[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=7981[/img]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.
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: 1/24/2012
HTS Overall Score:85
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.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=7983[/img]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.
Rated R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language
‘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.
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.
- Commentary with Director Matthijs Van Heijningen
- Deleted and extended scenes
- The Thing evolves
- Fire and Ice
- My Scenes bookmark feature
- D-Box Motion Code enabled
- Pocket BLU
- Bonus DVD of The Thing
- Standard and Ultraviolet Digital Copy
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!
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