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.

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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.

‘The Dark Tower’ Review

Stephen King’s epic series of novels has finally come to the big screen after a long period of stop and go. Idris Elba stars as Roland Deschain aka The Gunslinger, the last in a line of “knights” from Midworld. Matthew McConaughey is his main antagonist: The Man in Black aka Walter Padick, a sorcerer who wishes to destroy The Dark Tower to seemingly unleash Hell upon the universe. The two have been going at one another for years but are finally brought together again by an 11 year old boy, Jake Chambers, whose ability to “shine” is crucial to The Man in Black’s plan.

I’ve only read about three and a half of the books that consist of the eight Dark Tower books. I’m also aware that almost all of Stephen King’s stories (books, novellas, short stories) are all linked and through The Dark Tower itself. I did not expect this movie to go into any of that due to licensing issues. But what did I get? Well it was not bad but it really wasn’t good either. The best way to describe the movie was thin. At a little over 90 minutes, the movie felt like it should have been at least 15 minutes longer.

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First and foremost, the performances are good. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are top notch actors and do the best with what they were given. The only problem is that their characters are two dimensional with hints at something more. Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers is a little hard to gauge but that is always kind of the problem with child actors. He certainly did not give a bad performance and he was never annoying but it always felt like something was off. The rest of the supporting cast with Claudia Kim, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert and others are fine but they are given even less depth than the main characters.

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The biggest problem with the movie seems to be editing. You can tell that the movie has been cut in many different ways. Sometimes characters finish conversations that never even started on screen. The editing is also off when characters just seemingly show up at places with no set up. Even with the editing issues, the movie is not the mess that you might expect when you hear someone say that. It is a fairly linear story that moves at a good pace but as stated previously there should have been more to the movie.

The thinness of the movie hinders it in as much as we do really know who the characters are, why they are doing what they are doing, how they are able to do what they do and so on and so on. There are many opportunities for character developing moments and they probably were there but the film simply breezes over them. I was never expecting this movie to get as lofty and trippy as the source materials do. But I did want something more to get a sense of how this universe or multiverse works.

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Nikolaj Arcel is the director and this is is his big budget film. The film actually has a modest budget for the type of film that it is. But as per usual when these types of movies, you get the sense that either the director did not get a real good grasp or the studio might have interfered. Honestly, I think it was a perfect storm of events. There have been talks about making the series a television series and this movie kind of proves that to be true. It seems really big and unwieldy for a feature film or even a series of feature films.

Ultimately it seems that the film struggled to find its own identity. On one hand, it had to please hardcore fans and before obvious reshoots, it was supposed to be a sequel of sorts to the books. On the other hand, it is supposed to introduce a new audience to the rich mythology. It ultimately succeeds in doing none of those things. But it is not a failure of a movie. Just a mess of one.

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SCORE: 6.5/10

Stephen King’s It (2017) Teaser Trailer Relased

This movie looks terrifying. Despite pictures being released of Pennywise, the trailer never really features a lingering shot of the monster clown. This helps build up suspense for when we get an actual reveal. Plus, that slideshow sequence was absolutely terrifying. I am not the biggest horror fan but this movie has me hyped.

The New Pennywise Revealed and It’s Terrifying

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(via Entertainment Weekly)

The titular “It” in Stephen King’s upcoming feature film adaptation has been fully revealed. Previously only the character’s face was revealed but now it’s full form has been revealed. The character had to be distinct from the Tim Curry version and they definitely went out of their way to achieve that. Pennywise in this adaptation is much more lankier with odd proportions. The manner of dress for the killer clown is one much more seen in clowns before the 20th century. There is no denying that this a monster clown. Can’t change that face too much.