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The F*cking Black Sheep: The Thing (2011)

May. 9, 2013by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

The Thing (2011)
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

“It’s frightening to take the creature out of the dark so we can really witness the Thing’s nightmare inducing shenanigans.”

At first thought, remaking The Thing is stupid. But then again people do stupid things all the time. Like snort condoms up their noses. Or smoke meth. Or read TMZ. However, no law, no public pressure will ever prevent stupidity. It’s just a part of human nature.

Granted, remaking a movie isn’t stupid. Usually, it’s based on a smart decision – to make money. However, it’s stupid anyway to bitch about a movie remake like the Thing. Yes, I believe John Carpenter’s 1982 film is a flawless classic. It’s perfect. But we all need to remember that Carpenter’s film is a remake of the Howard Hawk’s 1951 film, The Thing From Another World which itself was adapted from John W. Campbell Jr.’s 1938 short story “Who Goes There?” Why not remake it? As long as the new film offers something new and makes it feel unique, go for it. Bring something new to the table, like the 2011 The Thing does.

Ok, let me back up. The new Thing isn’t technically a remake, right? It’s a “prequel,” which we all know is a wheel barrel load of donkey shit. How can you make a prequel to a thirty-year-old film? Well, yeah I guess you can, but it’ll never completely match the look and tone. It’ll never feel right (Star Wars, anyone?). This version of the Thing has the actors in 1980s clothes and mostly the Norwegian dudes sporting 80s hairdos (they should’ve forced Mary Elizabeth Winstead into a Tiffany-feathered wig and gave Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje the Lionel Richie perm), but everything is too crisp and clean compared to Carpenter’s. Maybe at least match the film? This version of the Thing would have been better if they had placed the setting 30-50 years after Carpenter’s. Why not? Why not keep the basic premise but do something shockingly new?

With all that said (sorry, I had to get that out) I dig this attempt for what it is. A standalone film that connects a storyline to another storyline. That’s really the only way to watch it. The movie looks great, the acting is solid, and the effects all work. In particular, Winstead and Joel Edgerton really stand out in the film. Winstead gives the movie softness, playing against the machismo of the Kurt Russell role (though obviously a new character). And thankfully, she avoided going the Lt. Ripley approach that nearly all genre female actors attempted to embody after Alien. Her character adds a sense of naivety and innocence that adds a new dynamic. There is a bit of repetitiveness with another autopsy sequence, another burning, and more snow, but f*ck it. It’s great being back in this world.

Now as for the actual creature, it looks good (though they should have avoided the CGI touchups. The helicopter sequence doesn’t look too hot either. My favorite sequence is when female #2 becomes the thing and goes on a rampage. It’s frightening to take the creature out of the dark so we can really witness its nightmare inducing shenanigans. Sure, Carpenter kept his Thing in the dark, but technology has come far enough along that there’s no need for it to hide in the shadows. After all, we know what it is. We know what’s coming. So give us what we want, and that’s what this Thing does.

If the film has a major flaw its that it suffers from the Superman Returns syndrome. It respected the source material too much. Perhaps they should have pulled an Evil Dead. Connect the past and the present, but don’t try too hard.  However, by breaking up the boys club formula that defined both previous films, it creates an important difference that allows this movie to stand on its own two mutated thing legs.

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9:30PM on 08/01/2013
I dug it. I never get caught up in comparing remakes to the originals. There is always going to be remakes and I don't mind them. There is only so many different stories you can tell and if you can update a story with newer technology then I say go for it.
I dug it. I never get caught up in comparing remakes to the originals. There is always going to be remakes and I don't mind them. There is only so many different stories you can tell and if you can update a story with newer technology then I say go for it.
Your Reply:



4:30PM on 05/12/2013

It would have been fine if they.....

Didn't write in female characters or Americans(it was a Norwegian Camp!), used exact same layout and details of the camp and video from JC version, incorporate the same technology of the day, didn't have computer graphics, kept a claustrophobic feel, had a slow build in tension and the discovery of the assimilation...oh wait, that would make a much better movie but people want is fast action and great graphics and hot chicks...so we can't do that...let's make a sucky movie instead......I don't
Didn't write in female characters or Americans(it was a Norwegian Camp!), used exact same layout and details of the camp and video from JC version, incorporate the same technology of the day, didn't have computer graphics, kept a claustrophobic feel, had a slow build in tension and the discovery of the assimilation...oh wait, that would make a much better movie but people want is fast action and great graphics and hot chicks...so we can't do that...let's make a sucky movie instead......I don't I know about everyone else, but what I always envisioned at the Norwegian Camp is that they stumbled across the ship, then eventually found the thing frozen in the ice, brought it back, got it out of the ice, started to run the tests on it, it disappeared because ti assimilated someone, then the arguments started on what happened to it, while that was going on, one by one was getting taken over, then it was discovered, everyone started freaking out and couldn't trust any one, they tried to kill it to only stumble across fire being their best weapon, by the time all this happened most of everyone was turned or dead, they found a test for it, by then only the two guys were left that were in the helicopter and that dog. I am assuming the dogs were taken care of quite quickly except that one who got away. The initially discover should have been more terrifying than Carpenters version. Obviously by the behavior of the thing in JC's version, it learned a few things from the first round about like destroying all the vehicles to get around on. But writing that script would take a lot of work and time. I think they should have hired some fans as consultants from the outpost31.com site. They would have had a way better movie. I recommend a redo with a better team. ....
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+2
7:06PM on 05/10/2013

