Monday, October 28, 2013

Dark Star

Dark Star's cast is sort of like a bunch of garbage men on a garbage truck that they also live on and they are traveling in the desert somewhere very far from people.  The crew's job is to travel around looking for unstable planets to destroy.  In the meantime they run into a list of complications and just funny situations.  In our discussion in class it was said that it is more like a really long TV show rather than a movie, it has a lot of quirky funny things happening that do not really contribute to one solid plot.

The order of things happening in Dark Star is not even particularly important,  this take on a space sci-fi film had a very low budget, considering their mascot alien is a painted beach ball as one of the low budget factors to this movie.  It is kind of a ship of oddballs who are forced to live and work together, Pinback wants to have a comrade relationship with the others and tell stories and jokes and such but the others do not really want to.  Forcing  Pinback to be one of the most talkative and comedic of them all.  The truth is actually that Pinback is not even really supposed to be on the ship, he kind of snuck on in the last few moments before take off in the real Pinback's place.  Doolittle is the guy who takes charge after Commander Powell died in a tragic accident having to do with a radioactive blast, but the people on Earth won't pay for a shield to protect the other guys because it is too expensive, sounds terribly familiar to situations on Earth in times of budget cuts.  Doolittle has the personality of a wall, the most unique thing about him is the fact that he used to surf when he was younger.  Francis Boiler is also on the ship and he is sort of like the rough and tough kind of guy on the ship, he has ass kicking facial hair and gorgeous blond bangs that are parted in the middle and flip out like waves on the sides.  His idea of fun is stabbing himself with a pocket knife or shooting a metal square on the ship, all the while with a cigar or cigarette in his mouth.  Him and Doolittle both spend time ignoring and making fun of Pinback.  Talby is the last man of the ship, he sits up in the viewing area of the Dark Star.  When looking at the whole ship this spot looks just like R2D2 when he is mounted on a space ship.  Talby does not really socialize with the other guys, he is just up there looking at all the stars and things and letting his mind drift into space.  However Talby is one of the smartest guys on the ship because he actually pays attention to the ship.  They have various other characters in the form of voices, the computer is a pleasant sounding woman voice who has basically the main controls in her "hands", the voices of the bombs, BOMB 20 speaks more than BOMB 19.  Then there is the alien, a beach ball with feet that bounces around causing mischief for Pinback.  So things on the ship start getting kind of crazy after they hyper spaced away from the planet they destroyed with  BOMB 19.  They start relaxing and go to their room, it looks like a bachelor pad for sure, there are things all over the floors and pictures blurred out in the back.  Boiler smokes and plays the game where you spread your fingers out and try not to stab them.  Doolittle plays a card game like the lame-o he is and Pinback tries to get a rise out of them with funny glasses, then pisses off Doolittle with a rubber chicken.  They are headed towards another planet to destroy, a long trip ahead of them they have to pass the time some how.  Just to make things more exciting they run into an asteroid storm and have to activate the shields!  But a portion of the ship gets damaged and the bomb bay opens up and BOMB 20 comes out to launch, the computer finally talks it into going back into the ship.  But with the controls to launch all messed up they are doomed to repeat this scene again.  Like the mom she is the computer tells Pinback to go take care of the alien.  The alien doesn't want to eat or play, its fed up with the stupid men, so when Pinback is trying to clean up it decides to attack , the two trade hits and eventually the alien gets away.  Pinback chases the alien to the emergency airlock room after using a plank to get across the elevator shaft.  The Dark Star is like Mary Poppins carpet bag, it looks so small on the outside but has so many huge things on the inside!  The alien is clever and grabs the plank trapping Pinback on the other side.  So now he must face his fear of heights and try to shuffle across the ledge.  Once he is in the middle the elevator turns on and starts moving up and down, causing him to be trapped on the bottom.  He unscrews a panel and tries to climb inside, he gets stuck half way in, the phone is out of order, there is elevator music playing, and when he thinks he has saved himself it turns out the clean process wants to blow up the panel.  He gets out alive though so thank the comedic film gods.  He finds the alien and shoots it, the thing goes flying around the room like a balloon.  They all meet up for lunch in the food room and Pinback tells them about his scary ordeal but no one is listening, and they all talk about how weird Talby is because he is unsocial.  Pinback goes to a video dairy he is creating and makes a new entry about how everyone sucks on the ship and they don't care about him.  They make it to the unstable planet and start to deploy BOMB 20, however Talby is in the emergency airlock room trying to fix the laser malfunction part, no body knows he is there because Doolittle is a jerk and turned off his radio to him.  The laser blinds Talby and sets the bomb launch into a frenzy, it won't launch but still wants to blow up.  The computer can't talk the bomb out of it, so the crew is trying to.  Doolittle visits Commander Powell in this freeze room, but can't get a solid answer out of him other than to talk to the bomb.  He gets his space suit on and goes out to talk to it about philosophy and the meaning of the bombs life.  The best part is when the bomb says: "I think, therefore I am".  Doolittle talks the bomb into going back into the ship to have more time to think about blowing up, meanwhile Talby was shot into space so Doolittle has a jet pack on to rescue him.  The other two were inside fist fighting about Boiler trying to shoot the bomb.  As Doolittle is trying to rescue Talby, Bomb 20 decides it will blow up now, shooting Doolittle and Talby to drift further apart, Talby get picked up by the traveling space rocks he was talking about earlier and Doolittle gets to surf down to the red planet on a piece of debris.

