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Not great, but not bad just lacking that magic touch
on 10 September 2014
I watched this out of curiosity being a big of a fan of the John Carpenter 80's original, this version is not a cut and dry re-make of that film but plugs the gap in the story from the initial Norwegian contact with the space craft right up to the ending which is where the first film starts from.
Unusually the director has chosen to shoot on film (no problem there few complaints about the cinematography from me it's decent)
But this isn't just a straight prequel as the lead character of Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) does seem to take on a role that's not a million miles away from a female version of the Kurt Russell original. Some elements of the story whilst in keeping with the general vibe doesn't always tie up as well as it should do, for example in the first film the "Thing" only reveals itself when it has no choice, but here it seems a bit too keen to leap into action for the pleasure of viewers.
Story wise it fills in the gaps in a way which is in most ways respectful to the original. Cast wise the lead character fits the expected role pretty well, Mary Winstead is quite good with her performance if a little predictable at times (which is a problem), the rest of the cast is competent but few stand out. Effects wise the first film was rather good for the time period and again here it's up to par, the real problem is that "special Carpenter sauce" that really pulled the 80's version into the viewer it immersed horror/sci fi fans mostly down to one very important part of film making "tension". The first film had it in spades, including the simplistic but effective Carpenter soundtrack. Here whilst there are a few scary moments, the sense of despair and fight for survival never really comes into play, and that's one of the film's main problems.
For fans of the original the concept of a prequel is quite a good one (not a good idea to clone the first movie scene by scene and remember the 80's version is a re-make of the older The Thing from Another World) but clearly there are moments here where bits of that film have been borrowed to try to beef up the production and bolster the impact. It doesn't really pull it off, but falls into that category or merely "OK" rather than terrible or amazing. Worth a watch for Thing fans, but we all know the 1981 version is the one you'll keep coming back to.