Wednesday, September 13, 2017
It (2017) Review
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A group of kids must stop an evil creature that takes the form of a maniacal clown.
Review: Wow, what crack are people smoking? This was a disaster! "It" was neither a faithful adaptation of the book nor an update of the '90s version. In fact, with a 2+ hour running time, the 2017 version had less character development than the '90s version which had commercials and cuts back to the adult characters. How in the fuck do you pull that off?! And, my goodness gracious, that interpretation of Pennywise is horrendous! Holy shit, that opening scene with G-g-g-eorgie was PAINFUL to endure. It was as if I were watching Pennywise as a kid going through puberty and trying to ask out a girl for the first time. GODDAMN! Now, don't get me wrong, there are many positives, especially in the technical department but, my, oh my, did they fuck this up.
Let's tackle the good first. The '80s setting was cool to see despite not playing as big of a role as one might imagine. The continual New Kids on the Block jokes were the highlight without a doubt. The cinematography was done quite well in order to create this dreary look to the town. Likewise, this same look helped to make Pennywise appear creepier on occasion; I did like him lurking in the background a lot. I've read conflicting complaints regarding the acting of the kids, however, I felt they did a good job and were one of the main highlights. Sure, there were a few times where the line delivery was awful, but I could say that about every single line from Pennywise. I think the show-stealer is Finn Wolfhard, as Richie, with probably the best lines in the movie.
Okay, I want to take a look at just Pennywise for a bit. His execution is a complete and utter failure. Upfront, his look is moronic and impractical. He's not supposed to be overtly scary since he's supposed to lure kids to him. Besides that, his taunting is weak, and the combination of his goofy expressions and schizophrenic shakes make him look fucking retarded during every encounter. By the way, they all play out the same damn way: kid sees something creepy and runs right into danger, Pennywise jumps out, looks and/or says something stupid, and then Pennywise runs at the screen screaming and shaking like a two-buck ho going through withdraw. Fantastic. Where is the shape-shifting? Where is It's arrogance? They've dumbed the character down to the point where It is just a bumbling fool and literally say to the audience he can't eat someone who isn't afraid...which he could...but that's neither here nor there. The '90s version went a bit overboard with the cartoonish villain aspect, but it better captures the gleeful evil and arrogance of It whereby he believes himself to be invincible. I don't know what to make of this abomination.
But the problems do not simply lie with Pennywise. The entire narrative structure misses the point of the book. The meat of the story involves the kids and their friendships. Here, some of the kids get, maybe, one throwaway scene to establish them and that's it. Hell, Richie didn't even get a personal experience meeting It! Ben has no backstory, Mike's backstory is changed and explained away in two sentences, and Stan is never shown to be a skeptic and also has one scene to set him up. How the hell could you not pull this off with that long of a running time?! Oh wait, I know, it's because you gotta spend 10 minutes setting up another scene of Pennywise running at the screen like a toddler on a sugar high. What was with trying to set Bev up as "hot" when she's supposed to be like 13? And what's with trying to force a love story into the mix with Bev and Bill?! And my final gripe involving Bev is her being kidnapped by It. HAH! Oh man, that was a good one! Yeaaaah, 'cause Pennywise wouldn't just eat her? And Henry dies? Whaaaat? The entire final encounter with It makes no damn sense whatsoever. They just start hitting him with whatever is handy, he flips into a well, says something stupid, his head explodes, and they assume It died. Come again?
I like the '80s setting, but this story simply works better in the '50s setting. The dynamics of the group and their friendships make more sense in that time period. Furthermore, the fears of the kids were more simplistic and easier for It to take that form. They included a lot of background posters of '80s horror movies which made me think maybe the Wolfman, for example, would be swapped with, say, Freddy Krueger instead. Nope. You could definitely feel many hands in the pot with this film--from studio meddling, multiple writers, and the multiple director changes--it all shows.
Overall, I'm happy with the casting of the kids, their acting, and the look and design of "It" as a film. The main reason I'm even rating this as high as I am is due to these technical aspects coming together considerably well. Unfortunately, the handling of the titular character is ruined, the story of the kids is not executed efficiently, things feel rushed in order to jump to the next scare--which are all the same, and the final battle is anti-climactic and doesn't even make sense while given little contextual buildup. There really isn't much emotion in this incarnation of the story which is pathetic given that a made-for-TV film from the '90s has more depth. This "It" has the '90s version destroyed in production value, but the 2017 version doesn't even come close to matching the heart. In the end, this was made for casual audiences who never even heard of "It." For me, it's just a big disappointment with cookie-cutter thrills made for the ADHD era.
Notable Moment: When Bev finds Ben's New Kids on the Block poster. The joke edit is AWESOME! This scene doesn't come close to fitting the tonal structure of the movie, but that is some next level, tasteful shenanigans if I ever saw it!
Final Rating: 6/10