103 minutes

It must be said from the get-go that there is nothing inherently wrong with Dutch adman Matthijs van Heijningen's take on John W. Campbell's twice-previously filmed short story "Who Goes There?". The tale of an Antarctic expedition that finds and releases a malevolent, terrifying shape-shifting alien creature is adequately presented as a no-nonsense B-grade horror/sci-fi programmer, efficiently accomplished by a second-tier cast and crew. The only thing The Thing has going against it is its honourable list of predecessors: the 1951 black-and-white classic directed by Christian Nyby and masterminded by Howard Hawks, and John Carpenter's 1982 colour-saturated freakout, widely panned at the time but since reappraised as a genre classic.

     The nicest thing that can be said about Mr. van Heijningen's film is that the production doesn't pretend to be a remake of either, but rather a prequel to Mr. Carpenter's take on the material, telling the story of the Norwegian crew whose destroyed installations are found by Kurt Russell in that film. That doesn't make what comes next any less duplicating of the 1982 Thing, down to the diabolical, Boschian metamorphosis of the Thing itself, or make it any less of a soulless attempt at remaking what didn't need to be remade at all, but at least it defuses any ill will towards the film and the professionalism of its makers. Or, in short: not badly done, and probably would stand up quite well by itself if there hadn't been two previous films, but since there have been, what's the point?

Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen, Trond Espen Sein. 
     Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen; produced by Marc Abraham, Eric Newman; screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on the short story by John W. Campbell, "Who Goes There?"; music by Marco Beltrami; director of photography (colour, Panavision widescreen), Michel Abramowicz; production designer, Sean Haworth; costume designer, Luis Sequeira; film editors, Julian Clarke, Peter Boyle; visual effects supervisor, Jesper Kjölsrud; special make-up and effects, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr.
     A Universal Pictures/Morgan Creek Productions presentation of a Strike Entertainment production, in association with Dentsu. (US distributor and world sales, Universal Pictures.)
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 9 (Lisbon), October 28th 2011.


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