They really could have turned this into a TV series and gone even further with it.  It was quirky entertaining story about different personalities clashing together in a confined space.   I really enjoyed this film because it was lighthearted and comedic, the characters were portrayed well, and hairy.  The low budget part of it just added to it's success as a whole.    

La Jetee

La Jetee transfers into English as The Jetty, an outcropping of land sort of, kind of like a dock or a port.  The first thing that comes to my mind is the Spiral Jetty in the Salt Lake, Utah.   Its a land and rock formation of a spiral reaching out into the waters, the spiral shape was also in my mind while watching this short film because of the memory theme La Jetee has, the spiral representing a gateway into another state of being.  Images of your own memory spiraling through your mind in stills much like the film has done by using only pictures and a narrator.  This was much more of an experience than it was a film, it was like being a little kid listening to someone read you a story as you only look through the pictures.

The plot of La Jetee is a spiral as well, its post Apocalypse France and the last remaining people are living underground.  A group of scientists begin experimenting with time travel to try to save their planet.  They are having problems with the people they are sending though, it seems they come back and are just not mentally stable enough.  So they come up with a brilliant plan, they have a prisoner who is obsessed with a traumatic event he witnessed as a child, a man being shot on an airport jetty.  They put him in a hammock with these huge bra shaped eye pads on him and send him into time travel!  They send in to the past where he meets a woman, he eventually begins having a romantic relationship with this woman.  They send him to the future to get supplies for their survival, once he is back from the future with the supplies he learns that the people forcing him to do this are going to execute him.  The people from the future tell him that they can save him but he will be in the future permanently, instead he was them to send him to the past so he can find the woman he loves, they send him to the past and he finds her.  She is standing on an airports Jetty with the wind blowing in her hair, he calls to her and begins running, suddenly he notices one of the guys trying to kill him and he is shot!  It is in this moment when he realizes that the man he saw die on the jetty when he was a kid was in fact himself getting shot.

The film takes you in one giant circle of this man's traumatic event.  The aesthetic of the film keeps the viewer in this storybook trans almost, it gives imagination a turn to play so to say.  A picture is just one moment in a sea of zillions of moments, it is like a statue, something created to represent a moment of importance, there is no way to recreate an exact moment on every angle but a picture is a good way.  The memory theme is very successfully dominant in La Jetee.  The narrators voice also played into the way the film progressed, he spoke slowly and flowed very nicely, it was not hard to understand what he was saying, I liked that a lot about this film.  It told you a story just like a friend may tell you a story, it was a monologue.  It also got me thinking about the purpose of memory and how everyone's memory is fluid, it can change and flow into something else because no one can remember things the exact same way.  

Silent Running

Silent Running is a film made by a Canadian director, Douglas Trumbull, who also worked on the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It's essentially about a man who finds himself on a space station greenhouse trying to keep Earths last living plants alive. He of course is a deeply emotional man however so the story takes you on a mini roller coaster ride of his journey after some difficult choices.

