'The Thing': What the Critics Are Saying

 Universal

While technically a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name, The Thing, directed by first-time feature director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., felt like a remake to many critics.

The comparisons to the John Carpenter’s older story run rampant in reviews, and most feel that the older version wins out.

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The Thing, which opens in theaters Friday, stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton as a researcher and a pilot who discover an seemingly dead alien at an Antarctica research site. Of course, it’s not dead, and wreaks havoc on the main characters as they try to fight it off, and stop it from reaching civilization.

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“This time around, Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen combines plenty of blood 'n' guts with pared down dramatics evidently intended to increase the tension and uncertainty about what's going on,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy.

“He's made a significant miscalculation, however, in loading up the cast with mostly light-brown-haired and bearded Norwegian guys with names like Lars and Olav and Edvard,” wrote McCarthy. “There's about a dozen of them and, especially in the minimal light of the small compound, it's impossible to tell them apart; even after they start being gobbled up, it's hard to know who's gone and who's left.”

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Tom Russo of The Boston Globe, however, praised the filmmaker’s prequel: “Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen and company deliver lean suspense, and they update the Carpenter crew’s gnarly alien-shapeshifter effects skillfully enough to remind us why the concept captures geek imaginations.”

“More diversity among the cast would also have helped to give the film more character flavor, varied temperatures and linguistic nuance,” wrote McCarthy.

“This new Thing recycles plot points and regurgitates key effects, albeit with a new-millennium layer of grossness,” wrote The New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis.

“Where the earlier film pulsed with precisely calibrated paranoia and distinctly drawn characters, this inarticulate replay unfolds as mechanistically as a video game,” she wrote.

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“Van Heijningen has very little to add to the discussion, and he's quick to revert to Thing tricks we've already seen: grotesque monster transformations; slimy alien autopsies; blowtorch-wielding creature hunters; and blood tests meant to identify the lurking threat,” wrote Sean O'Connell of The Washington Post.

“Part horror film, part space thriller and all gore-fest, the movie ends up being a lot like its protagonist: a mess of a monster that stretches itself too thin to scare much,” wrote Scott Bowles of USA Today.

He also writes that the film “amounts to a cinematic hot dog: It's full of body parts, but you won't get much from consuming it."

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