Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Sunday, 24 February 2013


A version of the legendary science fiction classic gets made after over 30 years...

Argo (2012) is a CIA thriller based on the true events about the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1980.

The film opens with the history of Iran's leaders leading up to the crisis, including the U.S.'s despicable involvement. Protests follow and demonstrators rush and take over the U.S. Embassy. Six workers escape through the back and take sanctuary in the Canadian Embassy. The State department tries some ridiculous sounding plans before turning to a top CIA expert who proposes making a movie s a cover.

Much of the intensity of Argo comes from its opening which gives us an excellent summary of events and the first look at the hostages attempting to escape the crisis. Especially after the comparison shots at the end, you really see the strive for realism that creates much of the tension in the movie. Many of these things actually happened (and to a large extent are still happening). The fact that the U.S. isn't portrayed in the best light either, is also a boon to the film. During one of the news sections, it shows a man being beaten simply for being an Iranian. We've come so far...

Our Hero
Agent Tony Mendez goes undercover as producer Kevin Harkin to get the hostages out alive. He tries to split his time between work and family, doing the best he can at it. The fact that the subplot with his family isn't neatly resolved is nice, though they do leave you with the happy ending feeling. During the mission, the tension is more on the hostages and Tony is portrayed as relaxed and in control.

The Players
The fake move side involves make artist John Chambers and producer Lester Siegel. Siegel is the only prominent character who is entirely fictional. John Chambers was an actual man who helped make the Argo project happen. Aside from their main roll in facilitating the movie end of it, they also provide a good bit of humor during the darker times in the film.

The hostages, Robert Anders, Mark Lijek, Cora Lijek, Joe Stafford, Kathy Stafford, and Lee Schatz, are put under intense pressure as they must remain in the Canadian Ambassador's house for two months as the Iranians hunt them down. The tension and stress gets just the right amount of stress. Including a subplot in which Mark blames himself for his wife's capture that leads to him initially resisting Tony's offer of escape.

Atmosphere of Crisis
The images of burning American flags and chanting in the streets is a chilling sight. The justified anger in the protestors' eyes as they lash out at whoever they can really helps sell the opening scenes. The stakes are revealed through men hung off cranes and harsh radio broadcasts. It even shows people dragged out and shot in the streets. It was a time of crisis and it comes across as hauntingly similar to what we see on the news today.

In the End
After some uneeded forced tension (that didn't actually happen) the film moves on to its actually ending. It even provides some comparison photos and a voice over by Jimmy Carter during the credits. Other than the forced tension, the ending was solid and nicely paid off.

Argo is an entertaining thriller that certainly deserves some nods at the Oscars. The cast is great and the pacing and tension are solid. It is also highly enjoyable.

Looks like I won't be getting around to the others until after the Academy Awards tonight, if at all. Zero Dark Thirty (and its controversy) really don;t interest me. I've heard such mixed reviews about the two and a half hour Le Mis that I have become thoroughly disinterested. Finally, I hated the novel for Life of Pi, so I may do a rant about the movie later (along with my thoughts on how the awards go down).

As for the best pictures nominees I've seen:
  1. Lincoln
  2. Django Unchained
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Amour
  5. Argo
  6. The Silver Linings Playbook
That would be my ranking order. We'll see how it goes tonight.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Amour 2012

The only foreign language film to make the 2012 best picture list.

Amour (2012) is about the hardest parts of love.

The Fire Brigade busts open an apartment door and quickly searches it. They find a woman in a back room lying surrounded by flowers, dead. It cuts to the title, Amour, which means love in French. We then go to our couple Anne and George Laurent as they attend concerts and chat. In the middle of a conversation in their kitchen, Anne freezes. George tries to snap her out of it, he even puts a damp cloth on her head. She has had a stoke.

This is about a family dealing with Anne's two strokes and eventual death. This one strikes very close to home as my grandmother suffered similar issues early last year. This is a hard watch even without the personal baggage attached. That said, it is a beautifully simple film that allows the story to unfold without much of the frill or drama.

