Friday, 25 November 2011

The Thing, dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., wr. Eric Heisserer, st. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgarton, Ulrich Thomsen

Less of a prequel and more of a carbon copy, this Thing asks one pertinent question: what do we expect from prequels? Stray far from the winning formula of the original and you risk making a very different beast, commit to the source material and you're accused of squandering a golden opportunity to expand the narrative universe. More often than not, you can't win. Arguably John Carpenter's 1982 The Thing never needed a backstory in the first place. The film derived its power from literally existing in a void. Like the vast inhospitable Antarctic location, there is no sense of what comes before or after, Day and night roll into one, time stands still. The isolation is keenly felt. Heijningen's version begins promisingly enough with its faithful recreations of Carpenter's sets and Morricone's synth score, right down to the intro credits font, but as the plot unfurls, it's clear we're witnessing an unhealthy obsession. Scenes are cloned almost verbatim and although the CG is gruesomely rendered, it's no match for Rob Bottin's intricately machinated slime-filled puppets. Winstead, as palaeontologist Kate Lloyd, is decent enough but I heard Ellen Ripley's blood coursing a little too loudly through her veins for my liking. Speaking as an advocate of the original, sitting through this was at least a painless experience, yet one I'm not sure I needed to have gone through in the first place.