The movie starts out with this man, Freeman, tending to his plants and various things, as the camera pans out of a window you can see that he is on a gigantic space station greenhouse thing that has American Airlines logos painted on it.  It's sometime in the future when airlines are using space also and its learned later that there are no more living plants on Earth and everyone is happy about it.  Except Freeman because he loves plants and nature and small animals.  Freeman bunks with a few other guys who work on the space station greenhouse with him, those guys are not really like Freeman though.  They lack his passion for nature and the regret that men should have about destroying all the plants on Earth.  Freeman tries to persuade them with a cantaloupe, to no prevail.  Frustrated by his shipmates ignorance they all later find out over communications that the plan is to destroy all the greenhouses and head back to Earth because they are now only going to be operating commercially.  This is devastates Freeman and he stares off into space in a shock, all the other guys are highfive-ing and dancing around.  They start to take out orders and destroy the greenhouses, of course Freeman is not going to do this so he stands up against the others, ultimately murdering one of the guys after a little fist fight.  Anyway, he escapes into the deep dark corners of space, but he is all alone with three drones.  He has also sustained injuries during the fight he had with the shipmate, and it's so bad that Freeman cannot even stand up.  The way the actor does these scenes was hilarious, his cheeks were shaking and his hair was all over the place!  His knee is the spot that is injured but Freeman must hate the sight of blood because he cannot even look at it, he programs his drones to doctor him up, all the while he is puffing his cheeks and shaking is hair.  He starts to get better and teaches the drones how to plant and take care of the greenhouse areas.  Freeman talks to the communications folks who tell him it will be impossible to find him out in space so he should just contemplate suicide.  So he is now confident that he has escaped everybody ever and they will all just think he disappeared into space, luckily for him he as no family back on Earth so he is used to being alone.  After losing one drone to an accident he now names the remaining drones Duey and Huey and basically programs them to be his only friends.  Him and the drones just repair things that happen on the ship, maintain the plants, and play poker together until one day when Freeman sees that his plants are starting to die.  He realizes that they are not getting enough sunlight, so he tries to make up for it.  Sometime during all this he gets a message from some rescuers that have located him!  It's a miracle, he has been found and will be taken to safety, but that's not really what Freeman wants and he has only one option in his plans.  He packs up one of the drones in the greenhouse dome and instructs it to maintain the forest, that is it's sole purpose from here on, and he and the other drone will detach and blow up.  He aims the forest and drone at the sun and then has his final words with the remaining drone.  It's a kind of scene that is in the Titanic, the captain goes down with the ship, heroic in a way.  Freeman says something about when he was a kid he put a message in a bottle and threw it into the ocean and wondered if anyone had ever found it, in this situation he put a drone in a space greenhouse and sent it into space, so maybe somebody will find it and maybe not but he will never know.

The film was really quiet funny and entertaining.  The character was not like any actor we have seen in the spaceship science fiction films viewed as of yet, he was a nature man out in space where nature does not mean the same thing as it does on Earth.  He was a loner in the sense that no one really took the time to understand his perspectives, and the film gave you the idea that he had always been like that.  I am sure we could find many people just like Freeman all over the place now too, he feels alone and unappreciated, like newer things are replacing the good older things, pushing the past into extinction.  Technology is taking over, this is true to us now but we have not lost our past and I like to think we never will, there is something to learned when doing certain things in a certain method, like simply writing a letter instead of an email.        