Our Family
George Laurent is a husband who tries his best to care for his wife in addition to complying with her requests. He handles this task admirably at first, but soon the strain begins to show as Anne becomes more difficult and he slowly loses the woman he loves. He is not the all perfect, ever steeled warrior of myth. He is a simple man and he deals with the problems the best he can.

Anne Laurent is George's wife who struggles through two strokes and the indignity of losing her mobility, then her speech, and finally her mind. She starts off as a music lover and high class French woman who loves the theater and music especially. She was a piano teacher and a few of her students have even become quite successful. The indignity of her illness becomes more and more unbearable to her as the film moves toward the only possible conclusion.

Eva Laurent is Anne and George's daughter. She has her own life and problems, but she is a deeply concerned daughter who wants to help her parents. However; George doesn't want to inconvenience her life and Anne would rather not have her daughter see her in her crippled state. I can definitely relate to her feelings. Hurray, Helplessness.

Limited Atmosphere
99% of the film takes place in the Laurents' apartment. We see them out at a concert early in the film, but the rest is confined to about five rooms. The framing and character involvement really draw one closer to the characters. This is not a film for everyone with its lingering shots and long takes. There is an entire scene where George catches a pigeon. That being said, it is very beautiful.

In the End
Some may be surprised, but others won't be. I cried.

It is hard to put this one on the same field as the others. It certainly isn't a traditionally enjoyable film. It is hard to watch emotionally and in general. However, like many great things it shines a light on the harder sides of life. We all get old. We all face death. We deal with it the best we can. If you're looking for a film that'll make you think about how deep one person can love another. This might be the film for you.

Tomorrow, I tackle a less challenging film, I hope.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Django Unchained

I love Westerns. Love them.

Django Unchained (2012) is Quentin Tarantino's salute to the Western genre.

Men on horseback march slaves through the deserts of Texas and into the frostier climbs of Arizona. They slow as a wagon approaches and call out for the driver to identify himself. He does, as Dr. King Shultz, a dentist in search of specific slave, Django. After an altercation results in Dr. Shultz killing one of the slavers and wounding the other, he reveals he is a bounty hunter who requires Django to identify three former plantation owners for him.

This epic, loosely based on the legends of Siegfried, is a bit of an excessive legend about a freed slave trying to regain his lost wife. After hearing so much about how potentially racist this film is supposed to be (it does say the 'n' word a lot), it seems that many overlook the fact that this film goes out of its way to linger on the worst parts of slavery. The mandingo and dog scenes are brutal. There has also been a lot of talk about the violence in the film. There is a an almost cartoonish amount of gore that is typical of Mr. Tarantino's flims (see DC's reviews of all of them), but none of it inspired me to go on a shooting spree.

Our Heroes
Django Freeman is a newly freed slave who revels in learning the profession of bounty hunting, but really longs to get his wife back. His quick skill with a gun is a little hard to believe, but his relationships with those around him isn't. Django acts as an almost secondary character during the first half of the film. He rarely speaks as he learns bounty hinting from Dr. Shultz. However; by the end he truly comes into his own and brings all the gravitas needed.

Dr. King Shultz is a German dentist turned bounty hunter. He is hilarious. The way he works around situations and goes into everything with a thorough plan. It's when things begin to go wrong that everything becomes more interesting. I sincerely hope actor Christoph Waltz brings home Best Supporting Actor for this.

Our Fair Lady
Broomhilda 'Hilde' Von Shaft is the fair maiden who must be rescued from the mountaintop, also know as Candieland. She appears as an ethereal guide to Django for the beginning of the film before the reality of the situation nearly destroys both Django and his actual beloved. It is incredibly surprising how attached and worried for the pair which is part the work of the lovely slow build in the film and part an extension of Dr. Shultz's own concern. I was a little surprised that Hilde doesn't grow beyond fairytale princess status, but she doesn't really need to.

