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post #1 of 16 Old 01-23-12, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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The Thing - Blu-ray Review

Title: The Thing
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen
Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Written by: Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr.
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: 1/24/2012


Movie:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:

HTS Overall Score:85

Summary:
Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew's pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive.

John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of the 1951 classic ‘The Thing from Another Planet’ has long been thought of as one of the best horror films of all time. As a matter of fact, it currently sits at the number five position on the IMDB top 50 horror films of all time. So when news first broke that there would be new version of ‘The Thing’ I have to say I was a little more than concerned that the filmmakers would do more damage than good. But then the news arrived that this would actually be a prequel to the original and would focus on the story of the Norwegians that were in the beginning of the first film. That alone made me feel a lot better about the effort going forward.


So how did they do? I would compare 2011's 'The Thing' to 2010’s ‘Predators’. It is a decent enough effort but never catches the spirit of the original film; nor did it intend to. But rather than pick apart things that I thought worked and things that I thought didn’t, I thought I would focus on the differences between the two. In 1982, Carpenter and crew didn’t have the same technology available to them that current filmmakers do so they had to use models, animatronics and other conventional effects in the scenes involving ‘The Thing’. In 2011’s ‘The Thing’, CGI was used to create the alien and special effects which I felt kind of takes away a lot of the ‘unknown’ factor that was an essential part of the first films suspense.

The next biggest difference was, of course, the cast. 1982’s version had some very memorable characters brought to life by actors such as Kurt Russell, Wilfred Brimley, T.K. Carter, Keith David, Donald Moffat and the list goes on. In the updated prequel there are some fairly talented actors but the script doesn’t really give them much to work with and build from. The characters aren’t very memorable nor are there any memorable scenes with catchy one-liners or good dialogue.

Lastly I will comment on ‘The Thing’ itself. In Carpenter’s 1982 remake he only showed the ‘spaceship’ in the very beginning and in video footage that the Norwegians had left behind. In 2011 the filmmakers decided to make the ship a set piece for the final battle and I think this was a huge mistake for one reason. ‘The Thing’ itself is a very complex being but visuals only show it to be a large parasite with giant teeth and tentacles and is not believable as an intelligent being capable of the technology necessary for interstellar flight.

Now, that doesn’t mean that this homage to John Carpenter’s classic film fails by any means. It’s still a decent horror/monster movie with plenty of gore and frightening scenes, it’s just that the film depends more on the ‘GOTCHA!’ type of scares rather than a built up suspense type of feel that the original had. Luckily I was able to watch the film twice before writing the review and have a better appreciation of what the filmmakers actually produced as opposed to my initial reaction after watching it the first time when I couldn’t see past my memories of John Carpenter’s classic.

Rating:
Rated R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language

Video:
‘The Thing’ does not lend itself to incredibly sharp resolution or large color pallets that pop off the screen. Being that the setting is Antarctica with a majority of the scenes shot at night the image is mostly tepid with blues and grays being predominately in the forefront. Even the flamethrowers and explosions look a little lackluster against the pitch-black Antarctic sky. Speaking of which, black levels are deep and menacing but does give in to some crushing and shadow delineation falls a bit short. Color reproduction is mostly accurate for the light within a given scene and flesh tones are similarly represented leaning a bit cooler in temperature. I couldn’t find any deficiencies in the transfer to complain about however; I do want to make a quick comment about the CGI. The CGI in ‘The Thing’ is a bit undercooked. Most of the scenes involving the alien/creature look like something created in 2005 rather than something recent. It just doesn’t look that believable and the special effects crew could have used a bit more time to add some texture and give a little more life to it.



Audio:
The 5.1 DTS-HD-MA is pretty good but nothing to write home about either. I found a couple of spots that the audio was almost piercing and I needed to turn down the volume a touch. This was mainly in the beginning when the team discovers the spaceship. The audio is fairly dynamic but falls a bit short in terms of LFE. I thought there were some missed opportunities for some really good atmospheric LFE but it wasn’t worth penalizing the transfer; just an opinion. I did think that the surround channels were a bit underused and really didn’t come to life until the third act of the film. The sound designers failed to capitalize on the creepiness factor of ‘The Thing’ itself by not better utilizing the surround channels for those things that go bump in the night. Dialogue reproduction was about as perfect as I have ever heard and directionality was exceptional. The score was basically the same as from the 1982 classic that was written and performed by John Carpenter and added a great nostalgia factor to the film.

