Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Thing (2011)


Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Eric Christian Olsen
Universal Pictures (UK)
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 March 2012

An American paleontologist is sent thousands of miles away to a remote Norwegian research base in the frozen wastes of the Antarctic. A major scientific discovery has been made in the ice. There is what appears to be a spacecraft, and nearby an alien creature embedded in the ice. The ice block is transported to the camp for study, but the unknown occupant of the UFO makes its escape as the temperature rises. The men and women of the base will soon come to realise that the newcomer is a deadly predator that can skillfully duplicate its prey, so that their living conditions become a boiling pot of ill-trust and paranoia. However, for the paleontologist there is the added realisation that the Thing can not be allowed to escape to populated areas...

For anyone who isn’t aware of its illustrious background, this tale began as a short story called Who Goes There? written by SF scribe W. John Campbell Jr. In the 1950s, Western filmmaker Howard Hawkes adapted it as The Thing From Another World. John Carpenter was greatly inspired by the techniques utilised by Hawkes. In 1982 Carpenter returned more closely to the source material, accentuating the claustrophobia, paranoia and base-under-siege format. He has described this as his best film - both in its latter day success, and the enjoyment in the making. So, what do you do when confronted with the situation of updating/remaking a cult classic? Answer: you make a sequel, or in this particular case a prequel.

This version of The Thing acts-out what took place at the Norwegian base prior to those events we all know and love from Carpenter’s film. Essentially, it means that this film ends at the point Carpenter’s begins - with the helicopter pursuing the fleeing dog across the ice. The danger here is that continuity has to be right, and that’s exactly what director Matthijs Van Heijningen has striven for in an attempt to make these earlier plotlines canon to the fans. On the extra features virtually everyone spoken to talks about paying homage to Carpenter’s fantastic film. After watching the film I would say homage means copying almost every aspect of it.

Consequentially, I found myself appreciating the technical prowess of the new film, whilst pretty much hating it. For instance, the monster effects are a combination of animatronics, prosthetics and CGI, and it’s evident even to the untrained eye that what works least well here is the CGI. The open-body tentacles look fake, whereas the body sculptures work quite well. The obvious problem is that the majority of creature reveal moments are drearily close to the originals featured in John Carpenter’s far superior movie. There’s that homage again. Also, I like the way this film uses natural fire rather than CGI fire, which even in multi-million pound blockbusters still doesn’t work.

In all other respects this is simply a by-the-numbers rehash. It lacks characterisation; everyone is faceless canon fodder. The feeling of dark oppression and paranoia which completely permeates the celluloid of Carpenter’s film is completely absent here. There’s no mood, and you just don’t care about the proceedings. In short, there’s nothing new about this film, apart from the idea of looking in people’s mouths, as the creature can not replicate non-organic material - i.e. teeth fillings. For real tension, check out the scene in Carpenter’s film where they take blood samples to discover who has been replicated.

There are apparently two versions of this release. One with just the new 2011 film and extras (commentary, deleted scenes, The Thing Evolves, Fire & Ice) - and a 2-film version which includes Carpenter’s 1982 film and a horde of extras. Take my advice, buy the 1982 film; it’s superior in every way.


Ty Power

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£14.99 (
£14.99 (
£18.00 (
£17.97 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.