Vicious Foes
Stephen is the ultimate 'Uncle Tom' for his master. Django describes black servants selling each other out as the lowest of the low and the film works hard to show that as well. Samuel L. Jackson can can a little distracting as his "mother f-ing" pulled me out of the film, but it isn't too bad. The end of Stephen and Django's conflict also gives some ground to the 'this film is racist' camp, but it's very little.

Monsieur Calvin J. Candie is a francophile who is the leading purveyor of mandingo fighters in the south. He owns Hilde and seems unlikely to give her up. With his flair for the dramatic and eye for detail he quickly builds himself into a worthy foe for Shultz and Django.

Expansive Atmosphere
Django and Shultz travel all over the United States in search of bounties and Broomhilda. I was surprised when at the end of the film I found that it was only shot in Wyoming (a staple of modern Westerns) and Louisiana. Everything is beautiful and the locations are exceptionally crafted. The music in this movie is also fantastic. It is a mix of old and new that really helps drive whatever scene its in. It helps that it wasn't until the credits that I disliked a song.

In the End
The end probably has the most issues out of anything in this movie. It is enjoyable and will keep anyone guessing.

The first half of this film is so funny that I don't think I stopped laughing for more than a few minutes at a time. It is very Tarantino humor, but it definitely works. The staples of the genre are pulled together nicely and Tarantino's excesses fit very well in the frame of the genre. This could have easily become Wild Wild West, but instead rises above it to become a dazzling fun ride that stands out well. See it if you love Westerns or Tarantino.

Tomorrow, or, hopefully, in about six hours [Yay, post-datitng], I think I'll go a bit foreign.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Well, I promised a non-nine, but this isn't the movie I was thinking of...

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) is a dysfunctional romantic comedy that has just the right amount of quirk to get the Academy's attention.

Pat is a bipolar guy, recently released from a mental institution, who has two goals: get his emotions under control and get his wife back. He was committed after beating the man he found having sex with his wife in the shower. Pat moves back in with his parents, but has a long way to go before he turns his life around. To try and help, his friend and the friend's wife introduce Pat to her sister, Tiffany. Tiffany recently lost her husband and suffers from severe depression. Can they overcome their issues together?

This film begins with Pat's life a the mental institution and takes a while before it even gives the flashback about why he's there. Little point of view things, like this wouldn't, be a problem if they remained tightly focused on him. However; Tiffany isn't even introduced until about a quarter of the way into the movie and her problems become equally as big an issue at Pat's. I think this movie might have benefited from a more equal portrayal of their lives.

Our Tragic Heroes
Pat is a slave to his emotions and cannot handle the stress that his expectation bring him. That said, unlike several movies that portray mentally unbalanced protagonists, he is actually a likeable guy who seems capable of growing beyond his numerous flaws. The fact that this movie centers not only on his romance with Tiffany, but his relationships with his father, mother and older brother, really help to fully realize the character and the reasons behind his problems. We get about two scenes with the ex-wife and she's not a major character, which really helps the audience focus on him and his perception of her.
Tiffany has serious issues with her depression that lead her into short shallow physical relationships to fill the void in her life. She quickly latches onto Pat as he is not out to use her like many others in her life. She has a passion for dancing and needs a serious partner to accomplish her goals.The build-up and obvious instability, yet desire to get something right is primarily portrayed through looks and simple actions, though when she explodes, things get messy. This performance is certainly worthy of the Oscar that is seems likely to land actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Crazy Observers
Pat's family is almost as crazy as he is. His father has lost the family restaurant and taken to bookmaking to keep things afloat. His mother is overly protective and unwilling to see how unhinged much of their lives have become. Pat's brother just seems to want to keep his head low and get through things. The relationship with his father is what brings in the sports part of the film. His father is an Eagles fan and feels that watching the game with his son is good luck.So, when Tiffany threatens to drag them apart, conflict ensues. Fortunately, this plot moves beyond that stupid setup into something much more fun and inventive.

