Suffice it to say, this is my kind of movie.
I was primed to hate this movie, mostly because I'm so familiar with the material. As a kid I used to watch the original Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks classic every Halloween afternoon on TV, sifting through all the slow-moving technical scientific mumbo jumbo to get the big scary "Thing" payoff at the end. And the 1982 John Carpenter version's over-the-top gore quickly became one of my all-time favorites.
This prequel takes all its cues from the '82 version and fills in the storyline gaps. Down in Antarctica, a Norwegian expedition team finds an entity encased in ice that looks like the Donnie Darko bunny or an evil lobster claw. Soon, the fun starts. The combination of blood spewing, gut churning, high camp and seriousness that so defined Carpenter's version remain intact in this prequel. The "Thing" can enter and hide in any human host and from there wreak havoc, so it's always a cat-and-mouse game of who could be infected. It can only be killed by fire, so obviously, the weapon of choice is the flame thrower. Let the charring begin.
A good combo of the first two movies, this Thing pretty much morphs into a replica of the second version. The '82 Thing was way before CGI, so the special effects that might seem low-tech by today's standards, were at the time state-of-the-art super gruesome weirdness. But the funniest part is how this 2011 Thing's high-tech CGI effects still come off cheesy and hilarious, a lot like the goopy creatures from Stuart Gordon's From Beyond or Brian Yuzna's Society. We're still talking big gooey meaty slits, all teeth and tendrils with whipping fanged tentacles.
We also get some of the craziest demon alien morphing onscreen to date. There are plenty of flying alien guts and even an updated head-with-spider legs creature that had me laughing in the aisles... again. Maybe this version didn't live up to the disgruntled peoples' expectations, but all things considered, The Thing is a formula that can't go wrong. I know now that I wasted energy thinking that I wasn't going to like this flick. Whether it's a prequel or the other side of the ice-slope, they can keep making this kind of Thing anytime they want.
3 and 1/2 Stars
Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead,
Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen,
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr