1982, Antarctica. Scientist Kate Lloyd has joined a Norwegian research team who have found something remarkable buried in the ice. But what was presumed dead is very much alive and this shape shifting thing from another world is intent on survival.
When is a remake not a remake? When it's The Thing, which claims to be a prequel but is so similar to the 1982 classic that it may as well be a 'reboot'. John Carpenter's film was a reworking of Howard Hawks' 50s movie by way of the source material, John W. Campbell's story "Who Goes There?", and remains a tense paranoia driven sci-fi chiller complemented by Rob Bottin's groundbreaking fx, Ennio Morricone's sombre score and a charismatic cast. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr's film, exploring events on the Norwegian base briefly visited by Kurt Russell and co, has no such virtues.
Like the titular creature The Thing is all about replication, adhering to the narrative of its predecessor so slavishly that any tension is lost, a problematic approach considering that many viewers will be one step ahead of the characters throughout each predictable plot development. Strange then that no attempt has been made to develop the claustrophobic atmosphere of suspicion or add any fresh ideas to the premise (a female lead is about as innovative as it gets). Instead we watch a group of forgettable characters running around frozen locations with occasional bursts of CG monster action to wake up the audience. As for the CG fx, it gives the creature a cartoonish appearance that lacks the visceral intensity of Bottin's work, gone too are the imaginative transformations replaced with simple variations of what audiences have seen before.
Bereft of intelligence and innovation The Thing is a prime example of the imaginatively barren state of current Hollywood cinema, an industry content to play safe with mainstream rehashes of past successes and cult favourites. Lacking the unique mix of gnawing paranoia and gory visuals that permeated Carpenter's film it's an indifferently directed monster movie that, in light of its cinematic antecedent, is totally redundant. If you must watch it then keep an eye out for the perfunctory nods to the '82 movie, the set up for its opening scene hastily tacked on during the closing credits.