Pat's friends are almost much lost causes as he is. Danny is a mental patient with a propensity for trying to escape the institution. He ends up becoming more of a strange wise man, but brings a lot of fun and humor into this darker rom-com. This is also a surprisingly restrained performance by Chris Tucker, I didn't even recognize him for about half the move. Pat's other friend Ronnie is in a struggling marriage with Tiffany's sister. Both these characters allow Pat to get away from the drama and show us that he really is a nice guy at heart.

Suburban Atmosphere
The true genius of this film lies in how crazy it makes the everyday. Almost everyone in this has something wrong with them. The fact that most of this film is set in suburban houses, diners and bars bring it home even more. We're all crazy, some of us more than others. I also like the idea of trying to feel and realize other people's pain. Empathy is an emotion that really needs to be brought back into the forefront of our society.

In the End
The end slips back into more typical rom-com fluffiness, but it remains hard to knock it. This film takes so many other routes at subverting the genre. This is the modern equivalent of a screwball comedy where the screwiness actually is a mental disorder, but I think I just upset some people by even mentioning that. Suffice it to say, I laughed, I didn't quite cry, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Is this the date movie that will finally bring together sports lovers and Dancing with the Stars fans? Actually, it just might, and manages the whole thing effortlessly. I can't quite call it great, but it was very charming and amusing. The ensemble cast brought out the best in each other and the material. See it with someone you love.

Tomorrow, (also known as when I wake up since I'm back dating these) I dive into one of my favorite genres.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This has been long overdue. Continuing the Oscar trend, I tale a look at the shortest of the Best Picture nominees:

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) is a modern American folktale about the struggles of a young poor Louisiana girl.

Hushpuppy lives with her father in the tiny community of Bathtub south of the great levee. Bathtub is a happy community that thrives off of fishing in the swamps. However; Hushpuppy's father is sick and a storm is coming that will change her life.

This film is an interesting blend of folktale and the human condition. Though some are calling this a fantasy film, it is extremely light on fantasy elements. It prefers instead to dwell on the human condition and what makes us feel. Mind you, a novel could be written about the imagery, the characters the story and what they all mean (or could mean), but the true strength of this film lies in the fact that you don't need to examine it. I highly recommend sitting back and enjoying your first viewing.

Our Hero
Hushpuppy is a happy-go-lucky girl who lives with her father and many pets on the isle of Bathtub, south of the Louisianan Levy. She's taught in school about how global warming will one day destroy their home and release the primal man-eating Aurochs on mankind. (Mercifully, the global warming thread is not beaten over the head.) Her main concern is her father's well-being and getting enough to eat. She also lives in a wondrous fantasy world that many children enjoy.

Paternal Observer
Wink is a simple man whose favorite thing is reminiscing to his daughter about her mother. He makes a living fishing in the bayou and will do anything to keep his Hushpuppy safe.

Bayou Atmosphere
The magical realism brought to the lower class lifestyle is simply remarkable. The places are made at once real and fantastic. Even the refugee camp is given kind of a cold purgatory-esque feeling.

In the End
This is certainly a film that shows great restraint in building the father daughter relationship. It knows just the right moment to deliver a solid emotion filled knockout. There is some clutter, but overall the ending is a satisfying conclusion to this strange little movie (and I mean little in the best senses of the word).

This film is not for everyone, but it straddles the line of art and fairy tale film flawlessly. It is a beautiful complex tale that works on multiple levels. See it if you enjoy modern folklore and Americana or are interested in a movie that'll make you think.

Tomorrow (and it won't be another week), I'lll try do deliver a non-9/10 film. I have just the one in mind.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Lincoln 2012

Since, the Academy Awards are coming up, I thought I'd put out my thoughts on a few of them. I'm going to start with one of my favorites.

Lincoln (2012) is an excellent piece of historical film making by writer Tony Kushner and director Steven Spielberg.

