So, it turns out the film is both a prequel to the 1982 version and to a large extent a remake at the same time. Large parts of the first two thirds of the movie are lifted from Carpenter's film, with only slight variations in the detail. The last third deviates significantly from the 82 version but more on that later. That they went this way kind of makes sense to me, as basically the Norwegian's would have followed more or less the same process the US team did in the Carpenter film.
What was great about the Carpenter film? Apart from my bias that says everything, firstly it's the intensity of paranoia that builds throughout the movie. Unfortunately this is lacking in Matthijs Van Heijninjen jnr's film, there is paranoia and the equivalent scene to the blood test in Carpenter's film has a novel twist but the cast and characters are just not memorable enough for the viewer to really feel the tension, something Carpenter's film had in spades. It was always going to be near impossible to fill Kurt Russell's MacReady shoes, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead struggles in this regard. It isn't so much that anything is wrong with her performance but the character she is saddled with. The rest of the cast are pretty non-descript and this really hurts the film.
Secondly, The Thing itself, as stunning and wonderfully graphic as Rob Bottin's practical effects were in Carpenter's film, there remained some mystery to what the characters were dealing with, making the superlative effects all the more effective. In the 2011 version all the mystery is lost in an orgy of mediocre at best (mostly) CGI effects, that diminish rather than enhance the intended idea. Speaking of the effects, the 82 film was a landmark for practical effects and almost thirty years on, the fact that those effects are superior should be a surprise, the gulf between the quality is so huge however, it's nothing short of incredible and yet more testament to Rob Bottin's genius.
I'm going to stop there, before I ramble on anymore about the virtues of the older film. Aside from the main two points above, the film feels largely redundant. I didn't hate The Thing, in fact I quite enjoyed most of it, there are a couple of nice nods to the previous films, and the opening and the closing bridge into the Carpenter film are nicely handled. Marco Beltrami's score is pretty good too, but the deviation towards the end of the film was a huge mistake for me. The feeling I'm left with ultimately is why? I don't think I'd ever watch it again, the good scenes aren't anywhere near as good as the Carpenter equivalents and the rest just didn't work. The best thing I can say is that it made me eager to watch the 82 version again and soon.