Friday, March 11, 2016

Johnocrypha #4: The 2011 Thing Prequel

Download MP3

A huge thank you to Julie for joining us once again. Check out her fan comic Snowflame.

This episode discusses The Thing (2011). IMDb. Wikipedia.

As well as the first season of Helix (2014). IMDb. Wikipedia.

And Harbinger Down (2015). IMDb. Wikipedia.

Our theme music is "Black Rainbow" by Jak Locke.

Check out banner artist Benjamin J's DeviantArt page.


Tim Luz said...

Great episode.

Despite the flaws you pointed out, most of which I really can't disagree with you on (the continuity-phile in me really goes nuts over the fate of the saucer), I still really enjoy this movie for two reasons:

One is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I really like that with the character of Kate, they don't go overboard as many do when trying to emulate Ripley or Sarah Connor by making her "tough." As the situation goes bad, she remains the scientist we first meet, attempting to work out a solution to the problem through logic and forced to step forward as a leader very reluctantly.

The other one, and this is where I confess I might be reaching a bit, is how van Heijningen uses the concept of The Thing to explore geopolitical relationships. It's a bit of a standard interpretation to make these days, but you could see this story as a 9/11 metaphor: characters of different nations facing a terrifying enemy that can blend in among them and strike without warning, with disagreement about the nature of the threat and how to deal with it.

We see numerous instances of characters being divided by nationalistic and linguistic differences. Note Sanders' attempts to subvert Kate's assumed command by talking to the men in Norwegian right in front of her or how once Sam and Derek return to the camp after the crash, they are continually referred to collectively as "the Americans." And how once they get free, they clumsily attempt to take charge without knowing what's going on, getting people killed in the process, perhaps an international view of American policy in the Middle East following the attacks?

On the other side, Kate and Lars' relationship serves as a model for how it should work. Despite their cultural and linguistic barriers, the two have trust and work together.

Van Heijningen even manages to tie this theme into the original. We know what's going to happen to Lars once he reaches the American camp and that he won't be able to get his warning across due once again to the language barrier.

Anyway, great episode and I look forward to checking out Harbinger Down, if only because I'm a Henriksen fan.

NoelCT said...

Excellent points, Tim, and those are definitely elements I enjoyed in the film. My problem is still that, while those moments are good, they don't feel fully developed and are coming from characters who are also underdeveloped. I love the taste they add, but they were more a garnish than part of a full meal, if that makes sense. The Lars/Kate relationship is especially wonderful, for all the reasons you mention, but while I love the gut-punch of the ending and how Van Heijningen succeeds in giving it a new emotional weight, there's a large chunk of the film where Lars just straight up disappears, and his lack of involvement in the third act feels like a real missed opportunity to further bring all those dynamics and themes to a head, with all the secondary focus instead shifting to Sam, who didn't feel like he needed to be as large a part of things as he ended up being. Heck, imagine that final snowcat scene, but instead between Lars and Kate. They stood together, figured out solutions together, fought and survived together. And he suddenly discovers she's been turned. Him going into the opening of the 82 film from that instead of having a survivor who makes it out would perfectly line up with the bleak edge of the original's ending.

Again, not a film I dislike, but definitely one I wish they could have stewed on for a few more drafts. I'd still love to read the original Ronald D. Moore script some day. Alas, it continues to elude me.

I hope you enjoy Harbinger Down. It'll probably play better going in with some measured expectations than purely cold. Let me know it turns out for you.

And I hope you enjoy the next bonus episode I'll have up soon. It covers something you brought up in your own Thing episode, Tim. :)