Joel Edgerton

The Thing (2011, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.)

The big problem with The Thing, besides it being pointless (though it needn’t be), is its stupidty. While van Heijningen is a perfectly mediocre director, he doesn’t know how to add mood or make something disturbing. Some of it probably isn’t his fault… I can’t see him caring about the addition of Eric Christian Olsen’s third wheel in the romantic chemistry between Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton, for example. It’s just the filmmakers in general. They aren’t bright.

For example, who casted Olsen as a smart guy in the first place? He’s clearly not smart. Poor Winstead and Edgerton try–and Winstead can sell the scientist pretty well–but they’re stuck in a terrible cast. Ulrich Thomsen’s mad scientist belongs in a Roger Corman knockoff.

The filmmakers seem to understand they shouldn’t be telling the story of some Norwegians in English, but whenever the Norwegians panic, they speak English. That detail seems somewhat nonsensical.

If The Thing were a traditional sequel or prequel (i.e. coming within ten years of the original), it might concern developing the original’s mythology. But coming almost thirty years later, with zero participation from the original filmmakers, it’s not… it’s a potential (and thankfully failed) franchise starter.

It could have been neat though, since it’s essentially a remake of the original Thing from Another World in terms of plot. Sadly, it’s not neat. It’s terrible and cheap.

Eric Heisserer’s script is asinine.

Watching it, I just felt bad for Winstead. She’s too classy for it.



Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.; screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on a story by John W. Campbell Jr.; director of photography, Michel Abramowicz; edited by Peter Boyle, Julian Clarke and Jono Griffith; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Sean Haworth; produced by Marc Abraham and Eric Newman; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate Lloyd), Joel Edgerton (Sam Carter), Ulrich Thomsen (Dr. Sander Halvorson), Eric Christian Olsen (Adam Finch), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Derek Jameson), Paul Braunstein (Griggs), Trond Espen Seim (Edvard Wolner), Kim Bubbs (Juliette), Jørgen Langhelle (Lars), Jan Gunnar Røise (Olav), Stig Henrik Hoff (Peder), Kristofer Hivju (Jonas), Jo Adrian Haavind (Henrik), Carsten Bjørnlund (Karl), Jonathan Walker (Colin) and Ole Martin Aune Nilsen (Matias).

Erskineville Kings (1999, Alan White)

Okay, so Marty Denniss is a playwright. Erskineville Kings makes some more sense. Not a lot more sense, but some. It’s a peculiar picture, a human drama with a lot of dialogue–it’s set over a day–and it’s all in a few indoor locations. But Denniss, the writer, emphasizes himself, the actor, as the protagonist, when he’s really quite boring. Denniss’s character only works because Denniss is such a mediocre actor. He delivers his lines naturally, but the guy comes off like a complete idiot. He’s a dullard, which is interesting, because he’s supposedly the smart brother (as opposed to Hugh Jackman’s macho man).

It’s a problematic film–White loves color, which is great and the picture’s vibrant and compelling to look at it–but there are all these strange walking sequences, apparently included to get the running time over eighty minutes. They should have left them out and embraced Kings as an extended short subject.

The walking scenes, around the desolate, empty town, would mean something if Erskineville was a real place. But it isn’t–and Denniss, the writer, doesn’t do any work to make the viewer care about this down on its luck small city.

Jackman’s performance is incredible; the film succeeds because of him. It’s not even a leading man performance, as Denniss poorly gives himself that role.

The supporting cast, Andrew Wholley, Aaron Blabey and Joel Edgerton, is excellent.

Denniss’s script has some great dialogue and is paced well. It’s the concept, not the execution.



Directed by Alan White; written by Marty Denniss; director of photography, John Swaffield; edited by Jane Moran; music by Don Miller-Robinson; production designer, Andrew Horne; produced by Julio Caro and White; released by Palace Films.

Starring Marty Denniss (Barky), Hugh Jackman (Wace), Andrew Wholley (Coppa), Aaron Blabey (Tunny), Joel Edgerton (Wayne), Leah Vandenberg (Lanny), Marin Mimica (Kane), Lauren Clair (Ruby), Louise Birgan (Natasha) and Roy Billing as the ticket officer.

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