'The Thing'

Review: ‘The Thing’

'The Thing'
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in 'The Thing' (Universal)

Full disclosure: John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my favorite movies of all time. I also have a great deal of respect for “Who Goes There?,” the original story by John W. Campbell, Jr., and believe that The Thing From Another World, directed by Christian Nyby and/or Howard Hawks, is well-made and a good deal of fun. Each stands on its own, each reflects a strong creative vision, and each is a product of its time.

Nonetheless, I was fully prepared to follow the new version of The Thing, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., as it charted its own distinctive course. The film’s biggest problem, it turns out, is not that it fails to reach the heights established by its predecessors — it doesn’t come close — but that it doesn’t even live up to its own potential.

Eric Heisserer’s script starts things off with a good dirty joke told in Norwegian, which would seem to indicate the desired tone: less serious, more jocular. As the story develops, it becomes clear that the filmmakers are, indeed, more interested in crafting an action-packed creature feature, more akin to an updated version of the 1951 edition, rather than something like Carpenter’s dark, almost nihilistic 1982 take on the material.

That would be fine if the new version established its own identity. But the tone is tossed hither and thither, losing its jocularity when the full extent of the danger posed by the reawakened alien creature becomes known, and settling in for a long, sober fight for life that holds few surprises. The craftsmanship needed for a muscular action picture is missing; the set pieces are extremely limited — creature appears, followed by yelling and screaming, and then either CGI’d body horror or bursts of flames setting tiny rooms on fire — and they’re staged and shot in very conventional fashion.

— From my review at Twitch.

‘The Thing’ is now playing wide across the multiplex.