Movie Review: The Thing

I’ve been seeing a great deal more movies lately. It is probably because of this damned Stubs Card I was tricked into buying, along with a bit of an “I don’t need a fulfilling career or good life choices, I’ve got MOVIES!” attitude. I guess I’m sick of doing nothing just because I have no one to go do it with, so I guess I’ll go ahead and be that misanthrope in the theaters who eats his movie snacks before the trailers are even over.

In either case, my adventures in solitary self-indulgence has today led me to go see The Thing. Having seen the trailers a while back, I was convinced at the time that it was going to be an okay but probably not great movie that wasn’t as wonderful as its trailer hoped. In this I was completely correct.

Let me set the stage for you. This movie, which is apparently a remake of some other movie that was probably better, takes place in 1980-something Antarctica, in the “winter”. Which immediately raised the question of “whose winter?” Because if 28 Days of Night has taught me anything, it is that winter at the poles means perpetual darkness (and drunk refinery workers). This movie, however, had clear and definite day and night. We are even treated to a starry night sky in one scene. This movie did NOT take place in anyone’s winter.

Moving along, this is a sci fi horror movie about a thing that was found in Antarctica, gets dug up, wakes up, and starts killing and copying people. They found a space ship too, meaning it was an alien. This has its own set of problems. The movie suffers from a simultaneous problem of too much shown in some ways, and insufficient explanations in others. Since we are told it is an alien that can copy people (right down to the cells!), it strains reasoning that an extraterrestrial life form would really be sufficiently compatible with our own physiology. Or at least it does for me. Because I’m something of a fan of the sci fi genre, I’m familiar enough with it that I need a lot to get my suspension of disbelief going, which this movie fails to provide.

As you may guess, this movie fails on the horror side of things as well. We see the monster(s) far too soon, and what good suspense the movie does provide is all too quickly dashed away in favor of looming dread and body horror. These things work well in a sci fi movie, but cause problems for a horror and suspense flick. In attempting both, the movie flounders twice, and is left as impotent as the Antarctic “winter” cold, which was given as much thought by the characters as barely freezing snow day.

Speaking of the characters, they manage to be largely stereotypical. We have douchebag scientist who is still talking about how fascinating the specimen is even after people start dying. We have girl scientist who quickly takes charge and becomes action heroine (which is admittedly much better than the alternative of helpless waif). We have ineffectual softy male. And then a bunch of largely forgettable other dudes from Sweden or Russia or something. The most likable character, in my opinion, was the tough guy who doesn’t speak English.

This is not all to say that I disliked the movie, but rather that there was a great deal that could have been improved. In truth, it was very standard Hollywood fare. Nothing special. If you were already planning to see it and had an idea of what you were getting into, I wouldn’t dissuade you from going to see it still. If you were on the fence about it though, go see something else.

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2 Responses to Movie Review: The Thing

  1. Vinny Bove says:

    Good review! Since the flick is lacking in important characters, they should have cast Bill Paxton to say, “Game over, man!” several times (see Alien).

  2. MetsTheMets says:

    Hrrn. I saw the original a few years back and loved it.

    It opens with a helicopter chasing down a dog, and a guy is leaning out the side trying to shoot the damn thing. It’s great.

    I suggest looking for the original, you’d prolly enjoy it more. And for added fun whenever the thing pops up do a George Takei “Hello.”

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