Thursday, April 7, 2011

681. THE THING (1982)

Running Time: 109 minutes
Directed By: John Carpenter
Written By: Bill Lancaster, from the story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.
Main Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Donald Moffat, Richard Dysart


I took a small break from the "Antonioni Week" festivities today and me and the wife decided to check out "The Thing" via the streaming portion of Netflix. "The Thing" is a film that I've wanted to see for the longest time and today I finally saw it and proved that hyping a film in your own mind, will usually lead to disappointment.

The film starts with a lone canine running across the snow covered ground of Antarctica. A helicopter approaches in the distance and the passenger wields a rifle and begins to fire at the galloping dog. The dog eventually makes its way into an American Research station and the helicopter, which is later revealed to be carrying Norwegians, doesn't halter, but continues to fire. The crew from the American research station run out to see what the fuss is and one of them is shot in the confusion. Eventually the Norwegian shooter is taken down by one of the Americans and the dog is safe. Seems like a lot of hubbub for a dog, but later it is revealed that the dog is no ordinary pooch and that he's actually doubling as a vessel for an otherworldly being, one that aims to cause harm (as opposed to the E.T., friendly kind of otherworldly being). Led my MacReady (Russell), the group of Americans is ten strong and due to some investigations by Doctor Blair (Brimley), he deduces that if the "thing" that is living inside the dog makes its way into any of them, it could potentially spread to the rest of the world in a matter of hours. Now paranoia reigns supreme, as the rest of the group become increasingly suspicious that other members of the group have already been infected.


Maybe "disappointment" was too harsh a word, as me and my wife actually did have a lot of fun playing guessing games as to who was infected and yelling things at the television in hopes of saving the Americans. I guess, in the end, I just really shouldn't have over-hyped it for myself and maybe it would have been a lot more enjoyable. Once the film gets into the whole "One or more of us may be infected...No one can be trusted" angle, then it gets pretty riveting and really intense and that's where this film really picks up some steam. However, that takes somewhere between forty five minutes to one hour to get going, meaning we have to make our way through a lot of groundwork that just doesn't make for very exciting movie time. Another MAJOR problem I had with the film was WAY too many characters. At the risk of exposing my lack of intelligence, all of the characters were just too hard to keep track of and I found myself pausing the film a lot to ask my wife "Who's Windows?" or "Which one is Fuchs?".

Another big problem for me was the predictability of the whole affair. At about the halfway mark I told my wife, "If Kurt Russell ends up being one of the ones infected, then I'll boost the rating of this film." Guess what? Of course, Kurt Russell doesn't get infected, because that would just be too off the wall. Another angle they could've went with is to borrow an idea from that old Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street", in which it's basically a character study dealing with the effects of paranoia on a group of people. After the threat was contained and the twelve are still intact, have them become increasingly paranoid of one another, even though none of them are infected. Eventually the wind up killing each other one by one, because their paranoia becomes too strong to ignore. But, again, way too off the wall, I'm sure. I get that it's a remake and you have a certain responsibility to maintain the plot of the original film, but we could've changed it up a little bit and went in a more risque direction.

RATING: 6.5/10 Despite my griping, "The Thing" still provided me and my wife with a fun afternoon of movie watching and that's worth something. Lesson for today, when you get the idea to see a certain film...SEE IT and don't wait forever, because your anticipation will only heighten and you'll probably end up disappointed.


April 7, 2011 5:07pm


  1. I really thought Kurt Russell was great in this movie and this was pretty early on in his career. I am going to have to see this movie again it has been a while. Seeing the picture and reading your post reminded me of all the crazy stuff this movie showcased. I heard from people I work with at Dish Network that they are actually making a prequel to this movie which I am pretty excited about. That along gives me reason to see this movie again too. Just so I am all caught up. I just saw that it's going to be on this Friday so I'll just stream it to my phone while I am on my lunch break.

  2. Yeah I actually saw something about the prequel, right after I watched this. Apparently it's supposed to be about what happened to the Swedish team and right up until the canine runs into the American camp. Sounds interesting.

  3. I guess you will not be at all surprised that my comment for this one is "I thought the original version was better" - Despite my copy being one of those the evil Ted Turner colourised.


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