NYCC: The Thing Shows Off The Alien, The Snow, The Practical Effects
Probably today's most anticipated panel at New York Comic Con was Universal's presentation for The Thing, the prequel to John Carpenter's horror classic that had many fans up in arms the moment the film was announced. While they had nearly all the movie's stars on hand for the panel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead is getting married today, so she had a good excuse to miss out) the main attraction was definitely the film's first trailer, which they showed up on the big screen.
The trailer starts off in New York, of all places, where Winstead's tough scientist character Kate Lloyd is convinced by Eric Christian Olsen's character to join a Norwegian research expedition in Antarctica that has discovered an entirely new creature… you might call it a Thing. While they're initially patting themselves on the back for finding something brand-new-- "You will all be immortalized as the people who made this discovery" we hear in voiceover-- as the trailer flashes between the drill boring down into the ice and scenes of destruction from later in the movie, we know it's not going to turn out as a happy scientific discovery. As the title tells us: "In a place where there is nothing, they found someTHING."
It's hard to gauge too much of the film based on what we saw, since it was mostly short glimpses of snowy action sequences with very little dialogue to go along with it, and plenty of screaming and explosions. And though director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. promised that we will see The Thing in its "pure" alien form in the film, we saw only glimpses of it in the trailer-- a Venus flytrap-like maw opening, pink tentacles waving threateningly, a dark shape dropping back from the background. The fact that we were able to see the aliens at all, though, speak to the production's commitment to using practical effects-- the film is many, many months away from release, and yet many of those shots looked finished because they're not supplemented with CGI.
As you may know from reading our extensive reporting from the set of The Thing, they've been meticulous in linking up the two films, echoing certain elements glimpsed in the original The Thing and making sure the transition between their film and Carpenter's would be seamless for anyone watching them back to back. Producer Eric Newman described the process of trying to make the two films link so well:
"We decided to try and find the pieces in the Carpenter film that we would ultimately have to make match up with our picture. That became the puzzle, became the script. Reverse engineering, there's a lot of clues in that station [in the original film], and that's how we worked our way back with the writers."
Everyone on the panel, from the director to the assembled cast, spoke effusively about their affection for the original film; van Heijningen Jr. joked that, as a European, he always watched the original film and wondered what happened to the Norwegian crew, "these poor bastards." Actor Ulrich Thomsen, who plays a scientist/biologist he describes as "kind of a bad guy," said he watched the original The Thing on TV so much as a child he thought it was a German movie.
The Q&A, as expected, consisted of a lot of hardcore The Thing nerds making sure the team knew their stuff; some picked up on hints of the original movie's score, which the director confirmed will be echoed in the music for the new film, and the producers noted that as a prequel, the film is set in 1982, which means bad hair and no cell phones. Based on the well-cut trailer, which showed just enough of the alien to get everyone excited but not too much to give it all the way, the Comic Con crowd seemed pretty satisfied that these guys hadn't just stepped in to ruin Carpenter's original, but actually had a new direction to take the classic, mysterious monster known only as The Thing.
I also talked to the cast and filmmakers behind the film after the panel, so you can check back tomorrow for more from van Hejingen Jr., producers Newman and Marc Abraham, and stars Joel Edgerton, Erik Christian Olsen and Thomsen. And for more coverage from New York Comic Con overall, click here.
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