It ★★★★

It is a film based on the first half of Stephen King's novel of the same name, which follows a gang of misfit kids, ironically naming themselves The Losers' Club, facing off against Pennywise the Clown, the manifestation of their childhood fears haunting their native town of Derry, Maine. I will start off this review by stating that I don't have a nostalgic connection to the 1990 miniseries with Tim Curry as Pennywise, nor have I read Stephen King's novel, so I will review it primarily as a film and not as an adaptation. My thoughts on the 1990 miniseries, which I saw a long time ago, although not as a child, is that I think it's a long slob that is either unengaging or just unintentionally hilarious. So I went into this film with fairly low expectations. It (2017) turned out to be a huge surprise, and it is among the better films of the year so far, in my opinion.

First off, the writing is amazing here. In terms of both story and characters, this is a film that does a good job at exploring the fears of each child, thus showing them to us as well-rounded characters with good and bad sides to them, but it also makes their fears ring true. While I wasn't always terrified throughout the runtime of the film, I could always have a sense of empathy with the things that frightened our characters. It was also great to see that the film showed us that the our characters' fears were instilled primarily by their parents in various ways meant to protect them, but also that this fear is what eventually becomes the fuel for their courage later on. In that respect, it should also be mentioned that the acting here is great as well. It's rare to see a film with so many great child actors, especially among our leads in The Losers' Club. Granted, some of them had proven themselves beforehand, such as Finn Wolfhard in Stranger Things and Jaden Lieberher in Midnight Special, but all these kids give great performances, and they never feel wooden or unnecessarily over-the-top.

But it is not just the story and characters that should be praised here. The cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, who has previously worked on films like Oldboy (the original, not the US version), and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was brilliant, capturing the beautiful vistas of Derry, but also complementing the atmosphere of the story brilliantly. The unusually bright summer scapes and dark, grey visuals of the darker places of Derry, created a great sense of perceived good and evil places that felt natural from the eyes of a child. I should not forget to praise the soundtrack either. How can I not love a soundtrack that has both New Kids on the Block, as well as an underrated song by The Cure in the form of "Six Different Ways"?

My gripes with the film are not many, but they do prevent me from giving It a higher rating. As much as I liked Bill Skarsgård's performance as Pennywise, I felt the film wasn't as creative with him as they should be. It might just be a pet peeve of mine, but why did we have to stick with the balloons as the only means of foreshadowing of his presence? Balloons are not scary! He's a shapeshifting demonic being, why not take advantage of that? It just felt like a wasted opportunity to me that they didn't show off more ways for him to conjure up fear in our characters. The bully characters also felt way too over-the-top for me, especially the lead bully Henry, as I sometimes struggled to not laugh at how silly he came off to me. I won't surprised if the actor, in a future project, gives off a performance as stupidly bonkers as Dane DeHaan in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I also thought that Stanley's character got the short end of the stick in terms of his character development, and most of the time, it felt like he was just there to be the token Jewish character.

In conclusion, It is a massive improvement on its 1990 predecessor in my opinion. It succeeds as both a horror film, as well as a coming-of-age film. I highly recommend it.

Patrick liked these reviews