'The Thing: Special Edition'
(Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Kristofer Hivju, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2011) 2019 / Mill Creek Home Entertainment)
Overview: From the producers of 'Dawn of the Dead' comes the chilling prelude to John Carpenter's cult classic film.
When paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) travels to an isolated outpost in Antarctica for the expedition of a lifetime, she joins an international team that unearths a remarkable discovery.
Their elation quickly turns to fear as they realize that their experiment has freed a mysterious being from its frozen prison.
Paranoia spreads like an epidemic as a creature that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish in this spine-tingling thriller.
Blu-ray Verdict: There is something fundamentally disturbing about a predator alien that can copy exactly anything it devours.
John Carpenter's 1982 version of 'The Thing' was all at once scary, disturbing, and psychological. The hysteria of cabin fever mixed with the slimy, grotesque mechanics of the alien created one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
This prequel, however, takes everything that was great from its predecessor and throws it out the window!
Carpenter's film hinted at a Norwegian outpost in Antarctica that had first discovered the alien. This film gives a disappointing and predictable account of what may have happened there.
The first of many flaws in the script comes when Americans travel several thousand miles to help dig up the alien space ship. Now we know they aren't cut off from the rest of the world, so what's the big deal?
Much of the suspense seems to take place in broad daylight, which makes being scared more of a hassle than something the audience would enjoy.
And as the film goes on, it becomes clear that Carpenter's building of suspense among the characters is now gone in favor of a stupid slasher plot.
The acting is dull and uninteresting — far from the bad ass, bearded Kurt Russell. Instead we get Mary Winstead, who seemingly only got the part because she acts like Jodie Foster.
Heijningen's direction is so boring and dry that it becomes nearly impossible to focus on the screen. So, with a poor script, bad acting, and worse direction, what is to be liked about this film?
But, of course, it's not! The original version was helped tremendously by the fact that the Thing was actually there for the actors to look at.
It made the alien feel more real—seeing the slime and blood covered monster as it sucked up its victim. But in the prequel all we get is a computer animated blob of grossness that is too far mobile to be frightening.
Furthermore, the visual effects are now a computer equation. Gone are the need for complex puppets and molds (though unless I'm mistaken there are a few seen here).
Horrific transformations as the creature fuses with victims are now a render away. All the visuals are serviceable and some as convincing as one would want to see, but to me the closest door to reality involves application of actual objects.
Sure the razor-toothed mouth moves more realistically, but the teeth are more telling than dentures!
Not to mention, the most boring parts of the film are when the Thing is attacking.
Ergo, 'The Thing' prequel suffers from one fundamental flaw — it seeks to answer questions from the original that were far better being left to the viewers' imagination.
As a result, the movie shows us too much, and one can only leave the theater disappointed, and imagining far scarier ways this prequel could have happened.
In closing, and playing journalistic Devil's Advocate, John Carpenter's work was great, but it simply didn't have the magnitude of horror that the original movie had and comparing this prequel with Carpenters version just does the viewer an injustice.
Simply put, everything came together quite well in the ending five minutes here which quickly defined this as a prequel. So, yeah, it's not all that bad, but as a devoted fan of the original, well, it's something that didn't need to be created in the first place (let alone called the exact same thing!) This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Feature Commentary with Director Matthijs van Heijningen and Producer Eric Newman
The Thing Evolves
Fire & Ice
Deleted / Extended Scenes
Official Blu-ray Purchase Link