Skip to main content

'The Thing' (2011) Angry Movie Review

Thingly thing that thinged my thingy thing thing with a thing that could not thing its thing, ya thing me? Things thinged in The Thing.

From the Producers of FAKE 'Dawn of the Dead'.

From the Producers of FAKE 'Dawn of the Dead'.

Back in 2011…

Let’s rewind back to the year 2011: I was 19 years old, about a year into my miserable stint in the Art Institute, and I first heard about there being some sort of new movie that would be a prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, which was simply called… The Thing

I saw the trailers for it, and I avoided that sh*t like the plague. I loved the ’82 picture, there was no way I was going to put myself through hell for Universal Studios to make a quick buck off of the name. The movie came and went in theaters, I didn’t bother going to see it and neither did my family. That was basically the end of that.

2012…

Early 2012, I was starting to grow my movie collection and I came to the frightening realization that I didn’t own John Carpenter’s The Thing. Not even on VHS, for some reason my family felt no need to buy it since we continuously saw it pop up so much on movie channels.

Being the film fanatic that I am, I felt the need to officially own the movie. For the most part, I hate ordering movies from online, it’s not nearly as satisfying as when I would accidentally by happenstance come across a movie while skimming through the DVDs inside of a shop. This time though, I really wanted The Thing and I was having trouble finding it in stores. So I went onto Best Buy’s online store, ordered Carpenter’s The Thing, and I was set to pick it up that very week.

The Awful Mistake

Come to find out, when arriving for the pickup, there was some sort of mistake: they had 2011’s The Thing ready for me at the counter instead. At first I thought to myself, “F*ck this," and planned on immediately returning it. Then I thought a little more. Thinking again to myself, “Maybe this was destiny. Maybe this was the cosmos trying to signal to me that I should give the new movie a shot. It might actually be alright.” So I walked out of the store with my copy of the 2011 prequel.

There I was that night, ready to go with some snacks while full of optimism that this was going to be a decent time. I hit play under the impression that it probably won’t be nearly as good as the original, but it will probably be a fun enough creature feature.

103 Minutes Later…

Me screaming at the screen, “F*CK THIS. F*CK THEM. F*CK BEST BUY. F*CK EVERYONE. F*CK THIS BULL SH*T.”

Basically me after it was over.

Basically me after it was over.

Returning the Mistake

Went back to Best Buy the next day and told them there’s been a God damn mistake and I need the John Carpenter version, stat! Got the right movie, went straight home and popped that sucker in as soon as I could. Felt so much better.

I was livid with everything that they did in that prequel. Re-watching it seven years later, my opinion really has not changed. However, I do have more perspective in terms of film and the results of production hell… so I will certainly be unleashing some rage later on. For right now though, I’m going to be as civil as I can. But it’s going to feel so good when I burst… you read that exactly how I wanted you to.

The Plot

the-thing-2011-angry-movie-review

Taking place within a matter of days prior to the events of the ’82 film, an Antarctica research site has discovered an alien spacecraft buried below 100,000 years’ worth of ice and snow. Not far off from the crash site lies frozen an alien-being as well. The Norwegian research team brings the alien encased within a block of ice to their station where the creature escapes, causing much mayhem and death, revealing that it has the ability to replicate living beings perfectly. It’s up to the American graduate student (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and the Norwegian team to stop this monster before everyone becomes consumed by… The Thing!

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Reelrundown

Burn, baby, burn...

Burn, baby, burn...

Where to Begin…

Supposedly The Thing prequel fell victim to some post-production issues and possibly studio interference as the initial screenplay and original cut of the film was drastically changed between the completion of principal photography and the newly scheduled release date that was postponed for a six month delay. This six month postponement included a number of reshoots to “strengthen” the scares and story, creating an entirely different climax and ending, and significant post-production special effects work in order to entirely remove every frame of practical effects used in order to overlay almost every scene with computer generated imagery instead. Let me tell you something, it shows. Every bit of the problems I just listed are apparent from start to finish in this hunk of garbage.

