August 22nd, 2011

breaking bad

The Thing Prequel

They are making prequels to The Thing and Alien, and Blade Runner, which are my favourite SF films. I adore all three, and have since the first time I saw them. Each one blew me away. Obviously I feel very dubious about what these prequels will mean. Will they sully the live hosts that they latch onto?

Here is the trailer for The Thing which is due out this autumn. It is set in the Norwegian Camp, and I'll be honest - it looks pretty good. It looks like a competent and authentic extension of the original film. Not a degrading of the concept.

But now I think about it: in this new film I see much less variation in the physical type of the men, who are (nearly*) all stocky blond bearded thirty-somethings. Also there's a lone woman* - gimmick or inclusion? I don't know how those two differences will change the dynamic. A crucial theme of the original film was the diverse individuality of the crew, trapped within a contained setting, and the conflict between different types who at times barely tolerated each other. The human granularity of community, in contrast to the viscid alien homogeneity of The Thing. Will this theme be lost in favour of monster-shooting? Now I am talking myself out of enjoying the prequel. I must wait and see.

Perhaps the relative physical homogeneity I see in the trailer is an authentic representation of a Norwegian antarctic camp in the early 1980s, and a wide range of lively personalities will be vividly embodied by a clever script. I worry that an American production company might see 'Norwegian' as a type, with a number of iterations, if i can put it like that, rather than massively diverse individuals in their own right.

Anyway, talking about clever script, here is a YouTube analysis of the abiding question over the ending of the Carpenter film- is Childs infected?

Part one (12 mins)
Part two (5 mins)

The ending is ambiguous: has humanity defeated the invasion, or is one of the men a hidden alien? Here is a lengthy metafilter discussion of the issue.

Rant mode ON - I think that Hollywood studios are stupid to churn out vapid spectacle film which gross quick and fizzle out, and don't stand rewatch let alone analysis. Oh, how annoyed I am about how they waste SF opportunities nowadays. It would be relatively easy to give a film like Cowboys and Aliens a core narrative authenticity - because I am sure there are story telling geniuses out there asking to be hired. The young audience who want to see spaceships go boom would still go to the film, if it had a proper grown up storyline, plus it would have a thirty-year money-generating lifespan. Why not do it?

* ETA - on rewatching I see a second woman, and a black guy, but the blond-and-beardy ratio is high.