Sunday Short Reviews


Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The Muppets
This film is the perfect Muppet movie. It may be missing the charms and talents of Frank Oz and Jim Henson, the two key players who made the Muppets what they are, but besides that minor quibble, this movie is nothing short of terrific. The Muppets are still their upbeat, whimsical selves, even when they’ve been updated for a modern age, and it warms the heart and puts a big ol’ smile on the face to see everyone’s favourite puppets up to their old tricks again. Writers Jason Segel and Nick Stoller have done a masterful job of crafting a Muppet movie in the old style, going right back to the first Muppet movie by giving us a “get the gang back together to put on a show” storyline that’s a welcome reprieve from the Muppet-filtered adaptations of classic stories like Treasure Island. Not that there’s anything wrong with Muppet Treasure Island, of course, but it’s great to see the Muppets playing out a tale like the plots of their early and most cherished movies. The songs are sweet and catchy, the humour is top-notch, and you’ll marvel at how full of life the puppets are, considering they’re little more than felt, googly eyes, fake fur and foam. You’ll leave the theatre feeling great after watching The Muppets. It’s the feel-good movie of 2011, and I hope it ushers in a long-awaited Muppet revival.
4.5 out of 5

The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter’s take on the Howard Hawks classic The Thing From Another World is a brilliant exercise in less-is-more filmmaking. When an Antarctic research station is invaded by an alien being that can assume the form and mannerisms of humans, suddenly no one is safe and nothing is as it seems. Carpenter employs some terrific screenwriting techniques to keep the audience guessing as to which characters are actually aliens throughout the movie, and the paranoia and tension are so thick you could cut them with a knife. Speaking of cutting, one of the most tense scenes in the film – the infamous thumb-cutting scene – deserves special mention as one of the most cringe-inducing, edge-of-your-seat scenes of all time. The Thing is a movie that proves you don’t need CGI to create effective monsters, and I hold the practical effects work in this movie up as some of the best in cinema history. A classic horror movie that may well be impossible to match.
5 out of 5

The Thing (2011)
I was surprised at how much I liked the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (itself confusingly called The Thing), but perhaps I shouldn’t have been, because the plot of the prequel is essentially the same as Carpenter’s film, which speaks to just how effective Carpenter’s script is. While the prequel film may be a bit oversaturated in CGI, the creature effects are still cool, creepy and chilling, and although the special effects are much more in-your-face, I was nevertheless kept guessing as to who the alien had taken over. It’s rare that a prequel actually surprises me – often I know exactly where the plot is going – and for that, I have to give the 2011 The Thing serious props. It doesn’t hold a torch to Carpenter’s 1982 film, but it’s really solid and enjoyable, makes a good companion piece to its 1982 sequel, and will hopefully lead more people to look into Carpenter’s awesome movie. It’s also rare that a prequel to a classic movie, especially one that’s 20 years old, actually works, but this one does. Fans of Carpenter’s film won’t be offended (except for maybe the really puritanical ones), and people new to the story of The Thing will get a decent re-telling of Carpenter’s film that manages not to be a complete carbon-copy at the same time.
3.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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