Directed by Andy Muschietti [Other horror films: Mama (2013), It Chapter Two (2019)]
I’m a giant fan of the novel It – I read it annually. It’s all-around a fantastic book. I have great memories of the television mini-series from 1990, but let’s be honest: it certainly was lacking most of the great things the book brought us. And so when I went to go see this in theaters when it initially came out, I had my fingers crossed that we’d get a better adaptation. And though It was not without flaws, we basically did.
Let’s talk about the main seven kids, first. All actors did a good job, but the biggest kudos go to Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Jaeden Lieberher (Bill), Wyatt Oleff (Stan), and Sophia Lewis (Beverly). Richie was a crowd-pleaser, and for good reason. He had a plethora of fantastic lines, hilarious quips, and was overall a great character. Bill was as solid as you’d hope he’d be, and Lieberher did well to show the pain of losing his younger brother. Stan was a favorite of mine from the book, and Oleff played his careful nature (that bike stand scene gets a kick out of me) perfectly. And as for Lewis? Does wonderful with this new version of Beverly, who is so different from the mini-series.
While Mike, Ben, and Eddie were well-acted, I had a few gripes with some of their storylines. Mike no longer being the historian, that role instead going to Ben (in reality, both characters sort of filled the role in the book to a certain extent) really reduced the potency of Mike’s character, There wasn’t even a race-element, that we saw, of Henry’s bullying him. Mike just seemed like he had nothing much to do throughout the film. Ben played his lovesick puppy act well, but really, he was more a punching bag for both Henry and Pennywise than anything else. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) was well-done, and while I prefer the four listed above, he was the fifth best-done kid.
Bill Skarsgård brought Pennywise to life in a whole new way. I’m not going to say that Curry didn’t do a good job. But I will say what another individual said about comparing the two: Curry seemed like an evil clown, moderately charming, even, and not much more. Skarsgård had moments that made him seem alien (the beginning with George, where his smile and laughter suddenly died, for instance), and he honestly felt more threatening than most of Curry’s performance. Playing more like a kid, also, was a great addition.
Patrick needed more scenes to show the extent of his insanity (such as in the book), and honestly, I thought all of the bullies, Henry included, needed more characterization. Showing Henry’s father embarrassing him once in front his friends doesn’t do it for me.
While there were certainly a high amount of jump scares, and occasionally some not-so-great CGI, there were some standout scenes I really liked, such as Stan’s encounter with Pennywise near the end, Georgie’s encounter at the beginning, and the projector scene (overall). The Neibolt House sequences were certainly enjoyable also.
As for drawbacks, I have a few: the run-time, even at two hours and 15 minutes, was too short, some portions feeling rushed. I feel as though another 30 minutes, to carve out a few more characters, such as Patrick or Henry, wouldn’t have gone amiss. What they did with Mike’s character just felt off, as they gave most of what he was known for to Ben, which gave Ben a bit more to do, but really left Mike in the dust. I do have to mention also that I dislike that they moved the children’s portion from the late 50’s to the late 80’s. I get why they did it, and it came out alright, but I still don’t particularly like it.
Some of the classic scenes of the book, such as Richie and Bill’s journey to Neibolt House, Mike’s encounter with the giant bird, and the Killer Eye in the sewers, were nowhere to be seen. Hell, the Smokehole would have been extremely cool also, and bringing up the Ritual of Chud should have been mandatory. Exploring more of Derry’s past too, would have been welcomed.
Overall, though, I think that It was a fine adaptation. Not as great as could be done – we’d probably need an HBO mini-series to get something even close – but very enjoyable indeed.
This was one of the movies covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, episode #12. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.