Extras:
  • Commentary with Director Matthijs Van Heijningen
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • The Thing evolves
  • Fire and Ice
  • U-Control
  • My Scenes bookmark feature
  • D-Box Motion Code enabled
  • Pocket BLU
  • Bonus DVD of The Thing
  • Standard and Ultraviolet Digital Copy


Overall:
On first pass I was too busy picking apart the differences between the two films to really pay attention to what Director Matthijs van Heijningen was trying to achieve. Upon the second viewing I noticed a lot of things that I just flat out missed the first time that actually made the film a lot more enjoyable. This could never replace Carpenter’s 1982 classic but that wasn’t Heijningen’s intention either and once I figured that out it made 2011’s ‘The Thing’ a fun, updated monster movie that has some good scares and a great ending (during the credits) that ties the two films together. I would recommend this as a rental first but if you are a fan of the original I would also recommend watching this one twice before passing final judgment.


Recommendation: Rent It!

Official Blu-Ray Reviews Scoring

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Dale Rasco




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post #2 of 16 Old 01-23-12, 10:11 AM
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

As always, thanks for a great review Dale!
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post #3 of 16 Old 01-23-12, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for the review!

I watched this in the theater with the full AVX experience. The detail in the CG was very impressive. Part of me wants to see how this will reproduce on my home theater.

I think I may have to pick this one up
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post #4 of 16 Old 01-23-12, 04:10 PM
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

I saw the original film when I was a teenager..It scared the living daylights out of me!!

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post #5 of 16 Old 01-24-12, 10:23 AM
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

Thanks for the review, Dale! I reluctantly avoided this one due to the "horrible" reviews of it in theaters. I may have to check it out as it seems people are much more receptive to it after the initial comparisons to the original.

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post #6 of 16 Old 01-24-12, 11:03 PM
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

Thanks for that review and attaching the you tube trailer. The last time I watched John Carpenter's THE THING was when it was released on DVD and the R4 DVD I rented was not anamorphically enhanced. I didn't have a projector (or any decent large screen) at the time and so I didn't really enjoy the film as much as I could. I think I would appreciate this version better if I just watched it for what it is rather than finding the 1982 film and watching that first, then comparing the two. I have to say, I have been quite disappointed in the whole "alien" genre of late, especially the recent films like SKYLINE, BATTLE FOR LA. This looks promising though.
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post #7 of 16 Old 01-25-12, 06:37 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

Quote:
Mark Techer wrote: View Post
I have to say, I have been quite disappointed in the whole "alien" genre of late, especially the recent films like SKYLINE, BATTLE FOR LA. This looks promising though.
I'll give you Skyline but I really enjoyed Battle For LA. Not the best alien film by any stretch; I just don't think it should be lumped in with Skyline.

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post #8 of 16 Old 01-25-12, 07:04 AM
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No way Skyline can be lumped in with B.L.A. I thought it was buy material and worthy of multiple viewings.
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-25-12, 07:28 PM
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

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JBrax wrote: View Post
No way Skyline can be lumped in with B.L.A. I thought it was buy material and worthy of multiple viewings.
LOL which one was "buy material"? Not SKYLINE by any means.

Any alien film that gives us a look at the full creature less then half way in (and in full sun no less ) is a sad attempt at the sci-fi horror Genre. Even the PREDATOR films kept the creature under cover of darkness when not cloaked by his light bending camouflage. The first film didn't even show us the creature for 40min and it is only a 90min film and as a result, there was that element of suspense. ALIEN (1979) is still one of the best examples of how this is done.

Sadly I now have to throw COWBOYS & ALIENS in with that lot as well.
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-25-12, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Thing - Blu-Ray Review

SKYLINE = Worst Movie Ever!! But I did like Battle LA and while Cowboys and Aliens wasn't great, it wasn't Skyline bad.

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