Monday, October 21, 2013

Midterm Essay

Living Space
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 142 minute science fiction space film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1968. The film has a dominant presence with its smart use of lengthy shots, spectacular special effects, use of imagery, and the precise attention paid to sound and movement. The dialogue in the film is very limited and the communication of emotions become possible in methods of repetitions of sound, such as the sound of the astronauts breathing. Kubrick's choice of music adds to the zero gravity effect by sending the satellite stations floating through the camera shot almost like a dancer may float across a stage. Throughout the whole film the zero gravity special effect is done really well, at every opportune moment it seems there is a way it continues to keep the viewer in space with the cast. A great amount of attention was given to small material details, such as the special caps worn by the space stewardesses to keep their hair from floating about their faces. Apart from the material aesthetic and the way the film was presented by Kubrick there is the interpretation that comes from the story by the viewer, each viewer is not certain to have the same experience or interpretation. Kubrick consciously made no explanations or attached any underlying meanings to the story but that it is to be interpreted by the viewer, therefore creating the possibility of no right or wrong answers.
The story begins in a prehistoric Africa where an extraterrestrial force has planted a single black monolith which happens to be very close to a group of ape-like beings who become curious of its presence. Their courage grows as they approach the monolith and their fears start to subside as they touch it and become more comfortable, eventually leading to the evolutionary invention of the tool. The ape-like beings discover the tool is good for a lot of tasks, one of which is winning a battle with another group of ape-like beings that results in a murder. The power balance between individuals can now be measured in possession and use of tools. As billions of years have passed man is now at his peak of technological advancements and is now exploring with more confidence than ever before, his confidence is placed in the hands of artificially intelligent robots that control operated space stations. However there are clues that all of the new technological advancements are not entirely perfect, in one of the scenes a pen floats away from the sleeping passenger on a space shuttle due to zero gravity. The pen represents one of the many tools created in the evolution of technology that has now gone out of the control of it's creator. The space stewardess comes by to put the pen back in it's place, literally and theoretically, she is doing her part in the continuation of man's believed control that he has over his creations. The fact that humans in space must relearn how to walk and move, to use a zero gravity toilet, and must adapt to special space food also shows that there is something to be weary of in space.
Showing man's strength and need to explore, invade, and dominate the film takes the viewers to the scene of another monolith being excavated on the moon. Man, being the confident beings they are in this future setting, have no fear of the monolith and walk right up to it with a camera, a horrible radio signal sound is triggered and things get fuzzy. The perspective of the camera at one point puts the viewer in the space suit of an astronaut, humanizing this mistake of technological indifference of the much more advanced monolith. The radio signals towards Jupiter, which leads to the Jupiter Mission where the character HAL 9000 becomes prominent. HAL 9000 is the central nervous system of the spaceship on the Jupiter Mission, HAL has started showing growing characteristics of human-like intelligence. In HAL's perspective it is far more advanced than the humans that survive within its intelligence. HAL is starting to see the humans as something disposable, it has a plan to take full control over the operations. HAL relates a message that the mission will fail, sending the two astronauts out of the shuttle to repair a unit only to discover that it is working correctly, once inside the astronauts, Dave and Frank, have a conversation about shutting down parts of HALS controls if the unit does not fail as predicted and how HAL may react. They try to be sneaky but HAL can read lips and sees their conversation through the pod windows. Frank then goes outside of the shuttle to work on the unit again, HAL sends a pods sweeping arm to smack Frank sending him spinning out into space grabbing for his air tube.
At this point in the movie the rhythm of the Franks breathing are vital to the emotion of helplessness and the suffocation effect of being out of ones element, like a fish out of water, man cannot survive without technology in space. Computers, however, can function without breathing, showing the power the computer has over man in this environment. Dave goes to retrieve Frank in one of the pods, named the Discovery, but once Dave tries to return HAL has already taken over control and won't let Dave back into the main shuttle. Dave now knows the extent of what has happened, HAL has the upper hand here but Dave decides to position the Discovery pod door next to one of the main shuttle's entry points. Without his space helmet Dave is out of his element with the lack of oxygen but also the temperature is drastically lower, he pops the Discovery door and shoots into the entry area, this part uses the contrast of silence after a loud noise to also emulate the loneliness that Dave will be destined to. Once back inside Dave must now turn HAL's controls off, he ends up doing this task using a simple screwdriver tool in HAL's main system, cutting Dave's relationship with technology and forever securing his fate of an unknown death. Technological advancements almost replaced the human that created and cultured it, ultimately raising the question; without tools, what is man?
