Ok…I don’t know if that’s really true, but couldn’t they have come up with a different title for a movie billed as a prequel to the John Carpenter 1982 version of The Thing? Even something as obvious as “The Thing Arrives” would have been better. So, considering the lack of creativity involved in titling, my expectations for this year’s The Thing were somewhere between the cleanliness of a Port-O-Potty and Gigli – and they met those expectations.
(If you have any intention of seeing this movie, first of all – really? and second of all, stop reading now because I am spoiling everything but the ending.)
I’ve never seen John Carpenter’s 1982 version or the original 1951 The Thing from Another World (much better title), so I can’t do any kind of comparison with the new one. However, I don’t think that’s much of a problem. John Carpenter was a master of horror and there is no chance that his version was anywhere near as stupid as this new one. Ordinarily, I would cut a monster movie some slack on sloppy writing (actually, probably not), but since this involves aliens, it should have been a little bit more intelligent than, for example, Freddy vs. Jason. The stupid part of this film isn’t that an alien is running amok, killing everyone, but that the alien is seemingly the dumbest life-form in the galaxy.
The film begins with paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) flying to Antarctica after being asked to join a Norwegian base that has discovered a spaceship (reread that sentence and try not to laugh). While exploring, they discover an alien body frozen in the ice, so like all good movie scientists they take it back to their base without doing any kind of field testing whatsoever. Against Kate’s half-hearted protests, they take a tissue sample, which wakes the alien. While they are celebrating their find, the alien escapes and they start a big game of hide-and-seek. After the obligatory shots of each team searching, one of the teams locates the alien under a building. In a fit of anger at losing the game so quickly, the alien eats one of the Norwegians, which, by the way, is the proper response to being found in hide-and-seek. Not to be outdone, the rest of the humans show up, shoot it several times with pistols, followed by a flame thrower, which, by the way, is the proper response to one of your friends being eaten by an alien. At this point in time, I have made up none of this.
After putting out the fire and discovering the alien also killed their dog, they drag the carcass back into their lab, cut it open, and find their friend inside. After performing some tests, the team delivers us some science-y conclusions. 1) The alien and his ship have been on Earth for 100,000 years, 2) the alien can replicate organic matter, and 3) the alien cannot replicate inorganic matter. At this point in time, as ridiculous as the movie sounds, I have no real problem with it. We’ve figured out the alien’s superpower, we know it’s still alive because of the dead dog, and the rest of the movie is going to have the alien picking off the humans, one by one. Unfortunately, the “writers” weren’t done.
After discovering some teeth fillings in the bathroom, Kate tries to flag down a just-departed helicopter, fearing the alien may be on board. The alien exposes itself as an angry vagina – with teeth, tentacles, and legs – and the helicopter crashes (still not making any of this up). When two of the humans return from the crash, Kate jumps to the conclusion that the alien is trying to get to another camp in the hopes of eventually getting to the other continents so it can take over the world. From here, the movie devolves into a mess of paranoid people accusing each other of being an alien while dying and flame-throwing everything. It’s also the point at which the film becomes completely irrational and raises the following questions.
Why does a scientific team in Antarctica have flame throwers and grenades? If the alien is just trying to get to the main land, why does it keep popping out of its disguises? On that note, why does it even bother disguising itself as human at all when it can pretend to be the dog? If it can replicate extremely complex things like human cells, why can’t it replicate basic elements like iron (don’t give me crap about organic life only being made of carbon; humans are filled with all kinds of things, including iron in our blood)? If it can’t replicate inorganic matter, how does it replicate clothes? Why does the alien spit out the teeth fillings when it could just put it in its pocket? Why did they only find one alien when the ship appeared to be the size of Yellowstone National Park? How bad of a pilot was this alien to crash on Antarctica? Why does it leave the ship, when they show us at the end that the ship is perfectly capable of flying away? How does this alien even know how to fly a ship when it is obviously the most stupid being in the known universe? And finally, why am I still writing about one of the worst movies ever committed to film? Wait, I know the answer to that one – because it allowed me to write the phrase “angry vagina with teeth and tentacles” more than once.
Rating: I’d tell you to ask for all of your money back, but if you were dumb enough to actually hand your money over, you deserve to lose it.