When you remake something once then I suppose the floodgates have already opened. 'The Thing' posits itself as a prequel to John Carpenter's atmospheric remake of the 1950s original yet all the early signs point to this new film ostensibly being a remake. The new version supposedly examines the events preceding the 1982 film, focussing on the Norwegian team who first discover the alien being.
'The Thing' is directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, whose main credit thus far is the Dutch short 'Red Rain', although he also has a pedigree in directing commercials. His version of 'The Thing' stars rising talents Joel Edgerton ('Animal Kingdom') and 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World''s Mary Elizabeth Winstead. (Trivia: there were no female on-screen actresses in the 1982 version.)
van Heijningen Jr's film takes place three days before the events of Carpenter's version, with the Norwegian/international scientists discovering an extraterrestrial being in a spaceship crash in Antarctica. Unwittingly, they awaken and free the creature, which can mimic any life form it digests. The team must prevent the alien from killing one another and from reaching the wider world.
I wasn't as bowled over by Carpenter's film as many were but like most people, I have to question the need for this new film. I'm not even sure it makes sense in terms of the lineage of the 1982 film, which began with a Norwegian team member failing to express himself due to the language barrier - in this prequel, everyone appears to speaks English. Inevitably, the one that does survive will be non-English speaking. Or perhaps they'll go for a new (and hence, controversial) ending.
Despite my concerns, however, the film's full length trailer suggests that it may match its predecessors, with its evocative feel of Carpenter's version - albeit with a possible over-reliance on cheap scares. Regardless of the 2011 version's quality, one positive that could come out of the new film's release is the potential for screenings of the original versions on the big screen. Maybe even double or triple bills on the same evening. That's certainly something to look forward to.
'The Thing' is due out in the US in October and in the UK in December 2011. The 1982 version is showing on ITV at 10.35pm this evening (22nd).