Postmortem: The Thing (2011)

With John Carpenter’s The Thing–based on Christian Nyby’s 1951 movie The Thing From Another World and the original John Campbell short novel, Who Goes There?–we got to see a director at the peak of his powers.  Carpenter was able to combine Rob Bottin’s extraordinary creature effects with a taut story of an otherworldly threat that had the ability to mimic whomever it killed.

So you can imagine that when Universal Pictures decided to do a sequel in 2011–without Carpenter’s input–that fans would probably not be too keen on it.

And that’s a bit of an understatement, with many–myself included–hating the movie on general principal.

Having recently re-watched Matthijs van Heijningen’s prequel, it’s actually pretty good.  And while I wished that it had more in the way of practical effects–though as far as I can tell the CGI is based on designs from Alec Gillis and Bob Woodruff (who are credited) and while it’s not as innovative as the practical special effects of Rob Bottin, They’re okay.

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Late Phases – Review

“Late Phases Is An Interesting Diversion, Though Hardly The Best The Werewolf Genre has To Offer.”

When all is said and done, what separates great werewolf movies from also-rans is the quality of the titular beast itself, which unfortunately isn’t Late Phases strongest point.  The aforementioned monsters here look less like wolves than large hairy gnomes, which is interesting–and a little bit odd–because it’s not like research material–wolves–can’t be found in zoos or on the Internet.

In nature they’re beautiful, powerful creatures (and significantly larger than you’d think) that are in their way quite graceful.

The closest filmmakers have come to capturing the innate grace and power of the animals has been in movies like Dog Soldiers (where director Neil Marshall actually had them played by dancers, in an effort to give them a certain elegance of movement) and Joe Dante’s The Howling.

In John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, while it had groundbreaking practical effects by FX virtuoso Rick Baker, the creature itself was more bear-like than wolf (which had a lot to do with how bulky it was.  Wolves aren’t massive in that sense, and they move with an ease that Landis’ monster lacked).

Where Late Phases does shine is in its depiction of relationships, in particular, those between fathers and sons.  Nick Damici does well as Ambrose, a soldier who’s blinded in combat, and whom can’t seem to put the war, the Vietnam War, behind him.

Ethan Embry holds his own as his son, Will, who’s doing the best he can for his father, though the tension between the two is always bubbling beneath the surface.

Damici plays blind well, though something’s a bit off about his performance.  Part of it is that he really looks like Charles Bronson, which is distracting.

Another is that he seems always tense, as if his sense of peace went along with his vision.

As I implied, the movie is for the most part petty well-done, though it’s at it’s weakest when the werewolves make their appearance.

Which is a pity, since it is after all a werewolf movie.

Late Phases is currently stalking on Netflix.