I went out to see the new “The Thing” movie yesterday. As you may know, I love monster movies. The 1982 version of “The Thing” is one of my all time favorite scary movies. It’s creepy, paranoid, claustrophobic and the effects are great. 1982 was pre-CGI, so all the effects were practical, not computer-animated.
So when I first started seeing commercials for the new movie, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to see it. I hate when they remake good movies that were made during my movie-going lifetime. Plus, they put a girl in it.
It’s not that I have something against girls in action movies. It just seemed like a crass “movie exec” kind of decision. There were no girls in the 1982 version; it was just a bunch of dudes chilling and killing around a research station in Antarctica. So I could just see some gold necklaced putz in a big office in Hollywood going, “Jesus Christ, we gotta get a broad in there, or else it’s just a big frozen sausage party. Now go get me some more cocaine!”
But then I read that this wasn’t actually a remake, but a prequel. It was meant to show what happened immediately before the 1982 version begun. OK, now I was interested.
How did it stack up? Pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. You could see a lot of derivatives though and not just from the 1982 movie. Most notably were the nods to the Alien franchise, which practically wrote the book on Creepy Monsters Stalking Humans in Remote Places. And the girl, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, owed much to the awesomeness of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. I kept waiting for her to yell, “Get away from her, you THING!”
There were many similar elements from the 1982 movie, but they didn’t play out as one would expect. They would go in a direction that you would expect, like separating a Thing Suspect into an out-building, or formulating a test for “Thing-ness,” but then they would pivot away from the past and set a new course.
The effects were generally very good, and judging from the number of puppeteers in the end credits, they used a good deal of practical effects. The only times I could really tell that CGI was used were whenever they would light a “Thing” on fire. The burning Things looked very animatey against the white snow.
It was hard to tell about the acting, because a lot of it was in Norwegian, with subtitles. (I’m sure Cassie would approve.) In fact, most of the cast was made up of Scandinavians. I haven’t seen that many Ø symbols in the credits since Monty Python the Holy Grail. But they all looked either suave and blond-stubbly like Bjorn Borg or stout and fully bearded like Gimli, dwarf from Lord of the Rings.
The one thing I found missing was that moment in the film that just summed up the experience. Like in the 1982 version, when the head of one of the dudes pulls up and off the body, uses a whip-like tongue to pull itself under a table, and then sprouts giant crab-legs to skitter out the door. Anyone that’s ever seen the movie will never forget that scene and it’s always the first thing mentioned in any discussion. In this movie, you could say there’s a freaky “body crab” mutation but it just didn’t pack the same “WTF” wallop. Perhaps we’ve become jaded as moviegoers, in the last 30 years.
The other thing is there was not big line of dialogue that imprints on you. (Possibly because it may have been in Norwegian.) In the 1982 version, I always think of old Wilford Brimley, as he was destroying the lab, bellowing, “You think it wanted to stay a dog??? That thing wanted to be UUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSS!!!”
This was right before they locked him in a storage shed, to try to keep him from making commercials telling us all about how to treat our diabet-us.
While the movie kind of ended with a thud, it did make good on its promise to take us up to the beginning of the 1982 movie. All in all, it was a decent horror flick and worthy of carrying on the franchise. But all “Things” being equal, they really weren’t. 1982 still comes out on top.
The Mojo Boogie
The Steelers play at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars today and it won’t be on local TV here, so I’ll be off to Jilly’s to see the game. The last time I went to Jilly’s, the Steelers beat the Seahawks in convincing fashion, so that makes my mojo apparel choices pretty simple. I’ll be wearing the same stuff:
Black Steelers polo with white piping, gold-front hat and Steelers socks.
Sitcom Kelly may or may not be joining me; I don’t know for sure yet, as I go to press.
OK, I know I’m not really “going to press;” I just always wanted to say that, ever since taking journalism classes.