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'The Thing' remake is a little too close to the original but still entertaining

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(Read caption) 'The Thing' star Mary Elizabeth Winstead arrives at the premiere in Los Angeles.

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Much like the titular alien creature, this 2011 version of The Thing purports itself to be one thing, when it is in fact something else. While it is labeled as the prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 film of the same name, in many ways – largely as a result of some derivative scriptwriting – this film is a beat-for-beat remake of Carpenter’s film, only with far less imagination and a forgone outcome.

Thankfully, the combined strength of the premise and an effectively scary monster save The Thing 2011 from being a total waste.

The story takes us back to 1982 Antarctica, where paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has been recruited to help excavate the monumental discovery of an alien life form frozen within the tundra. Kate is trepidatious about messing with the fossil too much, but the team of Norwegian scientists – led by the cold Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) – want the glory and credit for making the discovery. Halvorson has his men drill into the ice to collect a tissue sample, and in doing so, awakens the long-dormant creature.

Things go from bad to worse as Kate makes a startling discovery: the alien is a mimic, able to copy its prey’s cells, thereby camouflaging itself in the skin of its victims. However, by the time Kate realizes that there are impostors in their midst, fear and paranoia have already begun to run rampant amongst the team, leading to the decimation of the camp, and the beginning of the mayhem depicted in Carpenter’s film.

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