Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton and Bill Skarsgård
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman
Rated: 14A for coarse language and violence
Runtime: 134 minutes
Now playing at Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton and Scotiabank Theatre
It seems that there is a bit of a Stephen King revival happening, what with the recent movie adaptation of The Dark Tower and the ongoing tribute with the Stranger Things series on TV. I’m a bit of a King fan myself, having read only a few of his three million books but watching far too many of the movies that were made of them. Many are not so good, but a rare few are priceless.
This is not the first time that It has been acted out but never on the big screen as it is now. Mama director Andy Muschietti got the King’s blessings to get Bill Skarsgård in pancake makeup and a big wig for the new Pennywise the Clown, otherwise known as It, the twisted tormentor of children in Derry, Maine, now set in the late 1980s.
There’s seven specific tweens that are the focus of It’s attentions: Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff). Life already has its pressures and unpleasantnesses for this lot, what with relentless schoolyard bullies like Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and Gretta (Megan Charpentier), not to mention their parents, all of whom register high on the Geiger counter for abusive jerks in their own right.
In short, our seven heroes certainly have their work cut out for them, especially since Pennywise manipulates them with visions of their worst fears come to life, but only so that they can see them. That means that only they can battle It, lest they fall as It’s next victims.
Yeah, that King sure is good.
I especially like his setups with a gang of close but crude kids who live in a world – usually a town in New England – where adults are barely important. King is particularly adept at bringing periods of time to life so this movie does seem fondly like the ’80s, despite its wealth of New Kids on the Block references. Watching this is like a mix of Stand By Me and Needful Things with a touch of The Mist, with a cast akin to The Pre-teen Breakfast Club.
King is also not shy to lay the exposition on thick too. The book ran well over 1,000 pages, which is why this movie doesn’t tell the full story. Perhaps that’s why this It also seems to drag on a bit too. The languorous pace does serve a fair bit to heighten the tension and make the atmosphere expectant. It also makes you wonder when things are actually going to happen. Of course, lots does happen and it is likely to please those who came for the chills and thrills. For myself, I went to bed hoping I didn’t dream of scary clowns.
That being said, I thought that the first act showed too much of the evil Pennywise’s hidden talents. It detracted a bit from the climactic showdown but only on a minor level. It still floats and kudos should abound for the dramatis personae, kids and clown alike.