matthijs-van-heijningen-jr

Actress Mary ElIzabeth Winstead, seen here in her role as “Science Girl” in 2011's The Thing, recently came out with criticism of director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, saying “I don’t think he knows what a scientist does… or even is.” The actress went on to say that van Heijningen Jr’s direction to her mainly consisted of phrases like “Science that microscope,” and “Be a scientist at it.” Winstead recalls that these directions even occurred during scenes when she was exclusively torching CGI aliens with a flamethrower. “I don’t know how a scientist uses a flamethrower differently than, say, a pilot,” she mused. “But apparently there’s a big difference, because Matthijs kept saying that it needed to be more science-y.”

MEMO DATED: 2010

TO: MATTHIJS VAN HEIJNINGEN JR.

SUBJECT: THE THING


LIKE ITS PREDECESSOR, ‘THE THING’ WILL PROVIDE SOME INTERESTING MOMENTS OF SUSPENSE AND WELL THOUGHT OUT TIMING TO KEEP THE VIEWER ON EDGE AS IT KEEPS THEM GUESSING. THE INEVITABLE DOWNFALL WILL BE IN THE COMPUTER-GENERATED IMAGERY, WHICH (for such a reasonably sized budget feature as this) WILL NOT MEET THE STANDARD AND LOOK UNREALISTIC DUE TO AN UNEVEN COMPOSITE.

REGARDLESS OF THIS IT ENTERTAINS, AND A FINE ENDING WILL LEAVE THE AUDIENCE INTRIGUED.

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Visual Comparative Essay

Part 1

The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982), The Thing (Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, 2011).

The 2011 prequel simultaneously sets up many of the iconic moments of 1982’s The Thing, and pays homage to several key moments, plot developments and visual cues of the original.

This decision is interesting as it puts The Thing (2011) in a strange position. Though canonically it is very much a prequel, the approach taken is very much a reboot.

It is not an accident that all hell breaks loose in the recreation room, nor is the fact that both films feature a gruff, bearded American helicopter pilot.

The reboot label has more sticking power given that it was simply title “The Thing”, not “The Thing: The Beginning” or “Before The Thing”. Clearly the use of the same name, similar music and direct homages was to capitalise on the cult status of the original, while also providing backstory to what happened on that Norwegian base.

But there is also a deeper metaphor, that this movie is a copy of the original but a wholly different creature, not unlike the alien creature from the films itself.

This is not just superficial, the original begins as a paranoid thriller, with team members turning on each other trying to find who among them is no longer human.

In the 2011 movie, the film only skims over paranoia and remains largely a monster movie. Again, this may just be a choice but it also makes canonical sense too; that the creature is taking a more clandestine approach in the American base due to experience.

Like a lot of film analysis, the question of how much of this is conjecture instead of directorial intent could be an issue, but as is the approach of this blog, the discussions are the goal and teasing apart these questions the aim.

WATCH: The Thing trailer

The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter’s supposed horror classic (sorry, not a fan) of the very same name. Carpenter’s Thing was itself a remake of a film from 1951. Slightly confused yet? Matthijs van Heijningen Jr’s version, due out in October and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World), Joel Edgerton (Star Wars Episode III, Animal Kingdom) and Eric Christian Olsen (Community), looks like an engrossing thriller. Yes, it does look a lot like Carpenter’s version albeit a glossy reboot, but the story takes place three days before the original, when a crew based in Norway discover an alien spacecraft containing a supposedly deceased extraterrestrial. You can pretty much guess where it heads from there.

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The Thing (2011) - Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

The Cast Includes:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate
Joel Edgerton as Sam Carter
Ulrich Thomsen as Sander Halvorson

Eric Christian Olsen as Adam Finch
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Derek Jameson
Paul Braunstein as Griggs
Trond Espen Seim as Edvard Wolner
Kim Bubbs as Juliette
Jan Gunnar Røise as Olav
Stig Henrik Hoff as Peder
Kristofer Hivju as Jonas
Jonathan Walker as Colin

All cast pictures here: