The one thing this remake has going for it is that it can be passed off as a prequel. Whether it capitalizes on this or not is another matter…
Set in 1982 (the year John Carpenter’s original The Thing was set and released) 2011’s The Thing tells the story of the unfortunate group of scientists who uncovered a buried alien ship and alien corpse in Antarctica that worked as a precursor to the events of the original film. The nature of the remake is clear as events are almost identical in both films.
Now I wasn’t in love with the original film; it was a distracting experience with great physical monster effects that do stay in my mind to this day (six years on) but as a story… I had seen it before. So in saying that, I don’t mind this being a remake/prequel; it certainly made me want to watch the original again, and it isn’t a straight up copy (a different title would have been nice!)
However the film itself, isn’t exactly ground breaking. Its pacing is way too fast and we have precious little time to get to know the characters (I know I was giving them names: Bearded Man 1, Bearded Man 2, etc) and when this happens you are merely looking at the monster’s menu. There was room for story expansion here, but the film is too frantic to bother and does not build tension.
The creature effects… are hit and miss. Naturally they are CG and I will admit some of the “full frontal” transformations are pretty gross, but like others have said you do see the monster(s) too frequently; CG gives the director too much liberty and it costs them suspense and atmosphere. It started looking like video game monsters, from Resident Evil and the like. There are some stationary practical models, but for better or worse everything else is computer generated.
It is the bare bones of a “creature feature”, it could have done with slowing down the pace, get some characters developed or story expanded for its “sequel”, or at the very least for building some atmosphere.
If you like monster-fests, you can do worse. I certainly didn’t hate it; my initial opinion had it pegged as a four cups of cocoa, but as it went on… it let itself down.