Stephen Kings 'It': The Movie
Disclaimer: This is not a 'review'. I am going to assume that anyone reading this will already be well aware of what Stephen Kings “It” is, and what is about, either because of the book, or the 1990 TV mini series. This is simply a run through of my own thoughts and opinions on the theatrical release.
In this writing, I do not believe I have divulged anything too spoilierish, if there is even anything that could be considered a spoiler to begin with. I have gone out of my way, ignored a few things and been rather vague, just to remain as spoiler free as possible.
Finally, I'm also well aware of the fact (yes 'fact') that I am going to be in vast, vast, VAST minority here. There's going to be me, my son, and like maybe one or two other people in the world who will agree with anything I say here, and that is ok with me. And with that said...
I am going to come right out and say this at the start; I hated this movie. There, I said it. Yes, I loved the TV mini series, and no, I have not read the book (at least not all of it). However, I absolutely was NOT going into this to hate it, nor was I going in to compare it to the mini series; if I had done that, I would have absolutely not paid money to do so. I would have waited for Redbox or Netflix, or skipped it all together.
I actually wanted to enjoy this film, and even thought I would. Sure, I made a joke on Facebook going in, a joke that would bite me in the ass afterwards. But that was what the humor was supposed to be in the joke; pointing out the futility of those who go in wanting to hate. I swear that was not the reality of the situation, which is why I made the joke in the first place!
Basically, before the movie started, I 'Checked In' on Facebook with the statement, 'Keeping an open mind... Keeping an open mind.... Keeping an open mind......' That really, truly was meant to be a joke, and I cannot stress that enough.
I can also honestly say that I went in completely disconnected from the TV mini series. In fact, I was actually rather excited to see what a theatrical release, with a hard 'R' rating, could do with this material. Sadly, for me at least, the answer to that was ultimately nothing, other than cursing (which got old very fast). Even in terms of gore factor this added nothing, though that is probably because of what I personally consider to be extremely poor CGI effects.
A lot of people have so far praised this film for it's CGI, and I do not get that at all. The CGI was terrible at the very best, and for every effect, I was constantly taken out of the moment due to how fake everything looked. At one point a character gets a limb removed from their body, and the effects were so laughably bad that I have seen cheap YouTube videos that were way more convincing (and that is not a knock at YouTube videos).
The film features an assortment of creatures that to me looked straight out of a video game. Now I love video games, but in a movie that is set in a live action environment, these creatures just looked out of place.
The villain of this movie, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, also had way too much screen time devoted to this jittery, cartoon inspired electrocution like seizure movement that had me thinking of Daffy Duck grabbing a power line. I for one do not find this 'trick' remotely scary, creepy or even interesting. I can't understand how this is meant to be intimidating in the least.
As for the performance of Bill Skarsgård as the title role, all I can say is that I was not sold at all, going in, or coming out of the theater. So for this one aspect, it's kind of a push, and that is actually fine. And in no way was I expecting,or even hoping for a recreation of Tim Currys performance. In fact, I'd have hated the movie even more if it had even felt like that was the goal. Tim Currys performance was very 'Tim Curry'. So I was actually looking forward to a different take on the character. Unfortunately, Skarsgårds performance just didn't do it for me at all, and actually took me out of the moment almost every single time.
Honestly, despite the movie being all about that character, that was the one aspect I wasn't concerned with because the rest of the characters should have made up for that, since they were going to be the true focus. Unfortunately, that is where the movie truly falls apart for me.
There was nothing wrong with the acting; the kids who play the main group of 7, the 'losers club', do a great job acting wise. It's just too bad that what they were given to work with was severely lacking.
I really hate to compare this to the TV mini series, but I have to. And when I do, I hope you will see why I have to. The TV mini series is about 3 hours from start to finish once commercials are taken out. The first half, which is what this is basically a recreation of, is about one and a half hours. I'd guess that at least ten to twenty minutes of that takes place in the movies 'present', revolving around the adult versions of the characters, which really only leaves maybe 70 to 80 minutes at best of actual screen time for the past.
That estimated 70 to 80 minutes does about a thousand times better of a job developing the characters we are supposed to root for than this TWO HOUR and fifteen minute film! By the end of this film, I knew almost nothing about any of these characters, as in their actual individual personalities, other than their superficial defining traits.
There is a kid with a stutter, a kid who jokes way too much, the germaphobe kid, the fat 'new' kid, and then the rest who really are defined almost solely on their race, gender or religion. The group starts as a foursome, who gradually add the remaining three as the story progresses. With each new entry to the group, it's just done because the script says 'add new kid here'. Not ONE of the introductions feel even remotely natural. Instead it's just, 'hey, here's a new kid for the group'. 'Cool'.
In the TV mini series, every time a character enters the group, it feels natural and understandable in the situations, and at no time did I ever not buy it. The TV version also does an amazing job at showing the connection between the kids and their bond. The theatrical version just tries desperately to get from one scene to the next, hoping that the audience will just accept what is thrown at them.
I have to wonder if the film makers just assumed that everyone watching this movie would go into it having already either read the book, or seen the previous version, so that THIS version would not need to actually develop these characters. I for one would have liked to have seen THIS version dedicate some time to showing the connection these characters were supposed to have with each other, and failing to do so made me simply stop caring before the end of the film.
I guess the film makers thought that repeatedly hitting the audience over the head with a 'trait hammer' was the same as actual character development, which it does relentlessly. Especially in the case of Stuttery Smurf, Jokey Smurf and Germey Smurf. Of course, Newbie Smurf gives quite a few licks from that hammer as well, and to be fair, Smurfette gets her fair share 'I'm the girl' time thrown in.
Now, as much as I disliked this film, there are a few positive things I'd like to say. As I already pointed out, I really did like the actual cast of the 'losers club', and I really would love to see them all again in a movie that has a fleshed out script. I will also say that I am rather curious to see how part 2 will turn out, simply because as most who saw the TV version will agree, the second half of that version is by far the weakest part. Although, for that one I probably WILL wait for Redbox or Netflix.
In closing, I would just like to say that it doesn't bother me at all that probably no one will agree with, or be bothered by, what I consider a massive lack of character development. I also don't mind that everyone else found Bill Skarsgårds performance scary, terrifying and/or intimidating. The fact that not once did I even budge during one of the many 'jump scares' (a lazy, but effected form of fright) though others screamed their heads off. Different strokes for different folks, right?
It does bother me however, that SO many people are praising the effects in this film. CGI has come a long way over the years, and when done right, CGI is extremely effective. And while this isn't 'Star Wars Episode 1' level of bad, it's still really awful, and I just hope and pray that Hollywood will strive to do better in the future, even though so many people loved it here.
Also, if there is anyone reading this who hasn't seen the movie yet, and enjoys horror flicks (or you read the book or saw the TV version), go out and see it yourself. I have a feeling you'll like it, since as I already stated, I am in the overwhelming minority on this film.