Despite the completely unchanged title, this movie is not a remake but a direct prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter’s “The Thing” with events took place days (or weeks) that lead to the event in the first movie. Besides that, both movies are (nearly) identical. Which of course, would enrage purists (and they do, although for a good reason, if I may add). So I went into this movie, expecting nothing. It turns out, however, that I was very surprised with how very entertaining this movie is.
“The Thing” is a shape-shifter alien able to disguise itself into any life form (dogs, humans, although I wonder if it could turns itself into mosquitos because if it could, well, damn, there will be absolutely no hope for human race as we know it). In the first movie, this alien “discovers” the humans situated on a remote scientific camp in Antarctica. In this movie, still taking place in Antarctica, is how the humans “discovers” the alien in the first place. Everything else is almost identical. The chase, the realization, the “are you real, or are you an alien?” routine, even down to flamethrower details. Another difference is that instead of Jeff Bridges leading the show, this movie has Mary Elizabeth Winstead and to put it bluntly, Winstead’s character is one of my favorite female characters of the year 2011.
I have often complained about the lack of non-stereotyped female characters in the movie nowadays. They are either slutty, hovering in the background with no sense of importance, and as flat as my laptop screen that any bump, even a slight one is such a rarity that if it comes to pass, I’d have a smile to my face at the end of a movie.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character in this movie gives me just that. She’s not a damsel-in-distress, prone to drag down our heroes and questionable decisions that makes us rolled our eyes in disbeliefs, nor is she a whining beauty queen more afraid to get a clip on her nail than blasting a deadly looking creature with a flamethrower. She’s not afraid to take a chance, and stepping up to the plate when she’s the only one reasonable enough in a room full of angry, afraid, desperate, and selfish men. A strong-willed, sure, and independent woman the kind of woman I liked. And sure enough, I am literally still in love with her character when the movie ends.
Aside from her character, I am appreciative to the idea of the team behind “The Thing” went animatronic route than going full CGI with the “thing.” The first movie was lauded because of such effective use of special effects with animatronics. The “thing” from that original movie, nearly thirty years ago, is still very good on today’s screening pleasure and with agreeably more sophisticated equipments they have nowadays, it is to be expected that the animatronics should be manifolds better than the original. Now I can’t vouch about it being better by manifolds or not, but they are definitely more prominent as the scenes involving the “thing,” in term of time, is longer than the original. But I’m pretty sure that the novelty would’ve been very different, and not in a good sense, had the scenes went full or partial CGI.
All in all, for a monster movie, and one that has received quite a backlash for a rather un-creative execution, this is a pretty good one. Absolutely not at the level of say, “District 9,” and comparing Winstead’s character (see, I don’t even remember her proper name) to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley would not do both a justice, it’s still an enjoyable one. Plus, Winstead’s character could easily elicit love from yours truly here. And that is definitely a good thing.