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Movie Breakdown: IT (Noah)

September 7, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I saw IT in 3rd grade a week after an arm break. I dreamt that Pennywise the Clown (the film’s villain) waited at the top of my childhood home’s stairs with an axe. It’s the only dream from my childhood (outside of a recurring one featuring Pinhead and a talking Buddha statue) that I can remember. So, yeah, I’d say I’m excited.

Post-Screening Ramble:

After the abysmal The Dark Tower, we all have to admit to being nervous about IT. Sure, the trailers have been spot-on, the iconic Pennywise (as played by Bill Skarsgard in the film) seems suitably creepy and the early reviews have been strong. But this is Hollywood, the puncturing spear of cinematic dreams. I would like to tell you, IT is a very good, if not almost great film. The story of six kids in Derry, Maine at the tail end of the 1980s, squaring off against a demonic force in clown form is beautifully shot and genuinely scary throughout. Director Andy Muschetti doesn’t pull punches, offing Georgie in gruesome fashion within the first 10 minutes of the film. It’s a good choice as you’re fully aware that Muschetti can, and will, kill off his youthful protagonists, making Pennywise’s deranged threats all the more real. And Pennywise’s threats, in the form of the kid’s greatest fears, are consistently terrifying. Muschetti mixes CG and practical effects to great effect, with all of the various creepy-crawlies – the leper is a particularly chilling baddie – oozing with realism. The kid actors are uniformly good – Finn Wolfhard’s Richie is a mile-a-minute shit talker, and Sophia Lillis embodies Bev as an old soul in a damaged, youthful body – and as the film rushes towards its ending, you worry about their individual fates. And the film does rush. The source material for the film runs nearly 1,000 pages, and even adapting just half of it is a monumental effort. You feel it in the lack of character development in characters like Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor, who’s great in his limited role) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs, who could’ve been cut with little notice) as well as a few glossed over plot jumps. All in all though, it’s Bill Skarsgard’s show. His Pennywise epitomizes evil. From the first peek at his jacked up rabbit teeth and glowing yellow eyes, you’re terrified of him, and it only gets worse from there. I couldn’t have asked for more from an adaptation of this work. Muschetti has announced himself as a filmmaker to keep an eye on, and I’m more than excited that he’s been picked to helm both the sequel and the Locke & Key television series coming to Hulu.

One Last Thought:

The fact that this is great makes my whole summer.

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Movie Breakdown: IT

September 6, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I’m not a fan of Andy Muschietti’s Mama (ha!), but I’ve been really digging the look and feel of his IT.  Also, my girlfriend has read the book twice this year, so I’ve got her hype driving me as well.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t disappoint.

Post-Screening Ramble:

IT isn’t so much Stephen King’s IT as much as it’s a horror film with an IT theme.  The kids are all present, there’s an evil force that looks like a clown, and the story takes place in Derry, but that’s about it in the grand scheme of things.  This means that you should NOT go into the film expecting lots of character development and back story and heady King elements from the book.  Instead, you should go into it ready to be scared.  Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) is absolutely frightening, and it’s not just because of his glowing eyes or gross teeth – it’s really due to him being everywhere.  Director Andy Muschietti doesn’t hide Pennywise or occasionally roll him out for a jump scare.  Nope, he tosses him out there right from the start, and then those kids (and you, to be fair) just can’t get away from that fucking clown.  Every dark corner/nook/whatever, he’s there, lurking and ready to feed.  It sucks, man … but in an awesome way.

I don’t want to just praise Skarsgard’s instant-classic portrayal of Pennywise though, as the kids in the film really are great.  Jaeden Lieberher is stellar as the stuttery but strong Bill, Finn Wolfhard’s Richie is trash-talking perfection, Jack Dylan Grazer’s hyper-worried Eddie is fantastic, Jeremy Ray Taylor’s take on Ben is charming, and Sophia Lillis knocks it out of the park as Beverly.  There’s also others in play (Wyatt Oleff as Stan, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, Nicholas Hamilton as Bowers), but none of them are particularly notable since they just simply have less to do.  This is the film’s main issue issue – there are too many characters, and it somewhat stifles the story.  Personally, I think one of the movie’s three screenwriters should have considered combining Eddie with Stan and Ben with Mike.  This would have allowed enough extra screen time for certain details to shine brighter (like Pennywise’s influence on the weak) and to make the third act feel less rushed.  Maybe the inevitable sequel will be better at incorporating everyone?

Regardless of my nitpicky things, you have to go see IT.  The film is legit scary.  Just be sure to check your expectations if you’re a fan of the book.

One Last Thought:

It’s been roughly 20 hours since I saw this movie, and I’m still a little worried that Pennywise is going to jump out and try to eat some part of me.  I genuinely can’t remember the last time that a horror film affected me in this way.

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