Welcome back dear reader,
So, as I said last time my thoughts and reaction to the trailer for the upcoming remake/prequel to The Thing was going to take two posts. This time out, I’d like to publicly engage in one of those weird things I normally do in a dark room behind a closed door: Advance frame-by-frame through a new trailer to pick up on little bits and pieces about the film.
I also thought it might be fun to throw in some shots of the prior adaptations for comparison and to see how the prequel lines up certain things with John Carpenter’s The Thing. So, grab a flame-thrower and a parka we’re heading in.
Right off the bat, its obvious from the trailer that the filmmakers behind the prequel are making a painstaking effort to dovetail their movie into the 1982 film. We dont’ see a whole lot of the Norwegian camp in The Thing, but the bits we do see line up identically in the 2011 prequel.
Its not just sets though, in this interview (spoiler warning) one of the producers describes having the John Carpenter film on a laptop on the set and studying every detail in an effort to be faithful. One specific thing that’s mentioned is when MacReady and Copper force their way through a door with an axe buried in it. We see a quick shot in the trailer of Joel Edgerton hoisting said axe and the promise we’ll find out how it found its way into that door.
Another unique aspect of this pair of films is that we’ve already met, albeit briefly, two of the the characters we’ll see in the prequel. In theory, the helicopter pilot and rifleman in the opening of The Thing will be the only two characters to survive the prequel. Be on the lookout for the Norwegian in this pair of distinctive goggles and its a safe bet, he’ll make it to the end of the picture.
So does all that add up to a good film? No, they can make nods to and be respectful of the original and still make a real turkey (Tron: Legacy anyone?). But, as a fan of the original, I do appreciate how much they are going out of their way to honor that film. If they were doing a straight up remake, I doubt I’d even see it. By doing this film as a prequel, they have the chance to tell a very similar story while also steering around the movie that I and many others hold in such high regard.
So, while I’m not ready to declare it a winner, I will say that I think they’re doing a lot of things right. I think the ensemble cast of the original movie is superb and I’m encouraged by the lack of ‘stars’ in the cast of the remake. One aspect I like is the inclusion of women. John Carpenter admits that the lack of women in his film was a conceit; even in the early 80’s there were women living and working in Antarctica. He liked the idea of an all-male cast as a throw back to early Hollywood films and also felt a female character might unnecessarily complicate the script by creating an expectation for romantic interest within the cast.
Now, I agree that, Hollywood being Hollywood, the inclusion of a female character could have prompted producers to ignorantly insist on a romance sub-plot or the inclusion of sex-scenes (which could have been very interesting given that the film is often considered a metaphor for the AIDS scare of the time).
So, while I understand Carpenter’s reasons, I’m happy the new film is taking a more realistic approach to the matter. Ironically, The Thing From Another World did feature several women characters who were a part of the research outpost but of course they were all secretaries who helped the men-folk fight off The Thing by typing notes and bringing coffee. The 2011 version of The Thing looks to be taking a slightly different path with its female lead. She still types notes, but with a flamethrower!
So, until the film hits the cineplex the jury is still out. But I’m more interested and hopeful in this ‘remake’ than any other I can think of. The filmmaker’s dedication to continuity and their respect for fans like me is what will get me into the theater, after that its going to be all up to them to keep me there.
Are you planning to see The Thing when it premieres in October?