This prequel to John Carpenter’s classic science fiction horror film The Thing has confusingly adopted the same name as Carpenter’s film. It got a bit of a mixed reception when it came out and so I waited for the Bluray release to see it at home. This prequel really pays a lot of respect to the original film while still telling its own story. The film-makers have gone to some trouble make sure that the events in this film match up with what they discovered at the Norwegian camp in the original. If you are familiar with e original then there is very little that is new here but I still found it very enjoyable.
In Antarctica three Norwegians are driving their Snowcat across the ice searching for a strange signal they have detected back at their base camp. They stop at the location where the signal is strongest when suddenly the ice cracks and gives away beneath them and the Snowcat plunges down into the crack until it comes to a top, wedged tight in the crack. The men inside look down into the darkness and see a massive spaceship buried in the ice.
Next we get introduced to our main character Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is a palaeontologist. Her associate Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) introduces her to Dr Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) who is the head of the Norwegian research base in Antarctica and he needs her help but of course he doesn’t tell her there and then why. It isn’t until they get to Antarctica that Halvorson shows them the enormous space craft then eventually shows them the alien they found frozen the ice a small distance away from the ship. Time is critical because there is a storm approaching in a couple of days and the pilot of the helicopter Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton) wants away before it hits so they cut out a block of ice containing the creature and take it back to their base. Halvorson wants a tissue sample and ignores Kate’s warning that it might contaminate the sample. Drilling into the bock to take the sample cracks the ice and weakens it.
They all go back to the mess hall and celebrate the discovery in typical Norwegian fashion by drinking lots of booze and singing and dancing to Norwegian folk songs. Carter’s co-pilot Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) takes a break from the boozing and goes for a stroll down to look at the alien and we see that the ice is melting rapidly. The creature suddenly explodes out of the ice, breaks through the ceiling and escapes. We don’t get a good look at it but it looked vaguely like the xenomorph from Alien.
Halvorson wants the creature captured so he organises everyone into pairs to search for it. The unfortunate pair Peder and Olav who find the creature get attacked and the creature swallows Peder whole into its massive maw. Everyone else arrives and there is general panic as some want the creature killed and Halvorson doesn’t. Finally they bring out the flame thrower and burn the thing to death.
The smouldering remains are carried into the lab with Peder’s legs still poking out of the mouth. Halvorson starts cutting the creature open much to everyone else’s disgust, not so much at the autopsy but at his casual attitude to their dead colleague. Kate reluctantly assists him and they cut Peder’s body out of the rubbery tissue enclosing him. Kate notices a strange translucent quality to the man’s skin and is puzzled to find a metal orthopaedic plate lying next to the body. His colleagues confirm that he had a compound fracture in his arm which does not explain why it’s now outside his body.
They now turn their attention to Olav who was injured in the attack. He needs medical treatment so Sam, Jameson and Grimes agree to take him in the helicopter to McMurdo Sound. Meanwhile Kate is examining tissue from the creature and Peder under a microscope and sees the alien cells consuming then imitating the human cells. She shows it to Adam who isn’t sure about her conclusion first that the alien tissue is still alive then that it is imitating what it consumes. When she goes to the bathroom she finds metal tooth fillings lying on the floor and a shower full of blood. She hears the helicopter starting up and quickly realises that they can’t let the helicopter leave. She rushes out and waves frantically at Carter who has just taken off. Carter decides to land and that’s when the creature in the back of the helicopter bursts out of it human shell and attacks. The helicopter goes out of control and crashes in the distance.
Everyone is upset about the helicopter crashing, especially as it’s their only transport away from the base (apart from the Snowcats). Kate tries to tell them that alien consumes animals (including humans) and then imitates them but Halvarson doesn’t listen and Adam doesn’t back her up. It soon becomes academic as they realise Kate is correct very quickly and they have no idea who they can trust since anyone can be an alien creature.
As someone who is a fan of the original film I thought this did a great job creating this prequel and I appreciated the effort they went to. The special effects are a quite a nice combination of physical models and CG and they take it step further than the original one did.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Watch An Exclusive THE THING Featurette On ‘Norwegian Casting’ (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- DVD REVIEW: The Thing (2011) (geeksyndicate.wordpress.com)