Good, but not great.
Boy, that Norwegian was a REALLY bad shot...
My headline is "Good but not great" and the kind of questionable stuff I saw in the opening sequence did not heighten the suspense--It made me question the integrity of the direction--maybe even the script. Can it be THAT tough to kill a dog when you're in the helicopter aiming an automatic weapon?? Ans: Yeah, if you want the dog to live and move the plot along... So, the dog's untouched shot after shot after shot...
Other problems: one editing mistake and one direction mistake wrenches a thinking viewer away from the suspense of THE moment when the three (count 'em, three) team members first see the space craft and rappel down for a closer look. I'd get more specific, but will leave it to astute viewers to spot the problems themselves. Bad, bad, bad.
Much ground-breaking care and attention was devoted to the central challenge here: visualizing the alien--and the rationale behind it. Unfortunately, NOWHERE in the dialogue did I find the really significant reason why the Thing continually looks different and goes through so many transformations. I DID hear it on the excellent "making of" documentary--but, unless I missed it (and if I missed it, how many others do?) there's no quick 1-2 line explanation from any of the Antarctic crew. This is a key element that would have given what we see even more credibility.
And it needed credibility. "Less light, less light," the brilliant man responsible for creating the alien's many transformations pleaded when Carpenter was shooting. He simply wanted to ensure we couldn't see the movie-making artifice. Another reason: it's just too, too fantastic to believe, making it bizarre--but not scary enough.
I do appreciate the fact that director John Carpenter latched onto the key component here: trust amongst the team members. Who is real, who is not? Got it. But he kept sidelining the critical suspense issue with those transformational sequences. Creepy? Not so much. Grotesque? Oh, yeah. Is that enough? Not for me. Which is why I say this is a good movie--but not great.
Want a great movie that gives you EVERYTHING? See the new alien feature, A Quiet Place. Ooooh, boy: now that's what I call GREAT.