In case there are some who may be a little confused about the originals and re-

makes of  The Thing, I will attempt to clarify somewhat. In the first place, the quintes-

sential  1951 original “The Thing (from another world)”, which is celebrating it’s 60th

anniversary this year, is the foundation on which directors John Carpenter’s and  Matthijs

Hejningen’s versions firmly stem from. Both are based on John Campbell’s short story,

“Who Goes There.” In fact, if you watch the sci-fi classic first, you’ll realize that the pre-

sent version is an updated remake as well as a prequel to Carpenter’s 1982 film.

That being said, with three movies from different social and political eras having

the exact same title, renaming them Thing one, Thing two and Thing three would have

sounded like a Dr. Seuss epic rather than a sci-fi horror thriller. Would anyone have tak-

en it seriously? Probably not until they actually saw the movies.

Whether it was because Kurt Russell was the alpha male in the last “Thing”, and

it was a woman’s turn this time, or because women have played prominent figures in sci-

fi for years now(I prefer the latter), the idea of bringing in a female protagonist this go

round was excellent. Indeed, before Ridley Scott made that radical gender change for

the Alien franchise, there wasn’t  many a championess in the world of sci-fi.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead has now joined the ranks of

Sigourney Weaver and  The Terminator’s Linda Hamilton. Through a bizarre set of  cir-

cumstances (like her two fellow heroines), as Dr. Kate Lloyd, she’s literally ejected from

the demure “Snow White” mentality and transformed into a kick- butt survivor.

It’s 1982. Ronald Reagan is president, there’s no internet, and a Norwegian team of

scientists has just discovered something at the South Pole that could literally change his-

tory. After a massive cave in of ice underneath their Snow Cat causes them to plummet

through a deep fissure, three men find a huge alien space ship that apparently has been

there for quite some time. Even stranger, the one occupant is not in the ship but is some

distance away encased in ice too. Hmm.

American paleontologist Kate Lloyd is rocking to some eighties tunes while in her

lab when she is visited by the head scientist Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen). You

can almost sense his ongoing attitude of immediacy when he tells her of  both discover-

ies. Because he gives Kate no time to think about traveling 10,000 miles to Antarctica. Of

course she decides to go since it may be the find of a lifetime. It is. And she and this an-

xious team dig the specimen out and transport it to the remote outpost.

Thomsen’s Halvorson is a perfect reincarnation of Robert Cornthwaite’s Arthur Car-

rington from the 51 original, in that his devotion to science usurps preservation of human

life. Much to Kate’s chagrin, he has the ice block drilled for a tissue sample. But despite

the glorious celebration he has over this great find, what they all thought was dead, is ve-

ry much alive. And this is where the fun begins, with a creature who can play hide n’

seek within a human body.

The Thing is quite a step up for Mary Winstead. From being eye candy in Death Proof

and Scott Pilgrim to John Mclane’s estranged daughter in Live Free or Die Hard,

she’s landed a part here that, prayerfully will get her noticed for more meatier roles. Her

Kate Lloyd rises to the occasion, establishing her character as more than just pretty face

and taking command of a situation that quickly escalates into a  desperate fight for survi-

val in a remote place where now, no one can be trusted.

You learn quickly, as in John Carpenter’s take, why this thing is called “The Thing”

and it certainly cannot be dismissed as a character. Thanks to the stalwart geniuses of

visual effects, it takes on multiple grotesque forms with every human it forcibly melds

with. It would make any shape shifter  from Star Trek cringe. Therefore, eating before

this movie may be a bad idea.

If you can endure the monstrous images, this prequel/remake is an edgy popcorn flick

That always keeps you guessing who the real humans are and where the monster is hi-

ding. Director Hejningen apparently knows how to put a scare in us,  even do something

more original next time.