Olsen (no relation) and the World’s Worst Cockney (even worse than Don Cheadle) losing their shit and arguing at the briefest lick of a split. Mary Elizabeth Winstead meanwhile takes well over half the film to realise she’s the daughter of John McClane, spending the first hour coming off instead like a fit niece of Basil Exposition. And she’s can’t quite rock that furry hood in the way Kurt did.
And her beard is shit.
Sitting in negative digits on the movie-o-meter-as-temperature-scale, between the toasty hot Carpenter classics and the ‘so cold witches’ tits are calling in sick’ Arctic shocker Whiteout. Coming Soon: John Carpenter’s Vampires 2012. Or, y’know, perhaps not.
Release date: Friday December 2
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Die Hard 4.0, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World), Joel ‘Uncle Owen’ Edgarton (Animal Kingdom, Warrior), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen, Season of the Witch).
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen ( The Thing (2011) ).
Screenwriter: Eric Heisserer ( A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) ).
Running Time: 103 mins.