The Thing (2011)Overview -
At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson. While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
John Carpenter's 1982 'The Thing' is revered as one of the best horror movies of all time. For those who hold the film in such high esteem, rest assured that the remake (also titled 'The Thing') doesn't blaspheme or tarnish the image of the original. Instead, it builds upon the first film, enhances what you know, and perfectly fills in some blanks along the way. It's not necessary to know the '82 version in order to enjoy the new one, but it sure makes the new one a whole lot more fun if you do.
Carpenter's 'The Thing' opens with a team of Norwegians frantically entering an American camp in Antarctica while trying to kill a dog. The American team defends themselves from the crazy Norwegians and keeps the dog for a pet – which ends up being an alien that can physically change into whomever/whatever it kills. While the old 'Thing' follows the Americans fighting the alien, the new 'Thing' takes us back in time and tells the Norwegians' story – how they found the alien, what happened at their base, and how they ended up in the American camp.
Prequels all suffer from the same problem: You already know how they end. Because of that, there's rarely any weight or surprise to the story. But 'The Thing' is a rare exception. Sure, you know the end, but only the end for two characters. How they get from Point A to Point B is still a mystery. Little facts about the Norwegians' story are revealed in the '82 movie, so seeing how each of those facts comes to pass is awesome. There's a big checklist of things that must happen to set up the '82 version before the closing credits can roll on the new one. Fanboys will be giddy with excitement to see each of those things gets checked off – and the movie doesn't miss a single one.
Technically, 'The Thing' is a prequel, but the movie itself plays out like a remake, following the exact same formula as the original. Handy flamethrowers are stashed all over the station. Nobody knows who they can or can't trust. There's even a test that they administer to one another to see if they're human or not – but don't worry, it's not the blood test again, but something fresh, new, and fun. 'The Thing' is a prequel that plays out like an homage-filled remake, but with a fresh and fun story. It's a remake for audiences who don't know the '82 version, and a prequel for those who do know the story and want more.
There's a reoccurring theme and form of horror movies that I enjoy the most – not knowing who's good and who's bad. This dichotomy bring out the wildness of self-preservation, at times turning the human characters into selfish monsters. 'The Thing' lies within this fun category of horror. It becomes a question of determining what's a bigger threat – the aliens outside or the humans inside. It's a fun scenario that creates tension and allows likeable characters to do wild and awful things.
I still don't know why 'The Thing' was a flop. Every fan of the Carpenter classic that I know loves this new version, yet most of the comments that I read online from fans talk about how much they hated it - but never cite examples for all their hating. This leads me to believe that the haters went in with their minds already made up, believing that Carpenter's classic didn't need to be messed with. The chose to never give it a chance. What most fans don't know is that when a producer of the new film who worked with Carpenter on the original told Carpenter that a prequel was in the works, he wished them well and was happy that someone deemed his nearly 30-year-old movie worth revisiting. He gave his approval and said, "Knock it out of the park."
'The Thing' is easily one of my favorite horror movies of the recent past. It's an all-around good time that, despite being new, has the feel and tone of the horror movies of old. You don't need to know John Carpenter's 'The Thing', but the more familiar you are with it, the more fun this one will be.
Plus, it's always great to see Mary Elizabeth Winstead – this time playing a beautiful and smart bad-ass with a flamethrower.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal has given 'The Thing' a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy (or Ultraviolet copy – it's your choice) combo pack release. The BD-50 and DVD discs are housed in a standard two-disc blue keepcase which slides vertically into a cardboard slipcase. The slipcase is pretty neat, but it features Universal's tradition thick blue header with the Blu-ray logo and the words "Watch it anytime, anywhere!" and the large lettering "BLU-RAY + DVD + DIGITAL COPY." Considering the case is matted black and all text on the case, aside from the film's title, is printed smaller font than the header, Universal's blue bar takes away from the coolness of the slipcase.
'The Thing' hits Blu-ray with a 1080p/VC-1 encode presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Considering how good the transfer looks, it's time for the wary fans of Carpenter's 'Thing' to push their fears aside and enjoy this prequel.
As expected from new releases, the picture is 100 percent clean, carries a slight amount of film grain and is consistent in quality. The image is always crisp, clear and well detailed. The level of sharpness is good, but could have been slightly better – but don't think that you can't still make out rogue hairs and fine details like splattering blood from alien-inflicted wounds.
