John Carpenter’s The Thing may be among the greatest remakes of all time. It shares little with its predecessor, and actually calling it a remake may be unnecessary, as they’re both born from the novella Who Goes There? Anyway, let’s call it a remake – let’s not mince words, because if I did that now, the rest of my argument wouldn’t make much sense, because I’m calling out 2011’s The Thing for not copping to what it is. The thing is, it’s exactly what it seems like, unlike the alien in the movie, but the filmmakers just won’t admit their film is a remake.
I mean, they sort of aren’t against calling it a re-something. Kind of. See, to them it’s a prequel. It tells the stories of the Norwegians, so it’s part of the canon. It can’t be a remake if it actually takes place in the storyline. It just becomes an installment of the franchise.
Normally, that’s fine. Who cares? A prequel isn’t as good as a sequel, generally, but we regard it as a step up from a remake. But here’s the problem: watch the trailer for The Thing.
This movie is a God damned remake and there ain’t no two ways about it.
There are tons of similarities. Not just call backs to the previous film, but straight up color by number coincidences that are evident just from the trailer.
Right off the bat, our hero is the same: a rogue, scoundrel of a helicopter pilot with a beard. Granted, Joel Edgerton’s beard doesn’t have shit on Kurt Russell’s, but still. If it’s not a remake, why is our protagonist a helicopter pilot? Then we also get a tough looking black guy in Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. I don’t have a problem with tough looking black dudes, but clearly this movie is recasting the role of Keith David’s Childs. The point is – if this isn’t a remake, why don’t we have all new characters? I’m sure the goofy looking Eric Christian Olsen is playing the role of the goofy looking radio operator. So it’s not a remake, but we get the bearded helicopter pilot, the bad ass black dude, and the goofy looking radio operator.
Well, I guess we should just be thankful they chose Mary Elizabeth Winstead instead of a fat, mustached, Oatmeal eating diabetic. (I love you, Wilford)
Further into the trailer we notice several similar sets – like the recreation room with the pool table or the dog pen. Okay, so maybe dog pens all look alike, but we do get the same scene of a sled dog trying to eat through the fence to escape the alien.
There’s also some similar action, though it seems like we’ve got more flamethrowers this time around. We get the use of a flare to set a fire as someone yells “Burn it!” so with our knowledge of the original, we can assume this is probably when they’re all surrounding an alien body and dousing it with gasoline it’s screaming and they toss a flare on it. Great scene. Seen it.
So if you look at all these points, it’s pretty clear the film is a lot more remake than it is prequel. More so in that no one at this base is speaking Norwegian or carrying around the same weapons that we see in the original film. Where are the rifles? Why does everyone speak English?
Take another look at Carpenter’s film – if the crazy guys chasing down a dog would have just said, in English, “Hey man, that dog is infected” no one would have died. No one would have got shot in the face. It also raises the point how many helicopter pilots are on the base? Does that mean Joel Edgerton’s character gets to explode? Which lucky cast member gets shot in the head as their way out? How early on in the film does Winstead die? The basic problem with a remake like this is we know how it ends, with everyone dead. If that’s not how it ended, the main film wouldn’t make sense. It’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, if anyone made it out the cops would have shown up, or the FBI, so everyone must die. For this premake to happen correctly, everyone must die, and several must die in ways we already know.
So while this new incarnation of The Thing wants to pretend it’s not a remake, we know better. I wish they wouldn’t play coy about it. Just call it a remake. Or a premake. But it’s clearly not just a prequel – there are far too many coincidences with the Carpenter film. And as much as I’m looking forward to this film (I still am), watching the trailer for the first time sent me past my boiling point.