DVD Review: The Thing

Today sees the release of last year’s prequel/remake/reboot/reimagining/defrost of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Okay, so out of those things it’s probably most accurately described as a prequel (or a defrost), although the title and largely unimaginative plot likely added to the confusion that it may in fact be a remake.

Here are the good things about it: Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Here are the bad things about it: the lack of originality.

And, quite honestly, the rest of it is just plain fine. It’s hard to get too animated about a film that to all intents and purposes that you’ve seen before and executed better. But lets not forget that we’re referring to one of the all-time great examples of the genre – you aren’t going to go too far wrong by sticking closely to that winning formula, but you aren’t going to break any new ground either.

Primarily, The Thing is a very safe movie, and that’s to both its credit and its detriment. It won’t get any fanboys up in arms about the way it badly tried to explain some of the questions that were left unanswered by the original, nor will it have them wildly celebrating the classic creature’s return. Having the prequel lead into the original film actually feels like an afterthought, but that too almost seems like a deliberate choice in order to avoid the usual accusation leveled at prequels; that they lack stakes. Rather than an afterthought, it’s yet another one of the compromises that results in the finished product being thoroughly mediocre.

One of the few contentious areas of the film may be the increase in CGI compared to the stripped down practical effects of the first film. They’re not gone entirely, but updating the creature for a 21st century audience seems to erode the visceral, terrifying reality that the original offered – and perhaps that’s representative of the film as a whole.

It may not be the kind of film you rush out to the cinema for then (I certainly didn’t), but it’s probably fine to curl up on the sofa with on a Friday night. And hey, I’m reviewing the DVD here, so I guess that’s a recommendation.

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