Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
Bloody Disgusting beat the trades to the punch two weeks ago but this morning the upcoming The Thing prequel-remake has been thrust into the web-weary gaze of the crusty and blog-fearing by getting a story in Daily Variety (though even they ran it first on the web, last night).
After agreeing that Matthijs Van Hejningen has been appointed as director and that Ronald D. Moore’s screenplay for a “Norwegian camp prequel” will be used, Variety don’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know so I’ll instead go back to Bloody Disgusting for the quote meat.
“The prequel takes place from the Norwegian camps point of view. An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog.
During the night, the dog mutates and attacks other dogs in the cage and members of the team that investigate. The team soon realize that an alien life-form with the ability to take over bodies is on the loose and they don’t know who may already have been taken over.”
“Van Heijningen is pushing to make the lead character none other than R.J Macready’s brother!”
The internets are divided. Some think this will likely be a good film – Moore, after all, has won himself legions of fans with Battlestar Galactica. Some think this will likely be a bad film – John Carpenter’s first remake is so cherished, particularly by the generation of geeks currently controlling the most WordPress and Blogger dashboards worldwide, and the original Christian-Nyby Howard Hawks adaptation is deeply beloved too.
From a wee browse about, the second division do seem to be somewhat stronger in number.
So which will it be? My personal prediction is that it will, in fact, be a good film. Possibly not as good as either of the previous two incarnations, but a rather good film all the same.
I’ve seen a decent sized handful of Matthijs Van Hejningen’s commercials, and he’s clearly very talented. Without putting too fine a point on it and instead relying on a blunt cliche, he knows how to use the camera to tell a story. He definitely knows how to get shots that are suitably inflected but don’t draw attention to their inflection – which marks him out as a rare thing in the ranks of commercial directors… and, actually, you know what? I don’t really care what film he’s making, I’m just glad he’s making one.
On the down side? Well, the practical effects in Carpenter’s film are almost certainly unbeatable; the “brother” rumour seems just plain silly; mounting a prequel that actually seems certain to replicate many events of the original story sounds like an unnecessary wriggle to avoid the term “remake”; I’m mainly familiar with Ronald D. Moore via his Star Trek work and… well, I didn’t really like it.
Don’t crucify me (yet): I’m waiting for a good Battlestar DVD opportunity to arise, then I’ll leap right in from the beginning. If you care that much about me not having seen the show, then feel free and buy me the discs. Right. Okay. I knew you didn’t really mind.
Matthijs Van Hejningen is also attached to direct Army of the Dead, a Zack Snyder-conceived and reputedly epic undead-actioner set around a zombie swamped Las Vegas. Maybe the most disappointing thing for me (ahem) is that this potentially very interesting film will now be derailed and, as is always possible in such cases, prevented from ever coming to light. Gotta love them zombies.
Oh – and for the record, I absolutely love Carpenter’s film and even use it in class a fair bit, and while the first film isn’t a favourite of mine, per se, I do enjoy it greatly.