It (2017) Movie Review

The big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal novel, It, has finally hit cinemas. The novel has already been adapted into a television miniseries in 1990. Hindsight is everything and while nostalgia plays a part, the miniseries is not that good. Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown is really the only thing that goes beyond critique as the great actor delivers a great performance. But that was then and this is now. Andy Muschetti, the director of Mama, has taken the reigns over the film adaptation which only covers one half of the story. How does it fare?

It is one of the best films of 2017. The filmmakers took a wise choice by instead of adapting the entire novel, they instead chose to go chronologically and thus the child half of the story. This helps keeps the film focused on one singular story instead of having to cater to the half where the children are adults. In fact, this makes the film feel more like a coming of age story…that just happens to feature a killer monster.

PennywisePeople were wondering how Bill Skarsgard would fare up as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. His version of the infamous killer clown is far different from what came before. This Pennywise is from the get go, a monster and definitely otherworldly. While the Tim Curry interpretation was much more bombastic and chewing scenery, Skarsgard is vicious. He still cracks (very dark) jokes but is much more silent and more like a predatory waiting to catch its prey. He’s not in the film all that much, Pennywise is a shapeshifter, but he does make the most of his screen time.

The Losers ClubThe true heart of the film lies within the kids aka The Losers Club. Bill, Mike, Stanley, Beverly, Ben, Eddie and Richie make up the group of outcasts who have to come together to stop this evil that lies within their city. The standouts for me are Beverly, Ben, Eddie and Richie. Beverly is the only girl in the group who has to deal with her own monstrous home life. Eddie and Richie provide the comic relief as the former is something of a hypochondriac while the latter is the jokester of the group. Ben is the chubby new kid and that is what I was as a kid. The other three do fine in their roles but these four were my favorites. The best part about all of them is that they behave like children. They swear like children do as in they just swear to swear. If there is one weakness is that some of the kids, Mike and Stan, don’t really get much to do.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the sound design. In any sort of horror movie or thriller, sound design plays an integral role. Whenever Pennywise enters the scene, he is always accompanied by a haunting tune. Since you have to pay attention to a lot of background material as well, it makes you wanna go back and watch the movie again to hear things you may not have heard the first time. Since the movie is set in the 80’s, it would have been easy to lace the film with an 80’s soundtrack. The filmmakers go a better route and only really include one notable 80’s act and it’s more of a running joke than anything.

Pennywise The Losers Club

Andy Muschetti was a perfect choice to direct this film. You can tell that he wanted to stay true to the source material but also know that he was adapting it to film and thus had to make changes to better fit a film narrative. For a movie that is two hours and fifteen minutes, I hardly felt it. In fact, as soon as I realized that the third act was starting I was genuinely surprised. Once the movie was done, I wish that we could have spent more time with the cast and got to learn more about the characters. Even though there is an inevitable sequel on the way, this film does work on its own as a complete film while leaving just enough out there to hint towards the future. Not sure if this is the best Stephen King adaptation I have seen but it is certainly one of them.

SCORE: 9/10

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Why I’m Exicted About “It” (2017)

There is no hiding that when I was a little kid, I used to be afraid of watching 1990’s “It” miniseries. Something about Tim Curry’s portrayal always stuck with me. But as time went on, that fear slowly subsided and I saw the miniseries for what it was. Frankly it’s kind of bad. Other than the performances by Curry and the child actors, there’s nothing really great about it. Some of it has to do with the time and age it was produced and others have to do with it being a basic television miniseries. The book is firmly a mature read as it is full of violence and mature themes. It would have to be due to being about basically a killer clown.

So news came about the movie being in development and it has been in development for years. I honestly didn’t think that the film was going to be produced at that point. But finally Mama director, Andy Muschetti signed on and the ball just kept rolling on from there. Now about a year and a half later, the film is about to be released and anticipation is high for the movie. In fact it is very high especially for a horror movie.

