When it was announced that they were making a movie connected to John Carpenter’s the Thing, the internet seemed unsure how to describe it. Is it a Sequel? No. Is it a reboot? No. Is it a remake? No. But boy, I saw it constantly referred to as a remake and a reboot, even after it came out. Here is the thing, there is literally no doubt that this is a prequel. It is set shortly before Carpenter’s film at the Norwegian camp that discovers the alien thing.
Of course, being a prequel, the film spends a lot of time trying to set up and explain stuff we saw in the first film. How was the ship so exposed? How did the alien get out of the block of ice?
This is not to say they do not try and be a bit different.
For one, the cast has female characters, rather than the original’s exclusively male cast. Specifically, Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Kate Lloyd, a scientist brought by an old friend to the Norwegian base for mysterious reasons. Of course, once she arrives, she can see why they were not so quick to tell her what they found.
They discover a body in the ice, and bring it back to the base. They start to investigate, and are all excited, imagining what this discovery means. But of course, that is when the creature awakens and the horror begins. Once the infection starts, it moves through the cast quickly. One of the things that they successfully do differently is how the characters determine infected from uninfected. This all leads to an eventful showdown as the alien tries to take off with his ship.
Unlike the original, which often would slow down, and the ending fight was small and contained, this film is full of major action on a regular basis. The paranoia takes a back seat to fast action sequences.
While there were actually quite a bit of practical effects designed for the film, the studio pushed for more digital. The digital is not terrible in the film, but still, it feels less real than the effects of the original.
As the film races towards the end it becomes heavily focused on filling in the blanks of the destruction discovered by Kurt Russell and Richard Dysart in Carpenter’s film. In the end, while a strong idea supports this film, the execution never comes close to having the impact of John Carpenter’s the Thing.