By David Burrola

Release : October 14, 2011

 Genre: Horror

 Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

 Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen

 Rating: 3/5 Overall not a bad film.

  Researchers in the arctic find an amazing specimen and call in specialists to recover and study it for science. But they soon discover the horror of this ‘thing’ that can look like anyone and takes its prey with viscous efficiency. Stranded in a snow storm, neither will be able to tell who is human, and who is the Thing.

The original Thing by John Carpenter was a cult classic and a marvel of special effects at the time of its release, so I did have hopes for this being similar is vein of having some good old school special effects thrown in with the CGI that’s prevalent today. I am disappointed though, that its more of a CGI fest.

While the film isn’t bad, and it does match the same sense of paranoia and vulnerability that the original had, it doesn’t have the same impact on the effects department the original had.

The movie opens with 3 nordic men in a snow truck following some signal, and one telling a pretty damn funny joke. As they reach the destination they fall into a crack and find something amazing.

Jump to the US, where our heroine is studying a specimen in a lab as she is asked to go on a trip to the arctic to study a fantastical find. She accepts and is taken to our setting, a small outpost that maintains as our setting for the remainder of the film.

Now the rest of the plot is fairly formulaic in the most part for horror films, but it does do a couple things pretty well, in that it makes some characters do smart things right from the start, and it quickly puts Kate(Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in charge of the situation. She gains the trust of the survivors, even one of which doesn’t speak english. Also their first encounter with the Thing is actually played fairly well, as it starts as the typical ‘guy makes dumb descision’ to ‘we sure took care of that real quick.

Once the Thing actually starts to do its routine of looking like another of the reaserchers and then killing people its pretty well staged and acted to let you keep guessing, though some of them you’ll figure it out right away. And here, in the effects department is where its pretty much what you’d expect from a strict CGI approach. While the animation is good, and the design of them very disturbing, matching what the original did, its still got that look that’s unmistakably fake. There are some scenes where the lighting makes it look better as we can only see so much of the ‘creature’, and it makes it look more ominous, there’s still that disconnect.

 I will say this, for any gamer out there that’s played Dead Space and its sequel, you’ll recognize a clear influence on the shape/form of the Thing’s appearance when it goes all groady on you.

 Over all its not a bad film, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a very good protagonists here, and her character is written very well. She’s not a helpless damsel waiting for the male lead to save her, its more reminiscent of Sigorney Weavers’ Ripley in Aliens, in that she’s vulnerable and falible but strong willed and very intuitive to situations and quick to think on her feet.

 If you’re looking for something that’s really worth that R rating, and maybe something to gross out your friends or girlfriend/boyfriend then this is a good one to pick. If you’re more of a purists to the original’s strengths and merits, you might wanna bust out your special edition DVD(they have that right?).

Reel Steel

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