Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recycling the Plot and Music for 'The Thing', I Mean Prequel

The trailer for 'The Thing' doesn't do that much for me, but it's okay.

Watching it, though, I'm struck that this movie is being called a prequel. It doesn't seem to set up John Carpenter's 1982 flick at all. (I'll assume we're not talking about the 1951 movie here. The trailer clearly doesn't take place in the 50s). That is, there's nothing in the trailer which hints at an explanation of events leading up to the starting point of the 1982 movie. That would be required for it to be considered a prequel. Yes?

In fact, from what I can tell, the plot of this movie does not deviate in any substantial way from the plot of John Carpenter's 1982 movie. Let's take a look, shall we.

(I just posted this but, for convenience, I'll re-post).

<a href='' target='_new' title='&#39;The Thing&#39; Movie Trailer' >Video: &#39;The Thing&#39; Movie Trailer</a>

Here are the main plot points from the trailer for the prequel:

1: Takes place in the arctic (or antarctic) -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

2: They fly around in helicopters -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

3: They find this thing in a block of ice -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie (UPDATE: Sorry, got confused. They did this in the 1951 original, not the 1982 remake)

4: There is tension between scientists and other powers that be (the scientist wants to take a tissue sample of the thing and the protagonist [I believe that's Mary Winstead] challenges him) -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

3: The thing thaws and escapes the block of ice -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie (UPDATE: Sorry, got confused. They did this in the 1951 original, not the 1982 remake. In the remake there's some thawing, though.)

4: It attacks the dogs (though this point isn't clear, there are dogs in the 'prequel' I'll just go out on a limb and assume the thing attacks the dogs) -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

5: The thing attacks a human leaving a horrible mess, but nobody seems injured -- Okay, they didn't do that in Carpenter's 1982 movie (or the 1951 movie) so that's one original plot element for 'The Thing' prequel (cough not a prequel but a remake cough)

6: They suspect each other as not being who they say they are or (dum dum daaah!) what they appear to be -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

7: Discover the thing imitates a host's cell structure (with somewhat flimsy CGI microscopic views) -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie (except they didn't have CGI. Have to point that out lest I lose credibility).

8: Determine that they "can't let this thing leave" -- did that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

9: There's a lot of fighting, monsters running around, fire, and explosions -- had that in Carpenter's 1982 movie

10: Then, at the end of the trailer, they even recycle Ennio Morricone and John Carpenter's music (from John Carpenter's 1982 movie).

Okay, so that's 9 things taken from the original and one minor superficial thing that's new. You know what that sounds like to me? A fucking remake. A rehash. That's what that sounds like. Same plot, same music, essentially the same movie redone to pocket some easy cash.

U...n...l...e...s...s they're saying this (the plot of the prequel, that is) is what happened in the camp that was found (in the beginning of John Carpenter's 1982 movie) all burned up and fucked up, full of holes, with snow inside, and dead people all over the place. Is that their angle? They're saying this is a prequel because it explains what happened just before those crazed Swiss guys (or whatever they were) tried to kill that dog by shooting at it from a helicopter in the opening of Carpenter's 1982 movie. Is that what they're saying?

Problem with that is, as mentioned, the camp was Swiss (actually, I don't remember, but I'm going with Swiss -- like it makes a difference). The camp in the 'prequel' doesn't seem to have anybody that's Swiss. Okay, that's a trivial point. What are they supposed to do -- speak Swiss (French, German, whatever) with English subtitles? Okay, no -- they can't do that. So everybody in 'The Thing' (2011) speaks American English. Got it. I'll let it go. However, if this plot explains what happened in the camp from the beginning of Carpenter's 1982 movie, then why is it exactly the same plot? They're telling us that, in their 'prequel', exactly the same thing happens that happened in Carpenter's 1982 movie. In other words: what happens in the prequel? Exactly the same thing that happened in the original, but, as the prequel occurs before the original it's a prequel (not a remake) despite the technicality of having precisely the same plot. See?

(I'll stop here a moment so you can re-read the preceding paragragh).

Sure. I know. The same thing could have happened exactly the same way -- twice. This monster could have been found frozen in a block of ice, and yadda-yadda-yadda...then, it's found in a block of ice again -- IN ANOTHER CAMP. That could have happened. Why not? I've heard of that. Right? Sure, we've heard of that happening. But, how is that something you can hang your hat on as a moviemaker? How the hell can producers call this a prequel when it has the same exact plot as the original?

So, could we stop with the 'prequel' thing. It's a remake, folks. They as much as admit it -- it's based on the same short story written in 1910 by John Campbell Jr. which was the basis for the previous 'The Thing' movies. They just want your box office dollars. That's it, that's all. They called it a prequel because no freaking body wants to see a remake of 'The Thing'. We already had a remake. We saw that movie. It was called 'The Thing' and was directed by John Carpenter back in 1982 and had essentially the same plot as the 1951 original directed by Christian Nyby with James Arness.

And, what about hoisting Ennio Morricone and John Carpenter's theme music? Is that an homage or, as with everything else about this movie (read: screenplay), simply the cheapest way out? I mean, why pay a composer for new music when you can just recycle the old (original) music? They didn't pay a screenwriter (except what it cost to tweak Bill Lancaster's original screenplay), so why pay for new music?

So, because Universal was too cheap to cook up a new story about finding a monster that replicates itself and can imitate its host perfectly and threatens to wipe out the human race we have to sit through this silly remake (not prequel) of 'The Thing'. I like 'The Thing' but we've had two of those. Maybe it's time we move on.

Okay... Deep breath. Rant over. Calm. Serenity now.

If you're interested, and you don't know the music from the 1982 movie, here it is. Compare it to the music in the last 15 seconds of the 'prequel' trailer. (Starting at 2:15).


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