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The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
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At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson. While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form. The entire plot is essentially the exact same thing as the original. One of the few differences here is that there's a female lead in this prequel. What made the 1982 classic so incredible is the unbelievable amount of tension and atmosphere utilized to make the terrifying vision. However, The Thing (2011) abandons this type of filmmaking. It seems that most horror filmmakers nowadays have turned to style over substance. This prequel doesn't have tension. Not showing the creature too often is important, otherwise it feels like we're just watching a special effects show instead of something attempting to dig underneath our skin. This script is absent of the character development that's found in the original. This is what leads us to actually care about what happens to the characters. Here, the audience barely gets to know about any of the group and that leads us to not feel even slightly sympathetic for the situation they have found themselves in. Instead, we're served with some horrific dialogue and idiotic characters. The only character I found myself rooting for was Kate, although that's just because I'm a fan of the actress playing her and has nothing to do with the role itself. What started as a smart, psychological horror flick through the original has turned into a special effects show without any depth to create tension. Instead, there are just a bunch of lame and ineffective jump scares.
The supporting characters are so underdeveloped that the actors could have been great and it wouldn't have made much of a difference. In this case, it isn't even worth mentioning any of the supporting roles. As previously mentioned, I'm a fan of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She has proven her spot in horror/thriller filmmaking. She's made a few duds, but she's ultimately an actress who can really act when given quality dialogue. In this case, she isn't able to shine as she's able to in some of her other features. However, she's a decent lead as it's always nice to see her on the big screen. Alongside her is Joel Edgerton. I'm not positive as to what led him to star in this one, but he's proven what a fantastic actor he is in a lot of his other work. I feel that he didn't receive as much screen time as he should have. Otherwise, he does a satisfactory job here. The acting is overall mediocre, but I don't expect too much from this department when the dialogue and characters given to them are so underwhelming.
One of the greatest elements of the 1982 film The Thing is the visual department. The practical effects beat any CGI. Sure, it looks a little fake at times, but it looks much more genuine than creatures created digitally. In the prequel's case, they could have greatly benefited from both practical effects and not showing the creature so much. The monster is shown over and over again in full. This doesn't make it scary at all, instead it makes us feel as if we're just watching a CGI affair. The digitized graphics are definitely disappointing. However, I'm very satisfied that the filmmaker decided to make this an R rated film. This doesn't belong in PG-13 territory and I'm glad they didn't choose that route to attempt to get more money at the box office. Easily the most impressive thing about this prequel is the audio transfer. It's absolutely phenomenal and near-reference. The bass output is massive as it shakes the entire room. The dialogue is never difficult to hear and the surround channels are very effective. I felt entirely immersed in the sound field from start to finish. Whenever there is chaos unfolding on screen, expect to hear some very well-mixed audio.
A lot of critics and people absolutely slammed The Thing (2011) way more than I did in this review. While it isn't a good film, it isn't as bad as some other horror remakes/prequels/reboots. If this movie was released without having the original in mind, this could have been at least a highly entertaining horror flick. Instead, I had difficulty getting the original out of my mind while watching this. It feels as if it's trying really hard to be similar to the original even though this is supposed to be a prequel. I personally believe that John Carpenter's version should have been left alone. This isn't an abomination, but if it was going to try and be a part of the story that the original created, it should have remained in the same atmosphere to create a similar sense of tension. The Thing (2011) should be rented by those who are simply curious and want to check it out, otherwise I recommend simply revisiting John Carpenter's phenomenal classic The Thing instead.