Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Written by: Eric Heisserer, based on a short story by John W. Campbell Jr.
Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
MPAA Rating: R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 104
Date: 10/10/2011

The Thing (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Snow Spews

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World (1951) used a particular, unique style to establish characters and build up suspense. John Carpenter's brilliant remake The Thing (1982) managed to be truly frightening while playing with a subtle social and political commentary. But this remake -- directed by first timer Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. -- feels like nothing more than a marketing ploy, an attempt to cash in on a familiar brand with no further attempt to make it relevant.

When a spaceship is discovered buried in the ice in Antarctica, Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) summons a top paleontologist, Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to help investigate. The reason? There was a survivor, a creepy, dark shape frozen in ice a short distance away from the ship. Kate joins several Norwegian researchers in studying the beast, but before anyone can get down to business, the creature is loose. Worse, Kate soon discovers that it has the ability to perfectly mimic human beings. Not knowing who to trust, Kate soon comes to a hard decision: no one must leave the site alive.

The new movie's visual effects, a combination of digital and latex, look good and manage to copy Rob Bottin's groundbreaking work from the 1982 version. And by virtue of copying, the new movie manages to re-capture some of the same terrifying human/creature hybrids that caused such chills before. The new movie also uses locations and timing to similar effect, but eventually it runs out of steam, forgetting all about the paranoia theme, and ignoring any other potentially interesting themes.

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