Screenplay by Chase Palmer & Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Directed by Andy Muschietti
The other night I was fortunate enough to be present for a press screening of the It movie and I loved nearly every second of it. This will be a spoiler free review followed by a more in-depth review in a few days.
The film started off a little rocky but everything seemed to be there including a touching older brother scene between Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) Denbrough that pulled at my heart a little. Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) makes his first appearance as a whimsical clown that is almost endearing until the moment he is not.
As a fan of both the book and the miniseries, featuring the malevolent Pennywise, I thoroughly enjoyed this R-rated version. All of the vulgar banter between the boys was finally on screen and they played off each other so well that it really felt like the book. It was especially fun to watch 80’s period piece veteran, Finn Wolfhard, of Stranger Things fame, as Richie (Trashmouth) Tozier. Seeing these kids interact was something I don’t believe audiences have really experienced since Stand By Me.
Now for some of the fun stuff:
There’s swearing! Lots of creative and wonderful swearing!
This film built up great suspense and had some fantastic jump scares! The girl sitting beside me actually let out a long blood-curdling scream at one point and several smaller screams were heard from her, as well as other audience members throughout the screening. I even jumped at one point. None of the effects stood out as overly fake and the ambiance was fantastically paired for a modern monster film.
There were Dead Lights.
I was a disappointed that the classic monsters weren’t included; however, there were some fun substitutes. Since they moved the time the story takes from the late 50’s to the late 80’s it makes sense that the left out this part. Those early monsters would barely register in the decade of Freddy and Jason.
For the most part, I think fans of the book will enjoy that the way the kids interact is very close to how they were written in the novel.
Now, the elephant in the room:
The only black member of the Loser’s Club, Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), had his role obscenely shortened and some of his most significant contributions to the story were given to a white character, Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor). This bothered me during the screening and I haven’t been able to get over it since. I intend to go into more detail in my full review, but for now, I’m bringing up this issue without spoilers. I would truly have like to see more of Mr. Jacobs there was an intensity to the way he presented Mike’s fear that was unnerving.