You can read this movie review without fear of spoilers. This isn’t because I was careful not to write any spoilers. It’s because, first of all, The Thing is a remake of a fairly iconic movie from 1982 so there’s a good chance you already know the whole plot. Second, even if you never heard of the original, you already know the whole plot if you’ve seen Alien, or Aliens, or pretty much any monster movie ever, or are over the age of three and have a functioning brain. Third, every single event that happens in the movie is telegraphed so blatantly that I’m amazed they didn’t take the next logical step and run subtitles across the bottom of every scene with large helpful arrows saying “In ten seconds the monster is going to jump out from THERE.”
The Thing would rate a perfect 10 on the hackneyed cliche-o-meter if they hadn’t missed two opportunities to use hackneyed cliches. In the scene where a terrified guy in a darkened room backs away from where he thinks the monster is coming from, he inexplicably fails to back right into the monster. Also, the woman who is the traditional last survivor continues to wear full Arctic clothing to the end, instead of somehow losing her outer clothing or having it ripped in a revealing way. This is the sort of lazy film-making that gives lazy film-makers an unjustifiably good name.
The costumes were also incredibly lazy. Now, you could probably watch the whole movie without realizing this, because everything looks like a perfectly normal polar base and everyone is dressed as you would expect of people at a modern polar base. The reason this is so lazy is that the movie is set in goddamn 1982. It says so at the beginning, but if you were shuffling your popcorn and missed it, there is no way you could tell from the rest of the movie. The cold-weather clothing looks like it’s made of modern materials. The male characters all have the sort of stubble, beards, and scruffy hair that you get on polar explorers in any era, and the female characters have 2011 hairstyles and 2011 makeup (shut up, of course polar explorers wear full makeup every day).
In the single non-polar scene, everyone is dressed like it’s 2011, but hey, there’s a Men At Work song playing in the background! Long after the movie was over, I realized this was supposed to be a scene-setting historical cue. When you hear a co-worker streaming Mozart on Spotify, do you assume you are in the 18th century? The people who made this film do.
Most of the characters are completely interchangeable. There is the woman you know will be the last survivor. There is the black guy you know will die horribly. How desperate would you have to be, to accept a top secret job where you know you will be the only black guy on the team? It’s pure suicide. You can see he knows this when he goes into the room where the mysterious scary thing is. It’s written all over his face.
All the other characters are Lars Beardimaan Gunnadiesoonson and you won’t even care which order they do it in.
An interesting thing I learned about fire from this movie is that it stays wherever you put it. Once it’s down to the heroine and Guy Who Will Die Second-To-Last, pretty much the whole station is on fire because they go around trying to kill the monster with the giant back-mounted flamethrower which is standard scientific equipment on every polar geological expedition. (Flamethrowers are so important in geology that the station has TWO of them.) After setting every damn thing on fire, they continue to stand in the burning room and have calm conversations, or walk slowly and casually through the burning corridors while the fire stays confined to the exact place where it is supposed to be. It will still be there the next morning. That is just how fire works.
Redeeming features of the movie? Hard to say. The only one I could come up with is that you could use it as an educational film if you’re learning Norwegian and want to know how to say things like “Oh shit!”* and “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEE”** and “Oh god nooooooo aaaaaaaaah helphelphelphelp IT’S EATING MY FACE kill it kill it kill it!”***
I know you’re thinking, “I probably do not need to know how to say that in Norwegian,” and that’s very likely to be true. But if you ever do, oh man, will you be sorry you didn’t learn. You don’t want to risk being in a situation some day where a space monster is eating your face and you don’t know how to instruct bystanders that you would like them to kill it.
***Herregud neeeeeiii aaaaah hjelphjelphjelphjelp DEN SPISER ANSIKTET MITT drep den drep den drep den!