OK but

Get rid of Final 10 min on alien ship, evil scientist guy being the real "bad guy" of the film, and all of the poor cgi effects and you would have a pretty good film. It's not bad as is but is only a few edits and practical effects from being a real worthy sequel.
Get rid of Final 10 min on alien ship, evil scientist guy being the real "bad guy" of the film, and all of the poor cgi effects and you would have a pretty good film. It's not bad as is but is only a few edits and practical effects from being a real worthy sequel.
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5:40AM on 05/10/2013
Although there's a bit too much CGI, i still loved this movie. Loved the easter eggs and tie-ins. When the theme kicked up and the chopper took off I got giddy. I just think we really could have gotten worse by getting a remake instead of a prequel. I'll take a prequel/sequel that at least actually TRIES to establish itself within a property than a roll the dice remake any day.

Also makes for a fantastic two-fer. I have two friends who have never seen either. Gonna do a social experiment and
Although there's a bit too much CGI, i still loved this movie. Loved the easter eggs and tie-ins. When the theme kicked up and the chopper took off I got giddy. I just think we really could have gotten worse by getting a remake instead of a prequel. I'll take a prequel/sequel that at least actually TRIES to establish itself within a property than a roll the dice remake any day.

Also makes for a fantastic two-fer. I have two friends who have never seen either. Gonna do a social experiment and separately watch T1982/T2011 with one, then T2011/T1982 with the other. Interested to see their thoughts.
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4:38PM on 05/09/2013
Of course the original The Thing is much more superior than this movie. However, The Thing (2011) is an above average remake/sequel with decent special F/X and a good double-bill with the original The Thing.
Of course the original The Thing is much more superior than this movie. However, The Thing (2011) is an above average remake/sequel with decent special F/X and a good double-bill with the original The Thing.
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4:06PM on 05/09/2013

No

The original Thing was fun because of the FX and creature design joined together by the outstanding performances of all the actors . With this one, they took the lazy way out and opted for poor CGI. The performances are ok, but the creatures didn't feel organic, and at times had a SyFy movie feel to it rather than a Thing prequel. It's not really worth watching again.
The original Thing was fun because of the FX and creature design joined together by the outstanding performances of all the actors . With this one, they took the lazy way out and opted for poor CGI. The performances are ok, but the creatures didn't feel organic, and at times had a SyFy movie feel to it rather than a Thing prequel. It's not really worth watching again.
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2:25PM on 05/09/2013

plus.

also i liked that they didn't force
a relationship with the female lead with
any of the guys...
also i liked that they didn't force
a relationship with the female lead with
any of the guys...
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2:22PM on 05/09/2013

MEH-STACULAR!

had a lot of potential, but in the end was unnecessary
we reviewed it compared to the original, but what's there to compare, really?
[link]
had a lot of potential, but in the end was unnecessary
we reviewed it compared to the original, but what's there to compare, really?
[link]
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2:14PM on 05/09/2013
It certainly wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I thought they did a pretty nice job of matching the look and tone of the original. What's heart-breaking is they actually created a practical or animatronic effect for almost everything in the movie but some fucking idiot executives made the call to CGI over everything.
Check out this video: [link]

Those effects look fantastic and had they made it into the final cut, would've made the film a lot better. At least, aesthetically. It's so sad to
It certainly wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I thought they did a pretty nice job of matching the look and tone of the original. What's heart-breaking is they actually created a practical or animatronic effect for almost everything in the movie but some fucking idiot executives made the call to CGI over everything.
Check out this video: [link]

Those effects look fantastic and had they made it into the final cut, would've made the film a lot better. At least, aesthetically. It's so sad to see such great artistic talent and craftsmanship go to waste.
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12:33PM on 05/09/2013

