Director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. (yes, that is a real name) takes a lot of inspiration and most of the story from John Carpenter’s 1982 classic, the only ostensible difference being that this film takes place in the Norwegian camp immediately before the events of Carpenter’s.
The Norwegians unearth the titular Thing and call in some American paleontologists, among them the comely Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a young graduate student whose major qualification is that she provides a reason for the movie to be in English.
And from there, it plays out as you’d expect.
The Thing escapes from the ice, attacks and mimics people, and gets the living crap burned out of it. There’s no surprises here, as van Heijningen, Jr. essentially copies everything from Carpenter’s film and never builds on or advances the situations it’s recreating.
It barely tries to distinguish itself from it predecessor, so much so that one wonders why the director chose to make it as a prequel. However, the biggest misstep is in the Thing itself. The design is good, but there is no reason for it to be CGI.
Granted there’s some compelling images, such as the first assimilated victim and the melding of two faces, but every time the creature moves, it looks like a second-hand xenomorph from the Alien films.
The Thing is not a bad film, but it is an unnecessary one. Winstead is fun to watch, but the rest of the characters are just there to die.
For something stealing a lot from its predecessor, you’d hope it could have recaptured the magic. It doesn’t.
Best to rewatch the original remake.