Plot: What’s it about?
At a research station deep in the Arctic, a helicopter arrives with a hail of bullets, as those inside try to gun down a target as it flees. The target isn’t a terrorist or even human, but a dog. When the chopper crashes, both men inside are killed, but the dog survives and is taken into the station. The team inside the station decides to get some answers about the unusual situation, so they venture to another nearby station, where the helicopter was from. As led by R.J. “Mac” MacReady (Kurt Russell), the team discovers the station in ruins, as well as a strange corpse of some kind. The corpse has human elements, but also an unknown presence, which is soon learned to be some kind of shape shifting creature. As the crew tries to survive, they must try to work together, but remain vigilant, as the beast could be anyone, even themselves…
John Carpenter’s The Thing was buried under the tidal wave of E.T.’s success, but as the years passed, it built an audience and became a force on home video. Which is great, because The Thing is an awesome movie, with the kind of tension and dread you rarely see in motion pictures. The Thing is just dripping with impending doom and the sense of paranoia is palpable, it is almost impossible not to be engaged from start to finish. Not to mention the special effects, which were impressive then and remain mostly effective even now. The violence is rather tame compared to more recent fare, but the bloodshed here has context and means more, which makes it all the more potent. Kurt Russell’s performance is solid, as is the rest of the cast, while Carpenter’s tight direction keeps the suspense thick and the atmosphere bleak. I think The Thing is a terrific movie and should be seen by anyone with an interest in cinema, especially in this high definition release. I am sad to see some of the extras go, but this is the best looking & sounding version you’ll find.
Video: How does it look?
The Thing is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is the same transfer from the HD-DVD release, but that is fine, as the movie looks excellent here. The print has some minor concerns, but looks clean enough, while detail is strong and even has that wonderful three dimensional presence at times. The colors are dynamic as well, with hues that stand out and really help give the visuals extra punch. I found contrast to be remarkable, both in the darker shadows and in the bright whites, which is no simple feat to be sure. So while this is the same transfer as before, but the movie still looks fantastic, so no complaints.
Audio: How does it sound?
A new DTS HD 5.1 option adds a little spice to the soundtrack, but the jump isn’t that impressive. The surround use is not that frequent and even then, not memorable. This is due to the limits of the sound design however, as the soundtrack does what it can, but can only do so much. I’d rather have this than a track filled with forced, unnatural surround presence. So while not that active, this is an accurate, faithful representation. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Well, this sucks. While the audio comments from John Carpenter and Kurt Russell remain, the rest of the extras have been dropped. The excellent documentary Terror Takes Shape is still here also, but only in partial form and only as part of the U-Control picture in picture mode. So most of that piece can still be seen, but I would rather have it intact and alongside the rest of the extras, but Universal denies the fans on this one.