Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Thing From Another World

The Thing is a classic sci-fi movie about killer aliens and brains vs brawn.  An air force team led by Hendry is sent to Alaska to investigate a strange anomaly in the ice.  The meet up with some scientists at a base and set off to find the disturbance.  They eventually find an intact spaceship buried in the ice, and while attempting to recover it, accidentally destroy it.  However, they recover a frozen alien body from the craft and return it to the base.  One of the scientists, Carington, suggests that they thaw the alien out and research it.  Hendry would rather follow his orders and keep it frozen.  During the night, a guard accidentally puts a heated blanket on the alien and it thaws out and escapes.   The alien kills some people, and the scientists cover up evidence of an attack by the alien.  He takes some blood and body parts from the alien back to a lab to do an experiment, all without Hendry's knowledge.  Hendry and company attempt to kill the alien in multiple ways, but all of them fail.  Eventually, someone has the idea of electrocuting it.  They all rig wires and electricity to the hallway floor, and after restarting the generators, lure the alien out to the hallway.  Carrington, still thinking that he deserves to study the alien, attempts to communicate with it but is thrown away.  The alien steps on the floor and is promptly electrocuted.  Hendry reports back to his the camp reporter warns the listeners to "watch the skies."
     The Thing employs all the sci-fi tropes that would soon become commonplace in the genre.  Aliens, spaceships, a not-so-bad guy secretly working for the other side, and the mcguyver solution to the big problem.  The acting and dialogue is surprisingly good in this film, given its age and effects capabilities.  The way the alien was defeated was totally believable, contrary to movies like Them! where the military explores the entire underground Los Angeles in a matter of hours to find the ants.  The simplicity of electrocuting the alien was much more enjoyable than if it was to die another way, like from a flame thrower or some other mcguyver device.  The Thing also has a subplot of military power versus science and reason.  In this case, the military are the level headed, reasonable ones.  In other movies, the military is made out to look like the bad guys, choosing bombs and guns over a more humane or less destructive solution.  Here, however, Carington's plan is ill thought out and dangerous to not just the camp, but the rest of the world.  Hendry's solution is the only realistic one if he wanted to contain the situation and prevent any more deaths.  Although this conflict isn't as blatant as say The Day the Earth Stood Still, it does highlight a theme that would be used by many more sci-fi films in the future.

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