The Thing

18 10 2011

Having never seen the original version, I wasn’t sure what to expect heading into 2011’s remake of The Thing. What I found was an entertaining thriller that, while short on emotion, is filled with enough action to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

If you haven’t already seen it, the trailer reveals the movie’s central premise: scientists at a research base in Antarctica have found a strange extraterrestrial spaceship frozen in the ice. After a little bit of digging, they discover a ‘dead’ alien nearby.

After the scientists drill into the alien to take a tissue sample, it comes back to life. Since the alien is (understandably) angry, it takes out its anger by disguising itself as the human scientists. The rest of the movie plays out as a game of cat and mouse: the scientists need to determine which members of their group are aliens before it can infect them all.

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The psychological aspects of this plot are entertaining to watch. How will the scientists determine which characters are definitely not an alien, and which ones could be? What should they do with any potential aliens? How can you trust anybody around you?

While trying to answer these questions, the scientists are faced with a torrent of violent action. Flamethrowers are drawn, pistols are waved around, and the lives of characters are ruthlessly cut short. Featuring loud noises and lots of fire and explosions, these action sequences take up most of the latter half of the movie.

Unfortunately, this is where the movie’s depth ends. The characters are flat, and we never learn much – or care – about any of them. Any relationship development between the scientists is quickly suppressed, and there is more frantic screaming than quality dialogue throughout the entire movie.

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And, while the special effects are magnificently done, I’m not sure they accomplished what the movie was hoping for. With blood and guts flying around at an alarming rate, these effects felt more disgusting than frightening.

Ultimately, The Thing never seems to decide if it wants to be a horror movie or an action flick. The scary jumps that we do experience are easy to predict, and it seems like the director is consciously willing to avoid exploiting the creepiness potential in every scene.

While it was advertised as a horror movie, The Thing has more intense action than nail-biting suspense. However, that doesn’t take away from the entertainment value. If you don’t care about being emotionally involved in the plot, and just want to see some thrilling special effects and psychological games, then The Thing might be just the movie you’re looking for.

2 stars out of 5

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