A few fondly remembered movies from the 1980's have beeen subject to the remake treatment lately. But when it came to The Thing [DVD] [1982
], the makers of this new version opted instead to do a prelude [or prequel, if you will] to the original version. Although as anyone who has seen that will know [and you probably have if you're reading this] that film did offer the opportunity for such.
[Minor spoilers follow in regards to it, so be careful if you haven't seen it...]
The John Carpenter classic began with people from an American Antarctic research base investigating strange behaviour by two people from a nearby Norwegian base, and coming into contact as a result with an alien creature that absorbs and takes on the characteristics of any living thing it comes into contact with.
The Carpenter version didn't exactly reveal much about what happened at the Norwegian base, thus this new version takes the opportunity to do that, rather than simply remake what John Carpenter did back in 1980's.
Doctor Kate Lloyd [Mary Elizabeth Winstead] is a palentologist called in to help when the Norwegian team find a spaceship under ice in Antarctica, and a body of a creature near it. When the creature comes to life and starts to absorb and kill people, those at the base have a fight for survival on their hands. They have no idea if any of their colleagues can be trusted. But the creature can't be allowed to get out, or the future of the human race could be endangered.
This is thus set in 1982, and the production design is pretty good because it does recreate an 80's feel very well. In many ways it does feel as if could have been a product of the time. The visual effects in the Carpenter version were all done the old fashioned way - it being long before the days of cgi - but the ones in here do use a mixture of animatronics and puppets and stunt work, with a bit of cgi as well. How you react to that depends on how you feel about visual effects. But by and large they are pretty good.
The film does have a cast of largely Norwegian actors. When you would expect Hollywood to go for Americans playing Norwegians, so that's another point in it's favour. As is the fact that some of the dialogue is done in Norwegian with English subtitles.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead does carry the film well and make for a decent heroine.
But if you have the original, once the action kicks off, it can initially feel a bit over familiar.
Yet it does manage some decent surprises and shock moments and paranoia. And it gains momentum as it continues. In the final third the movie barely has a chance to pause for breath. Thus it does keep you very involved as a viewer.
It is also quite clever in the way it ties in with the Carpenter version because of the way it takes care to make sure what happens matches up with what was hinted at in that.
Although those who have seen the original will thus know how this version is going to turn out, the ending is an image that might stay with you for a while.
Do keep watching during the final credits, though.
This, like a lot of revisitations of old movies, perhaps wasn't a necessary new version. But it's a capable bit of film making for what it is. If you've not seen the original, then you'll get a decent bit of science fiction horror. If you have, then you'll get a fond homage to a 1980's classic.
And if you're fond of the Eurovision Song contest, you'll get an interesting surprise....
The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:
Languages: English, German.
Subtitles: English, German, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish.
Be aware that the extras only have subtitles in English, German, and Italian.
The disc begins with a few trailers, but you can skip them via the next button the dvd remote control.
The extras are:
A commentary from the director and the producer.
Some deleted/extended scenes. These can be watched individually or all in a row. If you do the latter they run for nine minutes in total. A couple are essential viewing because they do show the fate of a couple of characters.
There's a thirteen minute long making of feature called 'The Thing Evolves' which is quite good. If watching this watch it to the very end of the credits.
Plus a four minute long feature called 'Fire and Ice' which is all about the stunt work done for the scenes which involve the use of flamethrowers. Epileptics beware some flashing images at the end of this.