The film opens with scenes of Civil War combat. We cut to Lincoln speaking with two black soldiers about the abolishment of slavery. Two white soldiers interrupt by bring up Lincoln's famous Gettysburg address. They start it, but are called away before finishing. One of the black soldiers finishes it before leaving. We then see a blurry Lincoln aboard a ship headed for land in the distance. After waking up, he tells it to his wife. She believes it is about passing the 13th amendment and begs him not to destroy his popularity by trying to pass it.

This film is more about passing the 13th Amendment than an overview of Lincoln's life. Since the end result should be known, by most American viewers at least, the film focuses more on the characters and pressures that occurred while trying to pass it.

Our Hero
President Abraham Lincoln has recently been re-elected and has been through four years of the American Civil War. However, he feels the time is right to push the 13th Amendment through during the lame duck session of congress. Lincoln is portrayed masterfully by Daniel Day-Lewis as a quirky old man who enjoys telling stories. Lewis disappears into the role and brings this historic figure to life.

Political Observers
Mary Todd Lincoln is Abraham's wife. She is considered mad by the people and is very insecure about her relationship with her husband and family. She provides the most antagonism of any character, but remains largely supportive of her husband. What is most surprising is the reasons for her point of view make sense. Impressive for a 'madwoman.' She intersects with all the plotlines of this film and manages to bring something to each of them.

William H. Seward is President Lincoln's Secretary of State. It is his job to pass the 13th amendment. Though he questions the president's decisions, he nonetheless carries out his task with zeal. He appoints three men to do the dirty work for them, which provides much of the comedy in this otherwise weighty film. He is also quick to bring up the possible peace agreement with the Confederacy.

Thaddeus Stevens is the leader of the radical Republicans and is the man who wants to see the bill passed the most. He is also a humorous character, with some fantastic curses and retorts. This humor never overrides the seriousness of his purpose though. His character is treated with an interesting narrative touch, in that we get more of his personal positions than Seward, but see less of him. He is perhaps my favorite character of the film and Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as the principled man who must face his ideals if he hopes for his dream to succeed.

Robert Todd "Bob" Lincoln is Abraham's son who visits from law school. He wants to sign up for the Civil War and argues with both his parents over enlisting. He helps bring the cost of the Civil War to the Lincoln home and creates a great deal of tension in Abraham's marriage. We also get to see the most edge from Abraham's character in scenes with his son. Bob's subplot is perhaps the least important, but makes such great cinema that I'm glad it wasn't cut.

Political Foes
Representatives Fernando Wood and George Pendleton are the chief voice for the opposition to the 13th Amendment. They are pure racists with fiery vitriol for their opponents. They hatch several schemes to shut the whole process down and weed out the 'traitors' in their party.

Civil War Atmosphere
Men fighting like savages, using anything they can to kill one another or piles of uniformed corpses. There are relatively few shots of the Civil War, but all of them are gruesome and cold.  There are also some great shots of everyday life in and around the capital.

In the End
Umm, the amendment passes. Yes, there is way more to it than that.

Lincoln is a film with many threads that treats this famous event with dignity and reverence. This film does not treat its audience like they're idiots, so it might be good to at least know something about the American Civil War before watching. I'd imagine it doesn't play well to foreign audiences, but I love history from any nation, so I could be wrong. If you enjoy historical character pieces or political dramas then this is a movie you cannot miss. I watched it twice in under two days and still would watch it again anytime.

I review Spielberg's earlier films in:

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Transit of Venus ~First Doctor and Ian~

Back to the First Doctor era, but this time we hear a tale from Ian's point of view.

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 
The Transit of Venus (2008) By: Jacqueline Rayner

The Doctor has had enough with Ian and Barbara. He orders them off 'his' ship at the next landing. When they leave the ship, they find themselves on a ship with the crew surrounding them. Believing they're demons, the crew attacks them. The last thing Ian sees is the Tardis being pushed over the side.

