AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, TV PERSONALITY
Unless you have been living under a rock or void of a television it is unlikely that you haven’t seen, or at least heard, a trailer for the movie. The advertising campaign for Stephen King’s IT has been so aggressive that during almost every advertisement break you get a glimpse of the grimly iconic Pennywise and his infamous red balloons, but has the marketing campaign done the film any justice?
If we are talking about box office numbers, then yes. IT has shattered numerous records and set a new bar for horror films, racking up a whopping $185 million globally to date, by far the biggest launch ever for the genre, and the film has redefined how Hollywood views the month of September, which has never seen a movie open to such dizzy heights. Now, putting the hype and bums on seats aside, is the movie any good?
For me it was a very middle-of-the-road experience for many reasons. Slimming the 1,116-page novel down to a 135-minute run time involves cutting a lot of individual character time, to the point where several of the characters blend together. Some abrupt, confusing edits suggest a longer version of the story where the more neglected protagonists get more screen time, but as it is, various characters simply feel like horror film victim fodder.
Due to the lack of character development, when each of the seven losers gets their due and encounters Pennywise one by one, we simply don’t care enough about them and really don’t understand each character’s crucial personal strife and inner fears to be bothered if they live or die, which is bittersweet. Had Bill and his cohorts (Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Eddie and Stanley) been more padded out when they were separately menaced by the thing they most feared, as well as being more straightforwardly persecuted in classic Stand By Me style by a group of older school bullies, led by the sheriff’s son Henry, we would have been more emotionally resonant and invested.
Director Andrés Muschietti and his writers, Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman and Cary Fukunaga, do stick relatively close to the 1986 novel by porting in King’s often clunky dialogue where they can, and adding in-jokes and Easter eggs to acknowledge where they skim over King’s bigger and harder-to-convey elements, which is refreshing. IT’s biggest change is what’s been done to the period, which has jumped forward three decades. Instead of beginning
with Bill’s (Jaeden Liberher) brother, Georgie’s (Jackson Robert Scott) disappearance in 1960, we’re in the summer of 1988. This lets the reboot buy into the current vogue for eighties teen-flick nostalgia, previously established with Netflix’s Stranger Things. Any eighties child will certainly be left feeling nostalgic, grinning from ear to ear, with jokes referring to New Kids On The Block and Molly Ringwald, who both became the 80’s child’s staple diet.
Muschietti’s film does have a lot to whip through in just over two hours, even though this entry is only tackling half the book, so to be too critical would be unduly unfair. Muschietti & Co have done a decent enough job within the time frame. Overall IT wasn’t the film I was hoping to see, and I felt slightly dissatisfied. The film’s plus points are Bill Skarsgard, who does an amazing job as Pennywise and really holds his own as a new horror icon, and the younger cast, who form the pre-adolescent ghostbusters. These are very fine actors in their own right, with Sophia Lillis (Beverly), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie) and Nicholas Hamilton (Henry) giving real stand-out performances that pulled the rug from under their fellow co-stars.
I didn’t want to make comparisons to IT, the 1990 TV miniseries, however I found myself doing so no sooner than the film began, which did detract from my overall enjoyment of the experience. The original was much bleaker, and the seven pre-teen outcasts seemed more real and fearful of Pennywise. Jonathan Brandis, who played Bill, delivered on so many levels when compared to 2017’s Jaeden Lieberher. Brandis was a hard act to follow and it’s sad to say Lieberher just didn’t make the cut. Chapter One wasn’t ground-breaking, and for a very run-of-the-mill horror by numbers, Muschietti’s IT delivered. The shocks that were served up in the 1990’s feature, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, were nowhere to be seen this time around. Tim Curry’s Pennywise was just that much more twisted and darker, while the opening scene was more repressive and heart wrenching than that of the reboot. IT 2017 is a very well told horror tale that would certainly be better targeted towards the PG13 market. Think The Monster Squad meets Goosebumps, with ludicrous nightmare imagery, and you have the IT reboot all rolled up into one.
IT is in Cinema's now.
IT is back for a new generation, but can the killer clown, played by Bill Skarsgard, more than fill Tim Curry’s nightmarish 1990 iconic Pennywise clown’s shoes?
New Line Cinema
29 August 2017
Micheal Rockefeller's disappearance is compelling and there has never been a satisfying answer to the question that’s haunted the Rockefeller legacy since 1961. What ever happened to young Michael Rockefeller?
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Review / Published 13 September 2017 @ 00:45 AM