Revisiting The Thing (2011)

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The Thing from 2011 is still disappointing. It’s a great premise – instead of doing a remake the movie seeks to explain what transpired at the Norwegian base. It was made by people who are clearly passionate about the original film and spent a lot of time and effort trying to perfect the set and cast. It feels like a watered-down version of the original and I think that is largely due to the narrative. It tries to make it fresh and unique but we are ultimately watching characters go through the motions of figuring out things we already know thanks to the 1982 film (e.g. “It is imitating his cells perfectly…we can’t let anyone leave the base til we know who’s who…”). This film also suffers from studio interference with both the awful CGI inserted in the place of practical effects as well as a reworked ending where they literally had to pixel an alien out of the shot in order to redo the final scenes:

“I need to get something out of the shot but make it look science fictiony…” “Say no more fam”

Why should you watch this film then? Because Mary Elizabeth Winstead is brilliant as the inspiring protagonist Kate Lloyd. As much as I love 1982’s The Thing it was an obvious choice to have women in this one. And despite being 1 of 2 women in a base full of men romance IS NEVER BROUGHT UP. That’s amazing for a movie with 1 man and 1 woman – let alone a ratio like this one.

Kate is smart and confident and stubborn when it’s important. No one could compare to Kurt Russell’s rugged antihero armed with a bottle of Jim Bean and a flamethrower and this one succeeds because it doesn’t even try to match him. Instead Kate is quiet and thoughtful in a way that simply commands respect. A fantastic moment happens when Kate devises her own version of the blood test by examining people for fillings after realizing the alien can’t imitate inorganic matter. A male character comments in Norwegian “she’s clever” and another male character begrudgingly nods. The first then adds, “and she’s in charge now” because that’s precisely why has happened without so much as a vote or consensus.

I highly suggest buckling down through the bad to appreciate the good with this one. Kate is a true feminist heroine and such a pleasant surprise in this otherwise forgettable backstory.

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