Remakes, love them or hate them, they sell. And while technically a prequel and not a remake, at times you wonder if the message got passed on to anyone on set. Chronicling the events leading up to the 1982 film of the same name, we get to see the titular Thing extracted from the Antarctica ice before, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say, chaos ensues. Bloody, messy chaos.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is on familiar ground here, as when she tries to convince her crewmates that they are in trouble with a capital T, the indifference she’s met with until blood starts flying is all too similar to her role in Final Destination 3. However, she manages to pull of a fairly convincing scientist, even if the writing or dialogue doesn’t always help, occasionally making large jumps based on relatively little evidence. It’s also nice to see Norwegians on film being played by actual Norwegians, even if some seem there just to raise the body count and others just to ensure continuity with the original material.
The biggest surprise though is probably just how well continuity matches up, with so many subtle nods to the original material and several scenes seemingly lifted straight from it. Dialogue modernised, sets and effects polished up and then boxed off and sent to cinemas. If you remember much of the first film, you’ll find little new here to surprise you. Not unusual for a prequel, but the extent to which some elements are copied seems a little excessive. It’s like the same film, but with more exposition in the beginning, more modern special effects and less ambiguity, which to me was one of the best features of the original.
That’s not to say there’s nothing new here. There’s more beautiful cinematography, especially of the frequent flames shown throughout, more exposition on the discovery of the alien and as mentioned the effects have been shined up nice for the 21st century. A scene around the spaceship we could have done without, but it was something new. The question is whether these updates were worth the lack of ambiguity in the original and the more defined characters, and I’d have to say no. So while this was an entertaining film and something a little different in a saccharine filled Christmas film season, it could have been so much more.
By Chris Collins