I saw The Thing a few weeks ago, so my memory of the movie is not as fresh as I would like it to be, but I felt a short review of the movie was still justified. From what I saw, there were more mumblings about the disappointment that The Thing was being remade than excitement for its release. That sentiment is fine and fair, but we should clarify now that it is not a remake, but rather a prequel to John Carpenterís 1982 original.
The movie stars budding starlet Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who I happen to be a fan of. Itís good to see her getting out there and getting more roles. It seemed like the production of Scott Pilgrim mightíve delayed her upcoming as the making of that movie took longer than expected. Winstead plays paleontologist Kate Lloyd in the film who is a powerful female lead character that isnít sexualized or bullied by her male counterparts. Iíve heard people call the character of Kate Lloyd the second coming of Ripley from Alien. Iím inclined to believe this aspect of the character appealed to Winstead as she, at least from interviews, seems to be an intelligent and articulate individual who isnít just looking to take the easy way to the top of Hollywood. In the movie, Lloyd is recruited to work at a base located in Antarctica where they have discovered a frozen item that could change the history of the world. Things begin to become complicated at the base when protocols are ignored due to swelling personalities and the desire to be immortalized in the history books. One of the superiors of the operation takes a risky path despite Lloydís pleas and chaos and paranoia ensues.
I must say that the prequel probably is not as good as the original. Itís been a while since Iíve viewed the original, but if my memory serves me correctly, the original did a better job with character development. The level and density of paranoia in the original also seemed to be greater, but this could just be due to my younger age and my horror movie phase I went through when I watched the original. During the marketing of The Thing, the cast continuously harped on how the level of paranoia and psychological stress is immense, and although the movie does a great job showing the trust issues the discovery team goes through, itís not as big of a factor to the audience as I would have liked. Another element the cast and crew kept boasting about was how the 2011 movie worked hard to tie into the original film. Although they do accomplish this, I felt like this element was a bit exaggerated.
The Thing was a decent movie, but I canít recommend it to everyone. If you went through a horror movie phase with your buddies in high school because horror movies are sometimes the best comedy movies, then this will be a good rental for you and your pals. If youíre a big fan of the original movie, and you would love to relive an updated version of The Thing, it is worth a watch. Otherwise, just rent it on a night you have nothing else to do.
Troll Hunter has to be one of the most unique films of last year. For some odd reason, when I tell people I recently watched Troll Hunter, Iím always asked, ďOh, whatís it about?Ē A very fair question, but the movie is what the title says. It is about a troll hunter. The movie was released on October 29th of 2010, and got an American release on June 10th of 2011. The movie opened to mostly positive reviews.
The Norwegian film was filmed in Western Norway where it takes place in the movie. The movie was directed by Andrť ōvredal featuring mostly lesser known actors. The film team chose to go keep the movie under the radar and attempted the viral marketing strategy. The Nordic location provided for some stunning scenery in the movie. Troll Hunter is a mockumentary employing the handheld first person camera work. So think Blair Witch Project or Quarantinein Norway and with giant trolls. The lighting in the film is exceptional, especially in the low light scenes. Using the moon as the motivator, the lighting and photography crew does a wonderful job creating accurate shadows and deep contrast. Another cinematic element they did a great job with was incorporating was the rain, mist, and the fog that rolls against the hills. The crew lit the mist extremely well to make the mist pop and have great depth (not an easy task!), allowing the audience to feel the setting more vividly. The movie also did a great job with little touches to give it a more authentic feel and to make it seem like the footage was actually found and raw. One example is when the hunter and the in movie film crew (remember, this is a mockumentary) are grabbing breakfast and we see the in movie film crew white balancing. This might go unnoticed to most, but to someone who has film experience it is a great touch. The next example would seem obvious, but other first person films often missed with this one. There is a moment in the film where the camera operator is picked up by a troll and drops the camera. Letís arbitrarily say the camera fell 8 feet. We then see the lens is cracked. Out of all the first person films Iíve seen, this might be the first with a destructible lens. The exact opposite happened in Quarantine when the camera man viciously defends himself against a zombie with blunt camera blows. Destructible lenses are not always a given.
I wonít go too much into the story of the movie as to not ruin it. As mentioned above, the movie is about a troll hunter, and thatís the only introduction the movie needs. It might be the only introduction anyone can give. A couple of interesting discussions the movie brings up are the discussions on religion and animal rights. We can see that religion might be a big topic just from the trailer where Christianity and Islam are both raised. As an American, it is fascinating to see a Scandinavian slant on religion. The trolls are attracted to the scent of Christian blood, so before the troll hunter allows the film crew to shadow him, he probes the crew on their religious beliefs. The members all deny any affiliation with Jesus Christ. We find out later that one of the members of the film team is actually a closet Christian. It makes sense that he would hide the fact that he is Christian in a country where, in 2005, only 32% of the population believed in a god. This was extremely interesting as atheists are often bullied in America and seeing the roles reversed was quite refreshing. Animals rights, or perhaps better phrased as creature rights in this film are also observed. We see the team sympathize for sheep when they are used as bait to lure the trolls. We also see in one of the interviews with the hunter that he might also have sympathy for the trolls.
I recommend this film to everyone because of how unique and well made it is. I fully understand that Americans tend to be turned off by subtitles, but itís time we mature and venture into a wider variety of cinema. Especially when there is a movie of this grade is waiting to be viewed.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not very fond of these huge summer blockbuster films. I just don't think you can substitute a solid story and a well thought out production with a couple of massive explosions and falling buildings and hope for a good movie. Apparently no one really gives a shit what I think because summer movies have made a boat load of money. This disconnect I have with ďwhat is popularĒ was demonstrated even further during the previews. I could hear the chatter and buzz around me after the ďThe Dark Knight RisesĒ trailer finished. But the buzz after the ďPrometheusĒ trailer wasnít nearly as present. I think people get sucked into hype way too easily. With that in mind, I donít doubt that the new Batman has the potential to be a very special film, I just think the general reaction is exaggerated.
ďThe AvengersĒ, however, did not disappoint. The movie didnít change my life or anything, but it didnít put me to sleep like Transformers 2 or Sherlock Holmes did. I thought Whedonís humor came through very well at perfectly timed moments. The ensemble cast did justice as well. Whedon and team did a very good job making sure each character was distinct and their abilities obvious. The Avengers did what Japanese anime has been doing for years, except in English and with American spin. You can watch any Japanese anime that concerns itself with a group of heroes with power levels and character development and you can see parallels with The Avengers.
The Avengers gives us what we expect from a summer family movie. The movie could even give Michael Bay a boner. Iím still not sure I buy into the 3D movement, but this movie might be worth seeing once in 3D and once in 2D.