Orlando and the rest of the Southeast was recently lambasted by Hurricane Irma, and we were very, VERY fortunate that it had calmed down to a Category 3 and lost strength as it crept up the country’s phallus. Millions are still without power, including civic infrastructure (you never miss streetlights until you don’t have them and realize not everyone knows what to do when they go out) and businesses. The islands were trashed, as the news footage has shown. Apparently Jose’s still out doodling around in the Atlantic, so until that goes away we won’t really be able to unclench and get on with things.
Happily my power only flickered, although I was without internet until Tuesday night and my yard was full of branches.
So fitting that one of my favorite stories involving a giant storm hits theaters just as a giant storm hits my state. ART IMITATING LIFE.
As far as IT goes, I enjoyed what was onscreen, but I can’t help but miss everything that didn’t make it, and lament some of the bigger changes. I’ll put these behind a cut to to avoid posting spoilers, but if you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss please jump in!
- The Casting – I thought the casting, with one exception, was perfect. The kids were great, and Bill Skarsgard took Pennywise and made him his own despite the pressure of having to live up to Tim Curry’s legendary performance. The only casting choice I didn’t like was Patrick Hockstetter – they changed him a great deal from the book description and I’m not sure why. The book PH was a DEEPLY creepy kid, the 2017 movie kid just seemed like a miscreant.
- The Setting – The 1980s is a good fit for the update. Nostalgia is an overarching theme for the book, and so it makes sense to move the setting forward to the 80s in order to engross modern audiences. I’ll be curious to see how Chapter 2 updates the material to the 2010s.
- Photography – The DP works with Park Chan-Wook of Oldboy fame, so the photography and visuals are strong and well-suited. Lots of great camera placement and moody lighting, but it’s a horror movie. We expect that.
- The Apocalyptic Rockfight – I love that this has been put onscreen, at last. It’s a great part in the book and worked very well cinematically. The music was a great choice, too.
- The Smokehole – I really don’t miss the bit about the smokehole and the kids seeing Pennywise arriving on a meteorite or whatever. I always thought that was King running out of ideas and being like ‘UhhhhhhhALIENS sure why not.’ Although they could have used the Smokehole as a window to some of the more recent atrocities, like the lumberjack camp massacre, the Bradley Gang Shoot-out, or the fire at the Black Spot. I definitely missed those bits, as discussed below.
- The Effects – I wish there had been less CG effects. When these occurred they gave the visuals a distinctly rubbery feel.
- Pennywise – At no point does Pennywise feel like anything but a menace. The entire reason that IT chooses the guise of a clown is to entice children and lure them close enough for him to attack, which he then does by changing into a horrific shape. He doesn’t always change into a clown, but it’s his ‘camouflage’ form; it’s a form that disarms adults who then dismiss him. Skarsgard’s Pennywise is sort of enticing to Georgie in the beginning, but any sane adult would respond to that sort of nonsense with an appropriate application of Mace. Don’t get me wrong – Pennywise is scary. But you’d never picture him as harmless. Fun fact: Apparently Skarsgard can really roll his eyes around in his head like that, it wasn’t an effect.
- Georgie’s Missing – The book (and I think the 1990 movie) make it clear that Georgie is dead. I think there’s even mention of the funeral. The remake has Georgie missing, with Bill trying to find him. I thought that weakened Bill’s character, because now instead of a kid dealing with loss, he’s a kid unable to let go of false hope and endangering his friends by involving them in his obsession.
- Mike Hanlon – I didn’t like the changes they made to Mike Hanlon. Mike Hanlon is a major part of the book, and he’s the one who puts together IT’s feeding pattern in Derry’s history. One of my favorite things about the book was Mike’s relationship with his parents (in fact, he is the only kid with a happy family life, a point that is stressed in the book). Mike, though his Dad, gets a firsthand account of the fire at The Black Spot, a Derry historical event that gets only passing mention in the movie. And that part of the story, along with the Bradley Gang Shoot-Out, touches on one of the bigger things that I’ve always thought was one of the book’s strengths: uncovering the dark, monstrous side of American history. Mike being sidelined in the 2017 version seemed odd, and I hope if there’s a chapter two he’s given his proper importance back.
- The Kids – At a few points, the kids start making speeches like tiny adults. Eddie Kaspbrak basically unpacks his unhealthy relationship with his mother when he leaves her to go help The Losers take on Pennywise. That point didn’t need to be belabored like that, it would have stood on its own if he he’d just left.
- The Bulls-Eye – I’ve no idea why the bulls-eye slingshot was left out. I missed it. Bev was the best one with it, and instead she gets fridged and sent into the Deadlights.
- We All Float Down Here – Maybe I missed the explanation, but the other kids floating around the junkpile – those kids are dead, right? Even if that’s so, wouldn’t the Losers tell some adults about all those bodies, so the families would have peace? Wouldn’t Bill, who just spent a hellish year wondering about the fate of his brother, and who made a speech about other kids wanting to be found if they were lost, do that? Instead we just flash forward to the next month.
All in all, I really did enjoy IT. I would encourage anyone who’s a fan of the book and 1990 version to see it, with the caveat that it IS going to be different.