Archive for January, 2012
Ok, let’s start this by clearing up any mis-conceptions about the name. It’s called The Thing. It’s not a remake of the 1982 classic directed by John Carpenter, it’s a prequel. But yes, they named it The Thing, the exact same name of the movie it’s supposed to be a prequel to. Which is very telling of the approach to the rest of the film, it’s basically a copy. Hmmm, I see a theme already…
Oh, the irony that is just oozing out of this, this, thing.
Anyway. Here’s the scoop. This movie is supposed to be a prequel as I mentioned. If you’ve seen the ‘82 version, you know that there’s a team of Norwegian scientists that come across an alien spaceship and life-form locked in the frozen Antarctic wasteland. Said scientists dig up alien life-form to check it out and claim glory. The alien thaws, escapes, and terror ensues. Just a reminder, the alien life form clones any hosts it can find by taking over cells and replicating the host cells it absorbed. So, it copies cells and looks like whatever it copies.
Much like this film.
I had read how much this followed the original but I was genuinely shocked at just how far it went. To the point where there’s even a very MacCready-esque dude (chopper pilot and all originally played by Kurt Russell) that takes over with a flame thrower at one point. I don’t know if the unoriginality is conscious or not, either way it’s like buying a knock off that is a little shinier but is ultimately a lame imitation of the original.
Other stuff this film rips off from the ‘82 version – the pacing, the timeline, hell, the POSTER. Even the editing style is mimicked.
The effects are updated to be digital but surprisingly came off less scary to me. The first alien iteration is pretty interesting and a bit terrifying at first. After the creature’s initial introduction and subsequent demise, it melds into the familiar shapeshifter we recognize from the sequel. Ultimately, Carpenter’s creature is scarier. This new version looks CG at times and without the dark edge atmosphere that John Carpenter is so good at crafting, this version looks too slick and commercial. They even rip off John Carpenter’s music for parts of the soundtrack but simply can’t capture that special thing (get it? thing) that he brought to his version.
The end of the film ends where the sequel picks up with one key character strangely just sort of going away in a manner that doesn’t make sense. It’s almost like the writers and director went “wait, she’s not in the sequel, sooooooo, how about she just sort of wanders off or something?”.
The characters are another weak point. The 80’s version had interesting characters with distinct personalities along with a strong cast that included Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, and Richard Dysart. This version has Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a number of other actors that most people have never heard of. They’re ok, but their characters are bland and cookie cutter, no real stand outs here. Even Winstead comes off just ok and a little forced and unnatural at times.
Ugh. Just another remake not trying to be a remake but not trying to be original either. Hollywood’s just getting really freakin’ lazy at this point…
reviewed by Sean McKnight
So yeah, this is basically the popcorn, big-action flick you’d expect it to be. No surprises but entertaining to watch. Let’s break it down…
The movie starts off in the heat of the action and then back tracks to add some start-stop-start again style to it. During the back tracking period the audience is introduced to the human element part of the storyline mostly through the eyes of a marine unit that includes Aaron Eckhart’s character. He’s an older marine on his way to retirement (no, he doesn’t say “I’m getting too old for this shit” luckily). He ends up getting assigned to a unit with a much younger commanding officer and the brother of a fallen marine from his previous unit. Underlying tension is established.
Aliens have invaded and they’re after our resources (natch), namely our water (underlying environmental message regarding the importance of our water now in place). The goal of Eckhart’s unit is to rescue some people pinned down in a police station before a major bombing. During their mission they manage to uncover a hidden alien command post that, if destroyed, would be a major component to saving the human race.
The good and the bad of it…
Too much jumpy cam! Geez. Even during a damn phone call in an office before the aliens invade! Suffice it to say that the quick cuts and the shakey cam are way overdone, to the point of distraction. Next, most of the characters are pretty generic and uninteresting. You don’t mind too much if you lose one here or there. I felt a bit sad when one of them goes down, but he was one of the few I felt sympathy towards dying, the rest I was kind of “meh”.
The effects mostly look pretty good. There are times that some quick cuts, blurry backgrounds and quick camera movements are used to cover bad effects. It’s done quite a bit and easy to spot, not good. And you don’t get enough wide shots on a fixed camera to really enjoy the action, it’s more quick cuts and jittery camera. I want to bring back more of a balance to action movies where you get the pacing but you also get to see the action.
The acting for the most part is decent but average. Aaron Eckhart plays the lead well and has a solid support cast next to him which includes Michelle Rodriquez kicking ass as always as her usual tough character. Noone stands out as exceptional but they all fill their molds well.
It’s your by-the-numbers big budget aliens blow up Los Angeles popcorn flick. If you liked films like Independence Day, you’ll dig this.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I have to admit that normally I enjoy the Mission Impossible movies, especially the first 2. You typically know what you
Guy Ritchie is back with his latest installment of the story of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes along with his faithful partner Watson. This time, the story finds these literary legends facing their classic nemesis in the form of Professor James Moriarty. If you saw the first movie, you