The problem with sequels - they are often not up to my expectation. Tragic but true. Examples include The Terminator (excellent sequel T2, but let's stop there), Alien, The Exorcist, even Rocky and Rambo. And The Matrix should not be a trilogy. I refuse to acknowledge the existence of AVPs, T3, or other cross over franchise and numerous sequels with insipid ideas. The same problem applies to prequels, most infamously for me are the Episode 1 to 3 Star Wars. The reason I reckoned is because the originals are so well made and done, it shouldn't be tinkered with further. Just leave it alone. Most "victims" of sequels or prequels are often commercially driven and often are from the horror category. Case in point is The Nightmare On Elm Street by Wes Craven. Freddy Krueger is one of the scariest bogeymen on screen in the original. But alas, after a couple of sequels and a tv series, Fred is a joke. And so was the remake. Let's not even get started with the Saw torture porn franchise. There are, however, exceptions. Like The Grudge, The Ring and maybe even REC. I guess the entire storyline of a movie shouldn't just goes on and on forever. And then there's the current trend of remake....ugh.
So when news were announced that they were going to make a prequel of John Carpenter's 1982 cult sci-fi horror classic (which in turn was a remake of the 1951 The Thing from Another World but more faithful in its theme based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell), I was abit apprehensive. The Norwegians were all wiped out right? So what's there to tell? But alas the fan boy part gets better of my logical sense and curiosity also played a big part as to why after closing hours, I told Esther that I wouldn't be back for dinner and were going to USJ Summit GSC to catch Da Thang at 9.10pm last night. I was curious as to how the original alien looks like (or the imitation) which crashed the so 80s space saucer at the bottom of our planet 100,000 years ago. I was curious how the Norwegians discovered it, what they did to it, what da thang did to them, and how it all ended as a Husky hunted by the remaining soon to be dead tragically two surviving Norwegians in a helicopter all the way to McMurdo, the American Antartic research station.
The prequel began three days before the cataclysmic event in the '82 movie. The Norwegians picked up and were homing into a form of signal (Alien?) from nowhere of the super white landscape of Antarctica when the ground gave in onto a chasm which housed a massive UFO. Engaging an American paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and flown to the Norwegian station, Kate realised not only did the Norwegians found a space ship, but also a complete alien specimen fully frozen a few distances away, which was why she was needed in the first place. Again her advice, the Scandinavian boys took a tissue sample from the alien within the block of ice (they managed to crave it out intact) and partied away, perhaps in anticipation of a Nobel Prize, fame and fortune. But soon the ice began to melt and the creature literally jumped out from it (thus explaining why when Mac and Doc saw the block of ice, the center was hollowed out). The Norwegians began to search for it and the killings and assimilations began. Kate pointed out that the creature is a form of parasitic organism capable of digesting and subsequently imitate any of its victims cell structures. She also pointed out that some of them were not who they are supposed to be and paranoia sets in. A winter storm came as predicted. Trapped and nowhere to go, and to flush out the imitated from the real mccoy, Kate checked each of the Norwegians for inorganic material present in them, in particular, teeth fillings. You see, the creature cannot imitate non organic stuff. But some of them did floss as the dentist told them to, so it added to further confusion until one of them began to transform (and subsequently merged with a victim - creating the nicknamed Splitface Thing Mac and Doc found burnt outside the station. I always thought Splitface Thing was an individual). Kate and another guy managed to killed it, but now had the task of going after another imitator who was going to the UFO to kick start it and fly off. In the end, Kate was successful in her task of killing all the imitators and drove off to the Russian research station 50 miles away (why not McMurdo?). A lot of stuffs were explained in the movie - the axe was used to hack a creature which was once an arm of Splitface Thing. The corpse Mac and Doc found sitting with his throat severely cut (almost to the point of decapitation) and slitted wrist was either killed by Lars (one of the last two Norwegians alive and then shot dead by Garry at McMurdo) or performed suicide (noted that the slitted throat depicted was more normal and less severe). Sitting through the credits, it showed Lars and another pilot going after a Husky, thus leading to the opening of the '82 movie. So my verdict for this movie is this - it felt like a remake than a prequel. The sequences, plots were almost familiar to the '82 movie. Two big drawback here which made me feel this movie would probably ends up as one of the average horror movies out there. Firstly, there is an adherent lack of urgency, absence of despair and very little degree of paranoia shown by the characters. The creature is also curiously more "predatory" in which it actively seeks out its victim and even hunts them. In contrast, I prefer the subtle, quiet, when no one's around only the creature will try to assimilate its victim, and unless forced to, only reveal its form, as in the '82 version. Secondly, what I often consider the bane of horror special effect, CGI. The creatures (as well as designs) were no different from most first shooter computer games monster i.e. Doom, Quake. I missed the old tech age of using real, practical materials to construct the creatures. By using CGI, it was somewhat different (unless if it was a really big monsters, like the Cloverfield giant or even 2005 King Kong, then it probably works). The glory of gory was taken out. These two "ingredients" are what made the '82 version endearing to this day. Thus John Carpenter's version still rules.