IT – 2017 Movie Review
This is barely a review. It’s a personal mind vomit of my thoughts after seeing IT for people who have either read the book and or seen the original miniseries, and I want to cover some of the differences and what I think worked and what didn’t. Anything too….spoilery will be near the end in its own section.
Firstly it must be said this is an excellent interpretation that freshens up the source material and for the most part does Stephen King’s novel justice. I went and saw it with someone who had no knowledge of the book or miniseries and he loved it almost as much as I did.
The story has been transported from the 50s to the 80s giving a lot of us another chance to watch our childhood all over again. With the success of the Stranger Things series and Ready Player One being hyped to within an inch of its life, it’s safe to the 80s are enjoying a renaissance and this story fits right in there. Posters of Gremlins on the kids walls and Nightmare on Elm Street 5 playing at the cinema only makes this monster ridden world feel more magical yet also more real. It’s easy to understand why the kids are so quick to realise they are dealing with something supernatural when they are surrounded by it in pop culture. Luckily it’s not overdone, the viewer is not drowned in references and it works well to support the feel of the movie without being too intrusive.
Every single adult in the film is a complete piece of trash and is at all times covered by a thin sheen of sweat that suggests a sickness and putridness. The town cop shoots at this son to scare him, the pharmacist’s response to Bev saying he looks like Clark Kent is that she could Lois Lane, and because Mike’s relationship with his father was such an endearing part of the book they cut him out almost entirely. I feel like a lot of King’s stories speak about the divide between childhood and adulthood, it’s almost always an us vs them mentality because the adults have their own problems.
The Losers Club
Jaeden Lieberher as Bill is fantastic. He brings weight and gravitas to the role of a brother who feels responsible for the disappearance of his younger sibling and is a leader when things are darkest. The opening scene between Bill and Georgie is magnificent and has been taken directly from the first chapter of the book, which will definitely have loyal Stephen King fans sinking deeper into their seats in satisfaction and anticipation.
Finn Wolfhard as Richie is a huge part of what makes this movie successful. At first I thought the serious kid from Stranger Things would struggle being the funny guy but if you can appreciate the humour of twelve-year-old boys, i.e. sex, dicks, mums, STDs, you will find yourself having a number of genuine laughs. I found the original ‘beep beep’ Richie was more of a failing cheesy want to be impersonator character and was not actually funny but the writing and use of timing here is clever and its value as a tension reliever cannot be underestimated. Like the book he is in many ways the heart of the club.
Eddie played by Jack Glazer is more of a hypochondriac than I remember and rather than just being dependant on his asthma inhaler he has a fanny pack full of pills. However instead of being played as weak and sickly like the miniseries he is a pocket rocket who is more incredulous about the stupidity of the other boys for not noticing the risks and not afraid to tell them so. He is the smallest kid in the bunch but you get the feeling he’d be one of the best in a scrap.
Stan is very much reduced to the role of a fearful Jewish kid and is literally either scared or practicing his Torah in every scene. The sad reality is more of us would act/feel like Stan than Bill and it stings to be reminded of this, so his role is reduced.
Ben shows a lot of nuance playing the embarrassed boy in love. It’s a fine line and he never goes too far in either direction. His time spent in the library leads to him being given the role of the town’s historian that was previously Mike’s.
That leads me finally to Mike and Beverly and they are going to be talked about in the spoiler section because I feel like they both got a bit short changed.
Pennywise is pretty damn fantastic. He is chilling but playful, driven by hunger and hilarity not revenge or anger. He works like a trap, luring off children individually, presenting them with something inviting and then allowing them to spring it themselves. Yes his powers would be completely nullified if the kids ever thought to stick together or use a rope or something but so much of the horror is the moment where a kid decides to investigate and you’re literally yelling at the screen for them not to. It’s also, I imagine, more delicious for Pennywise when the child comes to him.
The trailers certainly showed a lot of the creepy moments, mostly Pennywise standing dead still behind a balloon. What they did not show is the jump scares. And there are a couple of spectacular ones carefully placed throughout the movie that you will never see coming. By the end we have seen a lot of Pennywise and whilst it was great fun it does tend to dull his ability to scare on shock value. This where Bills Skarsgard’s performance goes from great to masterful. He reels everything back and in exposing Pennywise’s own motivations makes him vulnerable and more like a wild animal that has been trapped and will rip its own leg off to escape. It allows him to tap into a truly feral and primitive side of Pennywise and it was this one that kept me up the next night.
Overall IT is a blast. It will scare you, it will make you laugh. IT will eat your heart if you get too close.
Instead of Beverly being the mature one, a tom boy, the catalyst for these pre-teen boys starting to discover adulthood and discovering, she is the group’s weapon master. In this iteration, because she once kissed a boy, she is known as the town slut. She cuts her hair off as a response to her father’s abuse and constant enquiring as to whether she is ‘still his little girl’. The people in the town even comment on her hanging out with a large group of boys. On top of that she is taken by IT and turned into a device used to reunite the boys so they can rescue her instead of her striking a killing blow. It’s a huge departure from her role as one of the strongest characters in the book and I have no idea why they turned her into such a victim or thought we would not notice. Thank god they did not include King’s “transition to adulthood” scene.
Mike also gets shafted and I can’t help but feel it’s because he the black kid. Yes he is the last to join the club so his role was never going to be as large as the rest, but his role as the group’s historian is entirely gone. He does not have his dad’s book and there seems to be no reason on earth why he would stay in the town after their childhood events when the others have gone. He’s also not given the innocent treatment the white kids get. His journey is a kill or be killed one, as his family runs the abattoir and he fears slaughtering the sheep.
He is the one who brings a gun when they go to rescue Bev, despite the kids not once discussing weapons or turning up armed at all. It’s like the other kids are all so good and honest they would never thing of such a thing, only grabbing some sharp railings as they arrive but Mike is packing heat. He is then forced to kill Bower in self-defence, not a monster but another human being, and the impact this might have on Mike is not addressed by the other kids or the film makers at any point. I just don’t understand why this character was so drastically changed and forced to absorb so much of the negative impact from the events of the story when compared to the rest of the kids.
Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I look forward to chatting about it in the comments or the forum!