Counter Movie Review: IT Was Alright
I love a good remake. Beneath the production office’s money-grabbing motive is usually a group of artists dying to put their own spin on an already inspiring piece of work. While I’m sure that may very well have been the case in “IT” (2017), “It” unfortunately did not float above the studio’s greed. Normally these executive decisions don’t lower the value of a movie as dramatically, but this is a special circumstance. They changed the nature of this movie on a fundamental level, and not for the better.
The glaring error that was made, and this is not a spoiler here because I feel like the audience should know this before going in, is that this is NOT the story of “IT” by Stephen King. It is in fact a SEGMENT of the story. While that’s true to some extent of every movie adaption of a book, it’s particularly galling here because this was not what was advertised. An hour and a half into the movie I looked at my watch, realizing that this has a 2:15 run-time and less than half of the story had been told. Immediately I knew there was a To Be Continued coming, and sure enough at the “end” of the film came the true title-screen “IT: Chapter One”. Not telling the whole story is not the “shocking twist-ending” that they were going for. It is, what is referred to as, a “dick-move”. It’s akin to selling tickets to get into an all-you-can-eat buffet, but also charging individually for each item once the customer is in there. You should be able to go into a movie expecting the bare minimum. If I wanted to be teased I’d watch the trailer on a loop for two hours and save myself the movie ticket price.
Here’s where that one error became multiple flaws. If you look at the fact that the original ran only 45 minutes longer than the remake, and the amount of superflerary scenes in the remake, you realize that making this as one film, while certainly a challenge, definitely would have been doable. By passing that up in favor of double box-office releases, “It” missed out on the best thing the story had going for it: it’s structure. The story is actually two-stories that run parallel 28 years apart. While certainly a chilling tale, if you don’t suffer from coulrophobia it’s not particularly horrifying (talkative monsters aren’t quite as scary as the strong silent types). So how does this story gain such fame and fortune? It has an amazing story structure. Penned by Stephen King, this is no surprise. He tells these stories simultaneously. While flashbacks are an often misused tool, he actually mastered their use in this story, making for a most compelling narrative (this is the man who made a story of kids just sauntering through the woods on a nice summer day intriguing after all). When they broke this story into two different movies, one of the past and one of the present, they cut the legs off of the screenwriter and director and took away their ability to mimic King’s structure, limiting the overall effectiveness of the movie.
That being said, the movie wasn’t a total loss. Good kid actors are hard to find, and some of the best movies are dragged down by them (*cough cough* Edward Furlong *cough cough*). This was the best cast of child actors since Stranger Things (unsurprisingly, there is a member in the center of that particular Venn Diagram (Finn Wolfhard)). Capable of showing real emotion on the big screen at such a young age is a rare gift, and kudos goes to the casting director who found seven of these diamonds in the rough.
They still paled next to Bill Skarsgard though. It’s not easy to fill Tim Curry’s oversized clown shoes. Watching his performance makes you want to shower to clean yourself of the creepiness. Watching the youngest of the Skarsgard clan you’ll want to give your eyes a silkwood shower. Being a monster isn’t easy (Willem Dafoe just makes it look that way), but Bill’s surprising athleticism, patience, vocal skills, and really really weird control over his eyes make him the creepiest clown in town.
Overall, my recommendation would be to wait for it to come out on digital, then invite a few friends over to rent it. Try to make up for being forced to pay twice just for one story.