The snowy white outdoors are blindingly bright – especially if you're watching this Blu-ray in a dark environment – and the indoors settings are dark and gloomy. The bright shots are crisp, but at times darker images appear filtered, as if to give an especially small and claustrophobic enclosed feeling. Because of the darkness, details only lie within the direct lighting of indoor scenes. The black levels are decent, but not as inky as usual. Because of the black and white contrasts, colors seem more vibrant and alive than had the film taken place in a colorful setting. Fleshtones are not as warm as reality, which is meant to emphasize the sub-zero setting.
Another strong positive for 'The Thing' is that it's noise, DNR, edge enhancement, artifact, alias, and band-free.
'The Thing' has been given lossless English, French and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, as well as an English descriptive audio service track.
Making up for the not-as-sharp-as-it-chould-be picture quality is the astounding sound. The film opens with a tractor of Norwegian scientists tracking a radio signal from within the ice. As they near a buried spacecraft, a chasm opens up and swallows the tractor. The truck careens into the abyss and becomes wedged within the canyon walls. A shot from below the tractor looks upward as snow and ice rain down on the pinched vehicle. The sound of imaging ice pouring down, hitting the metal and scraping the walls sounds dynamic and brilliant. The sound moves from channel to channel seamlessly. This sort of high quality is constant throughout the film. If there's a fire off-screen, you'll hear its crackle in fine detail – especially when it's burning flesh. When "The Thing" breaks out of the ice block and breaks through the ceiling onto the roof, you can hear the beast scramble across the tin as if it was your own rinky-dink roof. When the "arm centipede" climbs around the darkened hallway, you can hear it tapping all around you. The sound is dynamic and well-spread, making use of all channels all the time.
The balance between music, effects and vocals is strong and lifelike. The resonant bassy sounds and LFE add a rich level of tension to the intense scenes.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 9 min.) - Watch all seven scenes individually or watch them as a "play all" feature. Two scenes are needless chit-chat, one raises questions and leaves room for plot holes, two feature the fate of characters whose deaths we simply assume and two are barely extended versions of scenes in the final cut – one of "Two-Heads" creeping around the compound and the other being the final chopper scene shown in its entirety, not in pieces like during the credits.
- 'The Thing' Evolves (HD, 14 min.) - The filmmakers knew that they had a daunting and seemingly impossible task at hand – following up one of the most beloved horror movies of all time – so they describe the "reverse engineering" "story by autopsy" method they applied while writing it. This is a great feature for fans of Carpenter's 'Thing.'
- Fire and Ice (HD, 4 min.) - See the actors go through flamethrower training and blast fire on "Fire for Hire" stuntmen and women. While short, this feature is cool, showing the actors turn into pyromaniacs.
- Feature Commentary with Director Matthijs Neijnngen and Producer Eric Newman - This commentary will be deemed informative, interesting and fun by fans of the new and old "Things." They reference Carpenter's film like a Bible and explain in great detail how their goal was to never one-up the original, but pay tribute to and compliment it. I only listened to first 10 minutes of the commentary, but it was good enough that I'll listen to the whole thing the next time I pop in this Blu-ray.
- U-Control - Toggle this picture-in-picture feature for a hearty look into the making-of 'The Thing' while watching the movie itself. There's nearly one pop-up featurette for each chapter in the film. Watch them while watching the movie or select the chapters individually.
- My Scenes
- D-BOX Motion Code - I have yet to meet anyone with D-BOX seats in their home theater.
- Pocket Blu App
'The Thing' is much better than its 35 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, and it deserved to make more then its $27.4 worldwide box office total. I believe that most fans of the original didn't give it a chance because they feared it would tarnish the original - one of the best horror movies of all time. In truth, the prequel is a solid and fun film. Filling in absolutely every blank from John Carpenter's 'The Thing.' It's easily the best prequel I've ever seen. The video quality is good, but not as great as it could have been. The audio is fantastically well-mixed. The Blu-ray is full of deleted and extended scenes and in-depth looks at the making of the film via commentary, picture-in-picture main feature vignettes and and short featurettes. If you're a fan of the new or old 'The Thing's, you'll find it absolutely satisfying.
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