The Thing, aka The Thing: The Beginning, also The Thing Awakens is a 2011 prequel to the classic 1982 film of the same name. I was excited to see this film, as the viewing the original a few weeks ago really impressed me. But… not so much here. This might be due to no cast returning and the set-up at the end to tie it into the 1982 film felt sloppy and tacked on. Coupled with the over use of CGI left a sour taste, nothing overpowering. But enough to taint the enjoy-ability of the film.
The film opens in the Antarctic with a team of Norwegian scientists consisting of Edvard (Trond Espen Seim), Jonas (Kristofer Hivju), Olav (Jan Gunnar Roise), Karl (Carsten Bjornlund), Juliette (Kim Bubbs), Lars (Jorgen Langhelle), Henril (Jo Adrian Haavind), Colin (Jonathan Lloyd Walker) and Peder (Stig Henrik Hoff), being joined by Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who was recruited by Dr. Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) and his assistant Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) to investigate the discovery of an alien vessel found buried in the ice. After visiting the site and extracting the creature found in the ice it is taken back to the Norwegian Base for study. While crew celebrates their discovery the thing, Derek (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) witnesses the thing burst free from the ice. He warns the others and they discover the Thing has already killed the dog and the scientists go looking for it. The Thing is found by Olav and Henrik and are quickly attacked. Henrik is captured and consumed by the thing before the others can arrive. When they do, they torch it and bring the remains back inside for study where Kate discovers that the Thing was consuming and replicating Henriks cells. Derek, Carter (Joel Edgerton) and Griggs (Paul Braunstein) take Olav who’s in shock/injured by helicopter to seek help. Meanwhile Kate finds filling and blood in the bathroom shower and realizes that the Thing isn’t dead and has replicated someone else. She tries to flag down the helicopter, but its too late and Olav is attacked by Griggs, who has been consumed and replicated by the Thing. This naturally results in the helicopter crashing. When Kate returns to the site of blood in the bathroom, it’s gone having been cleaned up. Meaning that the Thing is still alive, and could be anyone…
So there are quite a few things I genuinely enjoyed. Other than the end scene right before and during the initial parts of the credits, I really enjoyed how they handled the connections to the first film. The damage done to the Arctic Base is spot on, right down to the bloody ax in the wall and this was no accident. A lot of work went into making sure that all the points lined up with the original.
That said, the film still felt too modern. Being set in 1981, it doesn’t feel like it. Nothing felt like I was watching events unfolding before modern-day. The only thing that made it feel old was the lack of cell phones. But clothing, hair and general appearance felt more like it was set in the present day rather than prior to.
The other beef I have is that, SPOILER, Kate survives. I’m a big fan of the final girl trope, and I drag that tired old trope out just about every chance I get. That said, this film didn’t need one and it’s inclusion felt forced, weakening the film. I like Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an actress, I don’t adore her work as I do other actresses. But, I’m never upset to see she’s getting work. But her delivery was too dry and felt disconnected from the rest of the film. I think this due to them wanting to distance the character from that of McReady by giving her traits from the character Ripley from the Aliens films. She survives a film, that in my opinion needed to have the entire cast (except for the men chasing the dog during the beginning of The Thing (1981)) dead. But no, for some reason she was too valuable to kill off.
Final thoughts, for a prequel that came thirty years after its predecessor, it could have been worse. Could of it have been better? Without the direct involvement of John Carpenter I don’t think so. The cast put in a lot of time to make sure that this film didn’t detract from the original. With that said, it would have been near impossible to match its quality. But they tried and why they fell short it wasn’t by that large of a margin. Making The Thing a worthwhile watch if you’re a fan of the original, even if it’s just to form your own opinion on it. 7/10