Posted by: Peter Hall
No one involved with THE THING 2011 understands what the words imitate or replicate mean. There’s a moment where Mary Elizabeth Winstead, supposedly a pre-eminent paleontologist/grad student, and Eric Christian Olsen are staring down a microscope at a part-human, part-alien blood sample. In it they see two objects; a normal, circular blood platelet and what looks like a poorly rendered, undulating ball of spikes. The spike ball cell then approaches one of the platelets, attacks it, wraps itself around it and then changes its spikey shape to look like what it just ate. Meanwhile, these two academics stare at it in disbelief while stammering about how they just watched an alien cell imitate another cell. But that’s not what we the audience just saw happen. There was no copy made. The original was consumed entirely and then replaced.
This may sound like arguing semantics about a fleeting scene, but it’s not just a discrepancy in word choice. This moment is indicative of how glazed over the entire film is. The whole thing reeks of being a studio horror movie that only exists so it can bilk a few bucks out of horror fans who rightfully put John Carpenter’s THE THING on a pedestal. And it’s not because 2011’s THE THING used the word imitate when it meant consumed and replica when it meant replaced, it’s because no one took twenty seconds to say, “Hey, wait a second, shouldn’t it be…”? Not one of the film’s five producers made a note about it. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer obviously wasn’t bothered by it. Winstead and Olsen didn’t turn to the script supervisor and ask if the line made sense. The effects team responsible for rendering the blood cells didn’t bother to actually animate a sequence that showed a cell being copied instead of devoured.
Somehow this easily-fixed piece of poor word choice made it into the final film. Now just think about how inadequately conceived the rest of the film must be if something that minor, something that could have been corrected by a two-sentence conversation, made it into the final cut AND I was withdrawn enough from the movie to notice it.