Images start to appear and travel into the unknown at an unknown speed of time and space, colors and textures become more important then locations or dates, it seems that every element or feeling can be translated into light and movement. Now free to create any reality Dave finds himself in a strange room eventually discovering himself over and over but at different stages of aging. He is watching himself grow older and weaker, he walks in on himself at his last supper scene where his older self accidentally knocks over a glass, the glass breaks but what's inside is still there, foreshadowing symbolism of the relationship between the body and soul. The scene pans over to oldest Dave on his death bed, hovering in front of him is a monolith. Oldest Dave stares at the monolith in his last moments and then his soul is free from its body, what appears next is an embryo like star child. Dave's soul can now be reborn into a new vessel, perpetuating life and progress. Being reborn symbolizes the metaphysical relationship between creatures and their environments, the journey of life rather than creating or destroying life.
With the theme of life traveling rather than being destroyed and created, ideas and creativity also travel in the situation of their impact over time in the form of a new film; Gravity. Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is not a remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the two can be compared on their similar plots and styles. Gravity, 90 minutes, is remarkably shorter than 2001: A Space Odyssey's 142 minutes, showing the quicker pace newer films seem to have over older films. Reviews commented on the film's ability of holding the audiences' attention even with lengthy shots and lack of characters, this shows just how different the audiences of 1968 might have been when compared to 2013's. Length of the films set aside, Gravity brings a new plot with new characters, this time a female lead, Ryan Stone, who is played by Sandra Bullock, is on her first mission in space, she is paired with a veteran space traveler on his last mission coincidentally, Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney. Things start to turn for the worse when a storm of debris from a Russian missile heads their way while they are outside of the shuttle, they cannot make it inside in time and get hit by the debris storm, sending Stone attached to an armature of the shuttle spinning into space forced to detach she is then spiraling alone into space. Her breathing mirrors her emotions throughout the film, mirroring her helplessness as well as loneliness and her physical state with lack of oxygen, the same attention paid to the use of breathing audio in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kowalski's character has a self propelled pack enabling his efforts to save Stone, leading to their perilous journey to find a safe station before the debris storm returns. In their attempts Stone becomes entangled in parachute straps with Kowalski only holding on by the rope attaching them together, he detaches himself in hopes that Stone will have better odds of survival alone, forever securing her fate of loneliness. Stone is forced to embark on this mission with very little knowledge or guidance, she narrowly escapes strings of bad luck that seem to never let up for her. The idea of Stone's character forever being alone is supported when its revealed she lost her only daughter at a young age from a school yard accident. The spectacular special effects in the film are breath taking and the visuals are only enhanced by the 3D element. By making Gravity in a 3D version it gives the audience the feeling of zero gravity, putting the viewer in the suit of Ryan Stone as she drifts through space and her different emotions when paired with the audio. 3D also adds to the experience when any prop is experiencing zero gravity, for example there is a reoccurring image of a pen floating, just as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the pen symbolizes the unknown power of what humans have created and trust with their lives in environments not suitable for human life, such as space travel technology. The pen is not the only connection to other imagery in films, the image of the embryo/fetal position used in the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey is used in Gravity also, when Stone sheds her suit, suspended in zero gravity inside a ship, she resembles an unborn baby floating inside a womb, bringing the idea of her soul traveling beyond her body into a new dimension, she represents the star child. Safe inside the Russian Soyuz Capsule she puts on a suit that has the number 42 on it, 42 can be referencing “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” where the number 42 is the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything”. The number 42 on the suit is foreshadowing her possible success in survival when she is hit by yet another road block once the Soyuz Capsule is aligned toward the Chinese ship she discovers there is not enough fuel and begins to shut the oxygen flow off to die painlessly. In what seems like the last moments of Stone's life, Kowalski suddenly appears in a hallucination only to tell Stone of another method to get the ship where it needs to be. The same use of silence is in the scene when Dave shoots from the Discovery into the main shuttle entry is used during the scene in Gravity when Kowalski shoots into the Soyuz Capsule. The silence of loneliness is contrasted with Kowalski's presence, then again supported when it's apparent his appearance was only a hallucination of Stone's. With the grace of luck she some how makes it to Earth nearly drowning after landing in a lake, she finds her way to shore and takes her first steps very weak and wobbly. Her first steps signify her rebirth on Earth, the continuation of her soul, her metaphysical energy.
The similarities of the two films is apparent in their themes of helplessness, loneliness, and the threat of technology. The aesthetics of both show great advancements in cinema and the technical parts that join in the end to create something that uses sight and sound in a way that creates a unique experience for the viewer. The obsession with discovery and progress parallels closely with obsession of the eminent disaster of said progress and knowledge. By leaving the explanations of imagery in 2001: A Space Odyssey open to the viewer it gives permission for Gravity to do the same, which it takes and spins into it's own completely new creation but still relates strongly to the same concepts and ideas about metaphysics and humankind's metaphysical relationship with it's environment.

