IT was everything I expected it would be, just not what I was hoping it would be.
When the new release of IT was announced I went through a myriad of emotions. First I was trepidacious and concerned with how anyone could live up to the amazing performance of Tim Curry. Then I was irritated at the thought that yet again we get a remake that wasn’t asked for. Finally I became excited as teasers were released and King himself endorsed the version set to be released September 2017. Yes! If the author endorses an adaptation it’s most certainly got to be excellent, King never does this. I believe however, I should’ve stuck with only watching the trailers and kept that excitement instead of where I ended up. Disappointed. I spent most of the movie waiting for IT to improve and then waiting for it to be over.
The performances were not bad at all, all actors did their parts rather well. There was some fun humor that the first one lacked, although that was not to it’s detriment in my opinion. I felt the characters were rather one dimensional and lacked the community feel of 1990 IT. Instead of adding the additional conversation to Pennywise, a bit more focus on The Loser’s Club as a whole would’ve improved the overall feel for me.
What really worked about the first one was the subtlety of everything, a few words, a glimpse of terror, Beverly’s father and his obvious but subdued relationship with her; these are all things that contributed to creating an environment where fear was the name of the game. The group of outcasts bonding together tied the 1990 TV mini-series together for me and while I attempted to view the newest adaption as a standalone, my lack of enjoyment as such had me continuing to watch out of sheer curiosity. I have 2 ways I view a film, one is entertainment and the other is analytically. I attempted to view for entertainment however was only able to analyze as IT (2017) just came up short for me.
The Loser’s Club in Review
I do not care for Richie Tozier’s character in this version. He’s lacking the same wit as the initial portrayal and that has nothing to do with Finn Wolfhard’s acting, it’s the writing in this case. There’s a distinct lack of pizzazz that was written into the first IT adaptation that 2017’s lacks.
Beverly Marsh, Beverly Marsh, Beverly Marsh. Where do I begin? Acting was solid, character creation again, fell flat. Beverly’s character felt forced, as though they needed to spell out every struggle she experienced in a visual way. As she is cutting off her hair over the sink, that moment of “Don’t touch me again” and “I want to just hang out and be one of the guys” is demonstrated but didn’t serve any purpose. There were no issues conveying the trauma and social ostracization she experiences and her personality is clear without the hair-cutting. The film struggled too hard to deliver a message that Sophia Lillis could’ve demonstrated just fine without the extra focus. Lillis performed wonderfully.
Eddie Kaspbrak failed to be that over-mothered child despite the performance given by Jack Dylan Grazer. It was a fine performance however this was another case where a lack of meaningful scenes or dialogue detracted from the film’s overall feel. That impact as a sissy boy from the 1990 adaptation will continue to set the bar high and I see little hope for the second installation without that development in Kaspbrak in the current IT. Right or wrong, Eddie’s mother in 1990 IT served to further his character as being under an overbearing maternal figure and fearful. Without the same maternal figure, he appears less timid. This is only relevant as the entire concept of IT is a creature feeding on fear and Eddie’s is a readily available meal in the 1990 creation, serving to further IT’s characterization.
With Stanley the biggest thing I can say is the foreshadowing with dead lights was well done and at least set the scene for adult Stan’s role. I felt we could’ve used with more impact from that however that seemed to be missing in the bunch.
Finally Bill, Jaeden Lierberher really made you feel the angst of losing Georgie and his struggle to accept his brother was gone. I felt the time spent on Georgie needed to be spent on my overall criticism of this film, which I will get to right after my breakdown of Pennywise.
Bill Skarsgard created an excellent Pennywise. He was creepy and scary but again, the dialogue. What was once quietly eluded to and eerie with random jump scares became conversations and in your face. Add to this, that between teaser trailers and trailers all of the best startles were shown and what I was left with was a lot of conversation and CG that didn’t quite do it for me. That means regardless of Skarsgard’s performance, Pennywise was not enough to save what could’ve been an excellent translation.
What made The Loser’s Club a great foe for Pennywise and demonstrated why he wanted them so bad in IT (1990) was their character development. Individually and as a group. It also makes 1990’s very re-watchable because you connect with the characters. Even as an adult I can watch IT (1990) and find The Loser’s Club a group I can sympathize with and then root for. Simple scenes like the movie theatre served a purpose, you could see the group coming together and realizing they were stronger as a unit.
In a book one can explain all of this, however, film is left to what is shown. So much time was spent on Georgie and random jump scares that that imperative connection is lost. The connection that will lead them to be a worthy foe for an eternal evil. The 1990 Loser’s Clubs reaction to Pennywise individually and as a group was a great visual display as to the extent of IT’s evil. The juxtaposition between their bonding and IT’s desire to tear them apart served that purpose. Removing that, removed a crucial part of IT for me.
Originally published on Outright Geekery