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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Thing



"You don't want to be stuck here with a bunch of Norwegians."

The Thing is a prequel to and a remake of John Carpenter's The Thing, which was a remake of a different The Thing, and is about humans encountering an alien monster that can replicate itself. So. Yes. In 1982, comely young paleontologist Mary Elizabeth Winstead is recruited by a thin-lipped Norwegian John Hammond to join him on a secret scientific expedition. Not to a theme park full of dinosaurs, but to Antarctica, where a spacecraft has been buried underneath the glaciers for "100,000 years", give or take. (Apparently, it isn't the same spacecraft Mulder and Scully found in the first X-Files movie. How many alien spacecraft are buried in Antarctica, anyway?)  Also frozen in the ice is... a Thing: an alien creature that looks like an enormous tentacled bug. Soon, The Thing awakens, busts out of the block of ice and begins killing and replicating members of the scientific community in Antarctica, comprised of a lot of Norwegians plus American pilots Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko from Lost) and Joel Edgerton (from Warrior). Paranoia and mistrust settles in among the group ("The Americans are the enemy!" one of the Norwegians yells out) as The Thing murders them one by one and bonds with each human on a cellular level, quickly turning them into all manners of off-putting, grotesque CGI monstrosities. The Thing cheats a bit with the abilities of The Thing, as the rules for whatever sort of tentacled gruesome it can become are never explained. It just turns into whatever the screenplay needs it to be for maximum splattered viscera on the screen, usually with teeth coming out of chests like Venus fly traps. Eventually, The Thing settles into a CGI bug-like creature made of two combined humans to stalk Winstead and Edgerton. The Thing grows compelling when Winstead, the smartest character in the movie, figures out a means to identify whether her fellow humans are infected (The Thing can't absorb metal so whoever has metal fillings in their teeth is safe). She frightfully but doggedly confronts each survivor in a gripping scene. Since fire is the only thing that can kill The Thing, pretty much everything and everyone goes up in flames. Through it all, Winstead, her wide bright eyes betraying her terror as she find the determination to do what she knows must be done to keep The Thing isolated from humanity, emerges as a real movie star. Winstead evokes Signourney Weaver as Ripley in the best possible way, with Edgerton as her Michael Biehn. Their climactic scene together and Winstead's reaction to it are the best moments of The Thing. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is really quite something.