The Planet of the Apes

This movie is one of my all time favorites because I remember watching it as a kid and loving it.  However I loved it for the awesome costumes and the fact that the white man was getting treated like a slave by apes.  What I didn't know was that the movie actually had a lot more to it besides what I loved about it, it has a story of political power and the strength religion holds within that political power.

The film starts off with a space mission with three men and one woman, they embark on their mission and lay inside their fancy space beds.  They travel to a new planet and crash into a sea, Taylor, the main character, gets out of his fancy space bed to find the only woman on the ship is dead!  How unlucky for those strapping three men.  Also unlucky is the fact their space craft is not made for water, it begins to take on water and the three must escape, but before they do Taylor sees they have traveled into the future thousands of years.  They get their space backpacks and jump into the life raft.  They paddle to the shore and try to figure out where they are.  They decide to wander off into the desert to find something if anything.  They find a plant and continue on their paths leading to more plants and eventually a water fall, they strip and dive in.  All is well until some natives come around and tear apart their fancy space outfits.  They watch the natives and decide they are way smarter until a group of gorillas on horseback come rampaging into the area and start capturing people.  They shoot the poor lone black man, playing into the idea that in horror movies the black person always dies.  Taylor gets captured after he gets shot in the neck.  He can't talk because of the bullet wound.  But he does find a cute little human lady, Nova.  The people of this new place cannot talk, only the apes.  Taylor is pissed because the apes treat the people like animals...mmmm...weird.  Zira is a smart and opinionated scientist female ape and she is engaged to Cornelius this archeologists ape.  Zira knows Taylor is different than the others, he is blonde however, but of course Taylor tries to communicate and eventually does.  A long struggle escalates because Zira wants to know why Taylor is so smart and he knows things that the apes believe to be impossible.  Their social system is intertwined with their religion that holds a tight hand with their politics.  Also what is interesting is the hierarchy the apes have developed by type of ape, the chimps seem to be the more liberal of all, they are interested in science and learning, the orangutans are the religious and political leaders, they are just there to lay down the law, the gorillas are there to do the grunt work, they are warriors and guards.  The film shows that Dr. Zaius knows why Taylor is different than the other people they have encountered when Dr. Zaius crushes a paper airplane Taylor made to show Zira and Cornelius that flight is possible and that is how he got to them, also when he sees that Taylor has written something in the sand and scratches it out.  Eventually Taylor heals and can talk but of course they still try to treat him like a slave/animal.  Zira and Cornelius try to stand up for Taylor in court because Taylor got caught trying to escape ending up in their sentencing of career failure and reputation ruined forever as scientists.  So they make up a secret plan to escape to the forbidden land and to take Taylor with them before the evil blonde monkeys can mess up Taylor's brain so he can't tell everyone about what humans are capable of.  Of course Taylor takes his silent somehow beautiful "lover/mate" Nova with him, they reach the forbidden land spot where Cornelius had found evidence of early civilized humans, a culture different and maybe better than that of the apes.  They take along with them Lucias, Ziras nephew.  Lucias' character is funny and kind of a smart ass.  He represents the innocence of younger people who seek knowledge.  Indeed the do find the spot but they are not alone!  Gorrillas and Dr. Zaius find Lucais who gets his gun stolen by them, Taylor talks Dr. Zauis into going into the cave to see the truth!  And to save Zira and Cornelius' reputations and careers.  But the Dr. knew what was in there and tries to pull a fast one, Taylor ties him up, sooo humiliating for him, Taylor takes Nova along with him because the apes let them go into the unknown to discover their ancestors fate.  Dr. Zauis is a trader and tells Zira and Cornelius he will still ruin their lives.  The ending scene is Taylor and Nova on a horse, they soon discover the remains of the statue of Liberty and Taylor screams "You maniacs!" and pounds his fist into the sand.  He was home all along!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Thing From Another World

The Thing From Another World, a creepy film set in Alaska about an alien that is not that foreign to the people on earth.  It's a story that incorporates science and the military and tries to mold them into one alien fighting team.  But of course those two things are like oil and water, share the same traits but don't like to mix!  However it sure is interesting to see them try and that is whats going on in The Thing.  