I love historicals! Ian and the Doctor are stranded aboard Captain Cook's ship on its way to discover Australia. The look back at history is tarnished only by a few things. Its reliance on the classic series episode The Sensorites could hinder your enjoyment, if you haven't seen it. It also has some plot twists that seem really strange when they occur, but actually make sense by the end.
Our Heroes
Ian Chesterton is a scientist and former science teacher. In his old age, he enjoys recalling his adventures with the Doctor. This audio focuses on his reliance on Barbara for strength and back up. For the first time he must deal with being out of time on his own. In his loneliness, Ian struggles with madness and doubt.

The First Doctor is more a distracted scientist, but he has his own issues to deal with. This story occurs immediately after one of the Doctor's most hot tempered and contemptible moments. As a result, we get to look at why he reacts so grumpily during his early adventures.

Barbara Wright is treated as an almost angelic being. This is a great spotlight on one of the more subtly strong characters in all of science fiction. The fact that this is accomplished with little to no appearance in the story is an awesome feat.

Susan Foreman doesn't appear too much, but does have an indirect impact on the story. She was good with what little she had.

Historic Observers
Captain Cook is a fair and just captain trying to deal with the strange occurrences around him. Despite their initial friendship, his patience is tried as Ian's madness grows worse.

Joseph Banks is the expedition botanist. He seems friendly enough, but he soon quotes Coleridge's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner that won't be written for over thirty years. Ian struggles to determine if Banks was replaced by an alien or if he's another time traveler. He could be almost anything.

High Seas Atmosphere
Listening to this adventure really makes you feel the isolation of being aboard a ship with stops only on interesting but strange isles.

In the End
The end delivers a great explanation of some of the strange quirks of this tale. The insight given into this first cast of characters is really fantastic.

The original crew of the Tardis had the most historical adventures and this returns to that era in fine form. I always love it when the Companion Chronicles use both the strength of this character driven format in addition to the style of a classic tale. This is a must listen to for classic series Doctor Who fans.
Buy it here from Big Finish!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

For Christmas I watched Die Hard, then followed up with Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Live Free or Die Hard. So today, I bring you:

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) is the fifth installment of the Die Hard series. It sparked interest with a teaser poster declaring "Yippie Ki-Yay Mother Russia."

The Russians have an important political prisoner who has dirt on an rising Russian political player. The FBI sends in Jack McClane to try and get him back to the U.S. Believing his son is a delinquent, John McClane gets news of his son being put in prison and decides to go save his son.

It ends up being about terrorists and money, surprise! Yeah, the twists in this film are just stupid. They are either easy to see or completely out of left field or both. This is combined with a paper thin plot (it seriously would take only a few sentences to summarize the whole thing) make this movie dull. However, it does have some good father-son moments that at least bring a little life to the Russian stereotypes and drawn out action scenes.

Our Heroes
John McClane is going to save his son and try to repair their relationship. Bruce Willis actually has some touching scenes that were sadly few and far between. Most of the time he's stuck spouting trying to hard punchlines and one-liners. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Jack McClane is John's son who is a CIA agent. He is clearly an up and coming action star who has a little trouble emoting. He certainly had fun with those fight scenes though.

Komarov is the Russian scientist that Jack McClane must extract to the U.S. Things become less simple as more is revealed and he insists they get his daughter out of the country as well.

Lucy McClane only has a few scenes in this movie and I think that's a shame. She brings a real brightness to the movie and I saw a lot more potential for comedy if she'd been kept around a little longer.

Red Foes
Wacky Dancer Henchman a.k.a. Alik is a quirky henchman who chases Komarov down for his boss. I'll give them credit in making an memorable henchman, though he's still a pretty standard Russian with a few quirks. For some reason he speaks English to another Russian during the initial car chase and through most of the film. I have no idea why. Oh, and he eats carrots...

Psychotic Hot Daughter a.k.a. Irina is Komarov's daughter who's involved in the plot surrounding her father. I don't feel too bad about spoiling this as it is really obvious. Unfortunately, much like hot asian girl from the last movie, she's here for eye candy. However, she does have a great crazy Russian femme fatale vibe going.