The story is a colossal mess that goes from zero to eighty in a millisecond, there is no depth to any of the characters, the ending made no sense whatsoever, and the special effects are barely a notch above seeing the Scorpion King in 2001’s The Mummy Returns. Seeing how this is a first (and only) time director for a full length feature, I can only assume one of two things happened here. Either he didn’t have enough faith in the project, so he retroactively botched his own film or the studios saw it and demanded certain changes to be made. Either f*cking way we’re left with a total piece of sh*t!

Look at it... LOOK AT IT!!!

Look at it... LOOK AT IT!!!

I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I said I’d be civil, but it’s tough when this falls so far and so hard on its face for no good reason whatsoever. This movie could have been perfectly fine, maybe not great, but fine. Sadly, it shot itself in the foot. With a bazooka. It’s awful. I researched a lot about this film over the last few years, simply because I was curious as to what went wrong. There was quite a fair number of practical effects that were built with crucial amounts of puppeteer work performed during the initial filming. The original script itself even contained some ambitious ideas, specifically in its third act, eluding to interesting and creative possibilities. None of that is present in the final cut. None of it. This trades in on what could have essentially been a passable, at the very least a watchable, film. Instead making a train wreck onscreen, trying to be a generic modern day horror flick, yet couldn’t even manage to be halfway decent on that level.

Original Ending Set Piece

The First Forty Minutes

There really isn’t a whole lot to become invested in for the first act of the film as the characters are all generic and forgettable, containing no attempt of a charismatic or engaging performance from any of its cast members. The opening scene felt entirely tacked on with a sort of action beat to start off with, which felt like a last minute addition to shallowly bump the excitement factor up a tad. However, because I don’t know anything about these three characters that we start off with, nor am I supplied with any reason to care, then all I’m doing is watching things of no consequence happen onscreen. Doesn’t help that we barely get anymore screen time later on with these three since they aren’t the leads. Plus, I’m also wondering as to how they even got out of being stuck from that predicament of falling down into a giant crack of ice in their giant vehicle.

Present were also a couple of softly failed attempts at false jump scares, only resulting in me rolling my eyes. The jump scares never became too frequent though, in all honesty it probably only happened once or twice, but when they did happen they were annoyingly lame. Once the Thing escapes the ice block about twenty-five minutes in, the pace did pick up slightly and the jump scares ceased. Again, never crossing the line into being anything great, but it was at least livening up a little bit. Even holding some of the few and rare shots of practical monster effects that can be seen without being digitally erased entirely from the frame. There’s still a large portion of CGI present, it’s simply not as abhorrently executed as it is later on. The characters become rather moronic though when it comes to facing off against the Thing or on other matters pertaining to urgent situations. Pretty much the first forty minutes can be broken down as being a slower, dumber, less exciting, less intense, uninteresting version of Carpenter’s The Thing with the setup of Spielberg’s Jurassic Park put in place instead.

Minute 42…

This is the exact moment when things radically go south. With a vengeance. So somehow, I have no clue as to how, but somehow the Thing supposedly infected some of the Norwegian crew members in between the time of breaking out of the ice and when the team kills it. Unlike in Carpenter’s film, it makes sense why Blair (Wilford Brimley) would come to the conclusion as to the possibility of someone being infected. The dog, that was secretly the Thing, was roaming around the station unsupervised for pretty much an entire day. Several members being left alone with it for extended periods of time before ever discovering what it actually was. In the 2011 prequel, the Thing breaks out of the ice, team hunts it down and finds it within minutes, killing it on the spot. In between point A and point B, the Thing somehow found the time to kill a dog and clone, not only one guy but three, while leaving almost no trace.

Anyways, the movie is dead set on forcing the audience to believe the Thing is one of the no-name supporting characters so that it can pull a bait n’ switch on us. When it is finally revealed as to who one of the infected members are, it is so dumb. It makes absolutely no sense as to why the Thing would do what it does in that moment as it effectively killed itself because of its actions. In order to explain exactly what I am talking about I’m going to have to get into spoiler territory, so spoiler alert from here on out.

One of the crew members succumbs to trauma after witnessing his friend being eaten by the Thing. The three transportation unit members take the ill man onto their helicopter to get the man some medical treatment elsewhere. During their takeoff, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character discovers blood covered all over the walls of a shower. Which apparently no one else noticed, so Winstead immediately runs outside to flag down the pilots to hopefully signal for them land back at the base. They see her and begin their descent. For no reason at all, the Thing freaks out by bursting its host wide open with some of the worst special effects that I have ever seen, causing the chopper to cartoonishly crash somewhere into the mountains miles away. Resulting in its own demise. Stupid.

