Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) is Kate Lloyd, a paleontologist asked to accompany a not-so mad-acting mad scientist on an expedition to Antarctica.
They’re checking out the discovery of a frozen alien and its ship. The movie is The Thing and other than Winstead, the only other slightly recognizable actor in the cast of mostly unknowns is Joel Edgerton, whose star rose recently in Warrior. He’s an American helicopter pilot and as close as the characters get to a love interest.
Predictably the alien thaws, is still alive, gets loose, somehow gets into the bodies of its victims, mimics their cell structure and at the proper time — and as a total surprise to the other characters — it morphs into a monster that looks somewhat like the human it is impersonating. Then the Thing kills.
In the end, a sequel is set up. As will be noted later, the sequel has already been done and — fingers crossed — this film’s producers will avoid a re-do.
What is it with aliens in horror movies? They’ve used mind-boggling, advanced, inexplicable technology to travel maybe thousands of light years to end up here. Their ships are huge. Some are acres long. Most have hallways that look like hollow bones and passageways that don’t seem to really go anywhere.
Just one alien is housed inside. All that space for one being?
With all that advanced thinking and mastery of technology, when the aliens get here they’re savage monsters with one goal in mind. Kill and eat humans. And in as gory and bloody way as possible.
Does that make sense? Not really.
It’s horror, so making sense isn’t the priority. This version of The Thing is based on John W. Campbell’s 1951 short story, turned movie, turned movie again as a sequel by John Carpenter in 1982. The sequel starred Kurt Russell. Carpenter’s version was inventive, original, included great humans-turning-into-monsters effects and had action-hero Russell at the top of his game.
Here, no one is at the top of their game.
Until this film, director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s experience is one music video and one short. Short fits. Van Heijningen is woefully short on storytelling skills. His film and Eric Heisserer’s screenplay are paint-by-numbers horror. It lacks the shock essentials needed to make it worth a trip to the theater.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated R for blood, gore, language and mature themes. It opens today at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.