No Thanks

I didn't like it but I didn't hate it, make sense? When news broke of a prequel I was rather offended by the idea. Carpenters Thing and Howard Hawk's Thing From Another World are two of my favorite films. I went into the theater determined to hate this version, which I didn't. I will say, i didn't care for the abundance of CG. Part of the scary charm of Carpenters Thing was what you didn't see and when you did see it, you saw Rob Botins outstanding work. It probably gave us more of what you'd
I didn't like it but I didn't hate it, make sense? When news broke of a prequel I was rather offended by the idea. Carpenters Thing and Howard Hawk's Thing From Another World are two of my favorite films. I went into the theater determined to hate this version, which I didn't. I will say, i didn't care for the abundance of CG. Part of the scary charm of Carpenters Thing was what you didn't see and when you did see it, you saw Rob Botins outstanding work. It probably gave us more of what you'd want from a "prequel" than say Prometheus(don't get me started). If anything, do a sequel...I always wanted to know what happened to MacReady & Childs other than the obvious. I'm not saying throw another sombrero on an older Kurt Russell but you could give some explanation with it set 20-25 years after the film. So, my overall reaction to the 2011 Thing was very "meh".
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12:31PM on 05/09/2013

No Thanks

I didn't like it but I didn't hate it, make sense? When news broke of a prequel I was rather offended by the idea. Carpenters Thing and Howard Hawk's Thing From Another World are two of my favorite films. I went into the theater determined to hate this version, which I didn't. I will say, i didn't care for the abundance of CG. Part of the scary charm of Carpenters Thing was what you didn't see and when you did see it, you saw Rob Botins outstanding work. It probably gave us more of what you'd
I didn't like it but I didn't hate it, make sense? When news broke of a prequel I was rather offended by the idea. Carpenters Thing and Howard Hawk's Thing From Another World are two of my favorite films. I went into the theater determined to hate this version, which I didn't. I will say, i didn't care for the abundance of CG. Part of the scary charm of Carpenters Thing was what you didn't see and when you did see it, you saw Rob Botins outstanding work. It probably gave us more of what you'd want from a "prequel" than say Prometheus(don't get me started). If anything, do a sequel...I always wanted to know what happened to MacReady & Childs other than the obvious. I'm not saying throw another sombrero on an older Kurt Russell but you could give some explanation with it set 20-25 years after the film. So, my overall reaction to the 2011 Thing was very "meh".
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11:19AM on 05/09/2013

Didn't make it 20 minutes.

Before I pulled the disc out, took it back to the RedBox and kicked it. This movie is unwatchable because you can't help but compare it to Carpenter's at every step of the way. If I could somehow wipe my memory of the 82 version I may have been able to overlook the piss-poor CGI faketry (yes, faketry) and enjoyed this on some drunken Monday night level but it's impossible. This movie was and remains a horrible idea.
Before I pulled the disc out, took it back to the RedBox and kicked it. This movie is unwatchable because you can't help but compare it to Carpenter's at every step of the way. If I could somehow wipe my memory of the 82 version I may have been able to overlook the piss-poor CGI faketry (yes, faketry) and enjoyed this on some drunken Monday night level but it's impossible. This movie was and remains a horrible idea.
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+0
10:55AM on 05/09/2013

NOT BAD

I actually dug this film quite a bit. If only Prometheus had been this reverent to it's source material. I'd say the major flaw is with a few sequences of CGI that did not quite work for me. I really wish more modern films would take the time to use more practical effects. But for a huge fan of the original, this could have gone a lot worse.
I actually dug this film quite a bit. If only Prometheus had been this reverent to it's source material. I'd say the major flaw is with a few sequences of CGI that did not quite work for me. I really wish more modern films would take the time to use more practical effects. But for a huge fan of the original, this could have gone a lot worse.
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10:33AM on 05/09/2013

Not on the same level as Carpenter's Thing

I was pretty much against this film at first, sequel, no prequel it all sounded like crap until I saw the trailer and it showed promise. I enjoyed this film, but it's no where near the level of Carpenter's Thing but it's fun to watch. I like the final minutes in the camp that explained some of the events seen in the first film, like the burned body, suicide and the scene that starts off the helicopter dog chase. The CGI monsters weren't as creepy as the practical ones from the '80s. The one
I was pretty much against this film at first, sequel, no prequel it all sounded like crap until I saw the trailer and it showed promise. I enjoyed this film, but it's no where near the level of Carpenter's Thing but it's fun to watch. I like the final minutes in the camp that explained some of the events seen in the first film, like the burned body, suicide and the scene that starts off the helicopter dog chase. The CGI monsters weren't as creepy as the practical ones from the '80s. The one thing that really crippled this movie is that most of the scares/monster reveals were shown in the trailer, so the film lacked any element of surprise.
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