Now to some, that might not sound too farfetched since it’s a creature that just might not know any better or whatever flimsy excuse someone might want to wedge in. But because I’ve seen the ’82 film, I know that the Thing is smart. It plays the long con, clever and methodical in every move it makes; it doesn’t just randomly reveal itself for no reason unless absolutely necessary. Such as being backed into a corner with no possible way out without a fight. This Thing did it because the movie needed more monster screen time. That’s it. There is no logical progression to its actions, no semblance of consciousness, it’s just a mindless creature that attacks at the convenience of the filmmakers’ say-so.

Meanwhile at Base Camp Dumbass

After the helicopter crash scene, Winstead discovers that all of the blood in the shower had been completely cleaned up. Leading her to believe that someone is in cahoots with the Thing from the helicopter. Why this Thing didn’t think to clean up earlier, I have no idea, other than we needed a forced reason for Winstead to catch onto what’s going down. Winstead gathers everyone into a room to go on this long spiel about how anyone could be the Thing and no one should be trusted. Immediately after her own speech, the only other female crew member comes up to Winstead and convinces her to go into a secluded room away from everyone. Can you guess where this is going? It’s exactly where you think it’s going. Turns out that this woman is the Thing and tries to kill her. What a twist! Seriously? Literally only seconds after saying that no one can be trusted, Winstead trusts the first person that talks her into believing that someone else is the Thing? Really?? F*ck off! Why should I root for this character when she’s clearly an idiot?

Peek-A-Boo... the special effect is right behind you!

Peek-A-Boo... the special effect is right behind you!

Why Be Original When We Can Borrow Things?!

Once the crew kills this woman Thing, the movie starts crossing more and more into remake territory. Recreating scenes in an attempt to ape the first film, but not doing it nearly as effective. Whether it’s the scenes centered on the group discussing what their next move is while burning the remains of the Thing and its victims outside in the snow, concocting a blood test that will surely determine who is human and who isn’t, the blood test mysteriously gets sabotaged by an unknown assailant, so the team resorts to performing a makeshift test on the spot to hopefully figure out who isn’t infected. Only this time around the makeshift test they come up with isn’t the characters testing to see if their blood involuntarily reacts to scalding heat, but rather checking to see who has fillings in their teeth and who doesn’t. To an extent, fine, I get the character’s reasoning. But that, to me, doesn’t prove jack sh*t and only feels like a hollow excuse to create paranoia amongst the group.

AAAHHH!!!

AAAHHH!!!

Would You Believe It?

Turns out that the two pilots from the helicopter that crashed earlier miraculously survived and hiked down the mountains, all the way back to the research station. The pilots are played by Joel Edgerton and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. That’s quite the mouthful. Anyways, in this freezing cold film set, the two arrive back to camp to being greeted with flamethrowers aimed at their face. Understandable, seeing how it makes no God damn sense how they survived any of that and literally walked out of it without a scratch. Doesn’t matter since it turns out they were human the whole time. Stupid humans at that since they knocked out one of the crew members to steal their flamethrower, causing this contrived confrontation between the pilots and the rest of the crew. Because of them all being stupid, conducting a meaningless yelling match rather than actually communicating with each other and simply telling one another the vital information that they could easily share, they don’t. Which results in the pointless death of another one of the group and more bad CGI.

References For the Sake of References

When the film closes on the second act and enters the third, the references to Carpenter’s movie start pouring in. Some do make sense, to an extent, such as with the two-face melting Thing. The rest are forced in about as well as a jackhammer in someone’s mouth. In other words, they don’t f*cking work. Remember the frozen man found inside of the destructed building from the original with his throat slit to the point of damn near decapitation? Would you like to know how or why that happened? Would you like to know the story of this man and what drove him to such a gruesome demise? Too bad. It’s an insert shot in a post-credits scene of the dude already dead. We don’t know who this random guy is. We learned literally nothing about this character. We don’t know what events led him to practically cutting his head off. This horrific element from the original is now practically brought down to being a sight gag.