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File: The Thing 2011
The Thing is a 2011 science fiction horror film directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., and written by Eric Heisserer. It is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter, the plot taking place immediately prior to the events of that film. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton who are part of a team of Norwegian and American scientists who discover an alien buried deep in the ice of Antarctica, realizing too late that it is still alive, consuming then imitating the team members.
The film was shot in the anamorphic format on 35mm film, as the director dislikes the look of films shot digitally. The director chose not to fast cut the film, instead opting for a slower pace, hoping to build a sense of pending dread. The prequel was filmed in Pinewood Toronto Studios, Port Lands on March 22, 2010 and ended on June 28, 2010. On set, the director had a laptop computer which contained "a million" screen captures of the Carpenter film, which he used as a point of reference to keep the Norwegian camp visually consistent with the first film. Additional Visual Effects were created by With A Twist. Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. created the practical creature effects for the film, in the studios of Amalgamated Dynamics.
In addition to creating the effects for the human-Thing transformations, Gillis, Woodruff and their team had the challenge of coming up with the look of the alien in the ice block unearthed by the Norwegians. While it was initially only intended to be shown as a silhouette, the director liked their designs and encouraged them to fully create the creature, which was realised by creating a monster suit that Tom Woodruff wore. The effects team opted to use cable-operated animatronics over more complex hydraulic controls, as they felt they gave a more "organic feel". In order to emulate the creature effects of the first film, Heisserer revealed that traditional practical effects would be used on the creatures whenever possible. The film's computer generated imagery was created by Image Engine, the effects house who worked on Neil Blomkamp's 2009 film District 9.
Computer Graphics were used to digitally create extensions on some of the practical animatronic effects, as well as for digital matte paintings and set extensions. Alec Gillis stated that the advancement of animatronic technology since 1982 combined with digital effects allowed the effects team to expand upon the possible creature conceptions. Matthijs van Heijningen preferred to use practical effects over computer imagery, as he believed actors give better performances when they have something physical to react to. Stunt men covered in fire-retardant gel were used in scenes when characters are set on fire. The original Ennio Morricone score was reflected in the film's score, but Morricone did not score the film, nor was his music from the 1982 version used.
The interior of the crashed alien spacecraft was created by production designer Sean Haworth. To design the ship, Haworth had to recreate what little was shown of the spacecraft in the Carpenter film, then "fill the gaps" for what was not originally shown. Haworth and a team of approximately twelve others then created the inside of the ship as a several story high interior set constructed mostly out of a combination of foam, plaster, fiberglass, and plywood. The ship was designed specifically to look as if it were not made to accommodate humans, but rather alien creatures of different size and shape who could walk on any surface. A section of the craft called the "pod room" was designed to imply the alien creatures manning it had collected specimens of different alien species from around the universe for a zoological expedition.
While the film was originally set for release in April, Universal Pictures changed the date to October 14, 2011, to allow time for reshoots. The intention of the reshoots was to "enhance existing sequences or to make crystal clear a few story beats or to add punctuation marks to the film's feeling of dread."
The Thing received negative reviews. It currently holds a 33% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 129 critic reviews, with an average rating of 5 out of 10. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 49 based on 31 reviews. Kathleen Murphy of MSN Movies rated it two-and-a-half out of five stars, calling it "a subpar slasher movie tricked out with tired 'Ten Little Indians' tropes and rip-offs from both Carpenter and the Christian Nyby-Howard Hawks' 1951 version of the chilling tale that started it all, John W. Campbell Jr.'s Who Goes There?". Jim Vejvoda of IGN Movies also rated the film two-and-a-half out of five, saying, "This incarnation of The Thing is much like the creature it depicts: An insidious, defective mimic of the real, er, thing. It's not an entirely lost cause, but it is a needless one". Roger Ebert gave the film two and a half stars out of four, the same rating he gave the 1982 film.
In CinemaScore polls users gave the film a "B-" on an A+ to F scale. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film a rating of 75 out of 100, saying "While I wish van Heijningen's Thing weren't quite so in lust with the '82 model, it works because it respects that basic premise; and it exhibits a little patience, doling out its ickiest, nastiest moments in ways that make them stick". Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com called it "Loving prequel to a horror classic", saying "It's full of chills and thrills and isolated Antarctic atmosphere and terrific Hieronymus Bosch creature effects, and if it winks genially at the plot twists of Carpenter's film, it never feels even a little like some kind of inside joke."
James Berardinelli gave it three stars out of four, saying that it "offers a similar overall experience" to the 1982 film "without replicating styles and situations". Other critics singled out Mary Elizabeth Winstead for praise in her performance as the lead, Dr. Kate Lloyd. " stands out with her portrayal of a paleontologist. She keeps a cool, logical head whilst others around her start to panic. It’s a refreshing change from your traditional horror film where the lead characters do moronic things as if to prolong the story" Matthew Toomey of The Film Pie wrote. Josh Bell of Las Vegas Weekly rated the film three out of five stars and wrote, "Winstead makes for an appealing protagonist, and Kate is portrayed as competent without being thrust into some unlikely action-hero role".
The music composed for the film by Marco Beltrami was released in October 11, 2011.
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