It (2017) repeats the strengths and weaknesses of King’s original book and the 90s series. An unforgettable villain in Pennywise. A repetitive, predictable story flow.
It (2017) Synopsis
Seven-year-old Georgie Denbrough goes missing after venturing out during a storm to play with a paper boat made by his loving elder brother Bill. Months later, Bill is still deeply affected by the loss of Georgie while more children have gone missing. With his close friends and while evading local bully Henry Bowers, Bill then discovers their town, Derry, has an unusually high rate of missing persons. When they each start experiencing horrific illusions, they determine everything has to do with Derry’s grim history. Particularly a monstrous clown named Pennywise.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown has long been a favourite horror villain of mine. This is largely, no, I should say entirely, thanks to Tim Curry’s incredible portrayal in the 90s television series. Oh, fondly I remember those evenings when the series played on Singaporean TV. How I squealed and guffawed each time the malicious clown pranced and executed one of its outrageous illusions!
On the other hand, I really can’t express the same fondness for It as a story or as a book. I read King’s tome in 1993 and till today, I consider that as one of my greatest reading accomplishments. In my opinion, the story was outrageously repetitive and dragged out. I also greatly disliked the ending third which weaved a certain “cosmic” perspective into the tale. At the risk of offending King aficionados, I’d say It the book was in many ways Stephen King at his worst and most indulgent. He began a great story. It’s obvious he enjoyed writing it. And then he couldn’t stop and because the story became so wild, he also couldn’t contain it properly.
I mention these because watching It (2017) is like watching the summary of my reactions towards the franchise. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is one word, fantastic. A delectable, murky mix of comical, macabre, malevolent, and adorable. Like the cast in another famous King adaptation, Stand by Me, the kids in this movie are also sheer joy to watch. Here, I must add that if you enjoyed Netflix’s Stranger Things, you would definitely love the performances here. Other than the similarities in storytelling style, young Finn Wolfhard fully demonstrates his potential to be one of tomorrow’s most versatile, brightest actors. This is one rising star to follow.
At the same time, and like what I said about the book, the story flow demonstrates its weaknesses at every corner. There is a regimental feeling to it, as in that need to “get through” all seven back stories of the Losers’ Club. Following up closely are their respective scares by Pennywise. For me, this strict structure discounts the horrors of those hallucinations, and whether I know of the original story or not, I soon stop feeling any threat in them. To summarise, like the story, like the 90s series, It (2017) is really all about the clown. You watch the movie to love and fear Pennywise, and in between his appearances, there’ss a bunch of hyperactive, trash-talking kids to enjoy. As for the story, there is little surprise or emotion. Everything is as the book, overshadowed by a looming sense of obligation and structure.
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