Many I know were hesitant because it was a “remake” despite not being anything of the sort. I can’t believe how many people I had to remind that the television miniseries from the 90’s was just that. Sure I know that home releases edited the two together to make it seem like a four hour movie but people really insisted that it came out in theaters. But now the people who are very much “anti” remakes/reboots are very much on board for this film.

It differentiates itself from the other adaptation by moving the time periods in which the story itself. The adolescent half takes place during the late 1980’s while the all but confirmed sequel will take place during modern times (presumably 2016). The horror aspect which has been increased to match the tone of the books. You will actually get to see Pennywise get to be a monster, killing and dark humor included. There is also characters that were omitted such as Patrick, a member of local bully Henry Bowers, are included in this as his character was way too dark for a 1990’s tv adaptation.

My problem with a lot of horror movies is that they seem to take the cheap and uninteresting take in producing them. Even though this movie does not have the largest budget, it certainly doesn’t have a small budget either. The team behind the film seems to be squeezing out every penny that they can out of their budget to deliver the best product that they can.  When hearing Andy Muschetti promote the film, you can tell that he also wanted to deliver the best. While staying true to the novel, knowing that not everything works on screen as it does print.

The marketing for the film has also been on point. The first trailer for the film never gave clear shot of Pennywise other than little brief glimpses. Then pictures started to pour out and with the second trailer, we actually got to see more of Pennywise but it was still very much limited. Then with the TV spots, we still never see much of Pennywise other than really brief glimpses. The most we ever see of him is from the iconic sewer scene between he and Georgie. The most terrifying one for me was the “Wonder Day” TV spot where it ends on a seriously dark bit of humor that was unexpected. Watch it here:

Though I may have some issues with Warner Bros. and how they are handling the DCEU, I can’t help but tip my hat to them on how they are handling this. It has me both equally terrified and excited to see the movie. I always pre-ordered my ticket for Thursday, just so I can have a great seat to watch it.

‘It’ Trailer Reaction

It’s no secret that I found the TV miniseries “It” based on Stephen King’s novel terrifying. Tim Curry gave a terrific and terrifying performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. But rewatching it in later years, it is clear that it’s ambitions are greater than what they could have produced back then. Now it’s 27 years later, and Pennywise has made a triumphant return. The movie, which only seems to cover the main characters in their adolescence, had a trailer finally released and it was terrifying.

First things first, I do enjoy the touch that we never get a clear image of Pennywise. His face is either obscured, moving too fast to make out a clear image or only in it for a single frame. Though we all know what this new Pennywise looks like due to images being released, it was still a good choice to not reveal him just yet. Instead, this trailer focused on the threat that Pennywise casts over the town of Derry and particularly the children. Almost all the scenes that feature Pennywise are him in pure predator mode. Special mention must go towards the end where we see him rise out of the water with the bottom half of his face still in the water. This imagery evoked something of a predator just waiting to strike its prey.

Now many people have been comparing this trailer to Stranger Things. That comparison is like a snake eating its own tail. Stranger Things is currently one of the hottest things in popular culture. But there are worse things to be compared to but it is easy to forget that Stephen King’s novel and the miniseries based on it influenced Stranger Things. But something you don’t see a lot anymore are kids in “adult” situations. These are kids who take it upon themselves not only to save their own lives but to rid their town of an ancient evil.  The trailer also got this point across as we see them doing “kid” things such as riding their bikes in a group, hanging out in an old shed or something or how Pennywise is seemingly terrorizing them at school

I was a little on the fence about the movie. Not because I have a problems with reboots/remakes/rehashes or whatever have you. Just it seemed like something that would get unfairly criticized and compared and maybe the creative team might get lazy. There were all the production problems before the movie started shooting. Losing an acclaimed director and writer, Cary Fukunaga, who is still credited as a writer. But the talent that has come aboard has seemingly really stepped up their game to give a worthwhile and terrifying product.

The movie will be out in September and I’m sure to see it on the first night.