Power Mobster a.k.a. Chagarin is an evil member of the Russian government who is in league with criminals.

Moscow Atmosphere
There are several monument shots of Russia and a crowded freeway ends up a kind of a plot point. Unfortunately all the Russians in this movie tend toward the bad 'commie' stereotypes from the cold war.

In the End
It doesn't quite one-up the overblown ridiculousness at the end of Life Free or Die Hard, but it trues so hard. The father-son conversation at the end was cringe-worthy. However, we did get to see Lucy McClane again and I'm always for that. Even if it was rather superficial and pointless.

The first car chase is way too long and it just didn't hold my attention. Oh, and I almost forgot about the radiation neutralization gas... That was... something. Anyway, action fans may enjoy this, but I've nearly forgotten it already.

This movie may have deserved lower, but I really can't hate it. It had me laughing ironically at some of the over the top stunts and terrible dialogue. Not to mention the sheer amount of harm that John once again soaks up in this film. As usual, like its nothing.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Thing 2011 Requel

So, after Who Goes There?, The Thing from Another World and John Carpenter's The Thing, we arrive at the latest installment of The Thing:

The Thing (2011) is part prequel and part remake of the 1982 film, a sort of re-quel, at least that's what DC calls it.

We start on Norwegians in the Antarctic telling a sex joke (you know, to make me think bad aughts horror). Their truck falls into a weak patch of the ice (with effect for 3D) and they see an alien spacecraft. After the title, a Norwegian business man approaches Dr. Kate Lloyd about a mysterious find in Antarctica.

This movie starts off very slowly with a lot of chatter and some dancing. It sets up a few characters, but most of them don't leave too much of an impression. Once the film gets going iit does intorduce an interesting new concept to the Thing mythos. The idea the The Thing cannot copy inorganic matter is a cool one. They find fillings and an arm brace to back up this supposition, but does it hold true?

Our Heroine
Kate Lloyd is a paleontologist who heads out to the promising Antarctica find. She's tough as nails and, I hear, based on Ellen Ripley from Alien. This portrayal actually comes across in the best sense. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate's actress) manages to pull off a tough smart girl who still can get scared. It's a shame she doesn't take better film roles, but she does make this one a bit better through her presence.

Practical effect Thing, Good.
Standout Observer
Ulrich Thomsen is the jerk of a leader of the party. He marks the return of the douche scientist stereotype from The Thing from Another World.

Unlike the account in the 1982 version there are more than 10 people at the base, though I suppose they might not know about the Americans.

CG Thing, Bad.
Shifty CG Foe
The practical effects were cool. but the CG looked like crap. The thing also gets a touch of the stupid whenever it tries to kill our heroine. If it really wants to kill you, it shoots a tentacle through you, but not if you're Kate. It also tends to reveal itself far too easily. The creators decided that since the thing could be made faster with CG, that it should. Unfortunately, faster does not mean scarier. For the most part the Thing is reduced to a bunch of 1997 Starship Troopers-esque bug aliens. For shame.

The weather isn't really shown to be much of a danger. They treat it as even more of a minor nuisance than The Thing from Another World. The space ship was kind of cool to see in side, though it didn't offer much in the way of insight to the Thing or whatever species the Thing stole it from.

In the End
It tries so hard to pull the ending of the 1982 version. It fails. Then during the credits we see the lead up to the start of John Carpenter's version, yay?

The Thing almost entirely changes its pattern from the 'sequel.' Ice damage I guess. It spends most of the film running around as a crazy mishmash monster. CG does not equal scary! It also leaves little time for suspicion, which should the main focus. This film was actually a lot better than I though it'd be, but mostly weak writing and direction ruin its potential. It stands much better when not compared to any of the other versions. Thus I leave it at:

Tomorrow, I take a look at another movie with Mary Elizabeth Winstead: A Good Day to Die Hard.