So things start off when Scotty, a journalist, meets up with some airforce men at a club of some sort.  The guys are playing card and get a call to fly up north to some spot in the middle of no where Alaska to investigate some mysterious aircraft.  They get up there and land at a camp of scientists, among the scientists is a woman named Nikki, with whom Captain Hendry has had some romantic drunken past with.  Nikki's character is interesting because she takes the upper hand with Hendry at some points in the movie, and her "domesticity" shines through later on to lead to their win over the alien.  They eventually go out and find the downed aircraft, its some how frozen in the ice.  They all circle around the shape and look at each other and excitement/horror when the scientists are excited thinking this aircraft is a UFO.  They decide to use some heating device to melt the ice and recover the aircraft, but something goes wrong and they accidentally blow it up.  Scotty is all mad because they are ruining world changing discoveries!  The ship was not the only thing they found however, someone spots a figure in the ice!  They order some men around and they chip the figure out of the ice and dog sled it back to the science camp.  Immediately once back at the camp the scientists and the airforce men are on opposing sides.  Hendry is hellbent on following orders and Carrington wants to thaw the being out for the sake of scientific discovery!  Thus the start of the battle between the military forces and the scientists.  So Hendry takes the body into a room and breaks a window to keep it frozen.  He sets his men up to do intervals of keeping watch over the alien, meanwhile they are trying to radio out but are having a hard time.  One of the men set to watch the alien gets creeped out by the alien looking through the ice so he throws a blanket over it.  He of course doesn't realize that the blanket is a heating blanket and its turn on!  So the ice melts and the alien is alive!  The military man freaks out and shoots the alien but nothing phases it.  Everyone comes to see what the commotion is about and the alien has escaped to the outside where he is battling the sled dogs.  A few dogs get the short end of the deal and get their blood sucked by the alien, but they did rip off one of his hands.  The scientists are checking out the arm and find out it is some sort of plant, like a horrible carrot creature.  They find some blood on it and the arm starts to move on its own!  The scientists discover a dead dog in the greenhouse drained of its blood and come to the conclusion the alien had been in the greenhouse and will come back.  Carrington puts three people on watch to wait for the alien to come back and to not tell Hendry.  They also discover that the arm has seed pods on it, and of course Carrington who wants to study this alien because they must be much more advanced than us here on earth takes some seeds and starts to grow his own aliens in his little greenhouse in the arctic.  The alien comes back and attacks the men and kills two of them.  The remaining survives with flesh wounds, also he tells everyone the alien had the others hanging to drain their blood.  (The early obsession of zombies?  Blood sucking aliens...mmm.)  Hendry finds out the blood supply they need to help the injured man has gone missing, Nikki discovers where it is going however when she finds some of Carringtons notes.  She shows Hendry and all hell breaks loose.  Everyone finds out what Carrington has been doing with the blood supply, feeding alien pods!  Hendry gets orders from the man on the radio telling him he must keep the alien alive.  Hendry thinks this  is the worst possible idea and decides to go against orders.  Finally a moment where the military is betraying itself!  The time comes when Nikki saves the day, they are all gathered around trying to think of how to kill the alien, Nikki is filling coffees or something.  They are thinking of how to kill a vegetable and Nikki just blurts out "Boil it!", brilliant!  They stage a death scene with kerosene and a flare gun.  The alien comes barging in and they douse him and shoot away, they whole place goes up in flames and Nikki almost burns down in a couch cushion mess.  It doesn't really work that well because the alien gets away and runs into the winter abyss.  So they must make up a new plan, electrocute it! The alien starts to show intelligence and cuts the gas line or something, Hendry must use the generators.  While waiting for the alien to come in and get killed, Carrington pulls the plug on the power, holding people at gun point.  Things escalate into Carrington running into the alien confessing his love for science but getting swatted away like a bug.  Guess the alien doesn't really care about science and wants blood!  Hendry successfully electrocutes the alien, actually he burns the crap out of him.  Nikki and Hendry start to take things a little further and Scotty finally gets his big story!  Ending the film with the phrase "Watch the skies, everywhere, keep looking, and keep watching the skies"

The Thing was a jam packed movie, the dialogue was so new and fresh than what we have watched.  They talked smart but it was entertaining and kept my attention.  I do with the alien looked more scary or different than Frankenstein's Monster.  The alien just was not that scary, to me the best part was the interaction between the rest of the cast.  Nikki and Hendry's relationship was fun and I felt like they genuinely liked each other as friends also.  The alien being a sort of vegetable was pretty funny as well, although he resembled nothing like a vegetable.  The idea of something growing and thinking is something Them! and The Thing have in common.  Although a vegetable growing and ants growing are very different its still something that seems not so scary in it's "natural" state as tiny ant and a carrot.