The film adaptation of Stephen King‘s It has been a tough nut to crack. Many tried to adapt it, but the film spent ages in development hell. It even looked like Cary Fukunaga would be the one to make the film, at least until he left due to creative differences with New Line Cinema. Fukunaga still has a script credit in the film, however. After Fukunaga, Andrés Muschietti came in and then Bill Skarsgard was cast as Pennywise. A lot of people were skeptical about it, but in the end things have turned out pretty well for the film.
“Hi Georgie! What a nice boat. Do you want it back?”
There are many things that have changed in this adaptation. The story is now set in the late 80s (as opposed to the late 50s in the novel and late 60s in the miniseries) and there are some other changes made to the characters. There’s the case of Stan Uris, the book mentions he’s Jewish but in the film his father is a rabbi and he’s seen preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.
These changes also show in how It torments the kids. He doesn’t turn into movie monsters anymore. Most of the time he uses the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown but he also uses a couple of different ones, and those choices make sense.
There are also some parts that have been slightly changed or removed, some of them for the better (Yes, I’m talking about that scene, you know the one). And even though the removal of the turtle saddens me (‘See the TURTLE of enormous girth!’) the movie hints at it a couple of times. But all in all, this is a very faithful adaptation to the book.
“Welcome to the Losers’ Club, asshole!”
The kids are the real treat of this film. Seeing them slowly come together and embrace the Losers’ Club moniker made me very happy, and their interactions with each other is one of the most beautiful things of the film. Each of the kids gets a moment to shine, either through Pennywise tormenting them or because of their circumstances, but it’s a bit unbalanced at times. With only 135 minutes and seven protagonists it had to happen.
Sophia Lillis and Jaeden Lieberher stand out as Bev and Bill. But Finn Wolfhard steals the film, Richie Tozier was my favourite character and he made me crack up constantly. Ever since Stranger Kids I figured that he’d end up doing a lot of cool things and I’m going to miss him a lot whenever It Chapter Two comes out.
Now I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room. Pennywise and Bill Skarsgard. As much as I dislike the 1990 miniseries I will always admit that Tim Curry was the best thing in it, and that the way he played that role cast a long shadow. The film pays tribute to this legacy with an easter egg, but still Bill Skarsgard happens to step out of that shadow and in many aspects I liked his approach to the role more than Curry‘s.
“If we stick together, all of us. We’ll win.”
The film’s not without issues though. There are times where the CGI looks very wonky. Especially in the case of the woman in the painting. And like I said the film doesn’t give an equal focus to all of the Losers.
Sure, they all get a lot of screen time but Ben, Stan or Mike don’t feel as developed as Bev, Eddie, Bill or Richie. And the case of Mike Hanlon bothers me a bit, because in the book he was the one who did most of the research and in the film Ben is the one who does that with the excuse of “He’s the new kid, he wants to learn about Derry” and that makes me wonder about what kind of role Mike will have as an adult in the second part. I hope he still becomes Derry’s librarian.
In spite of these issues, the film is great. It is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to screen. I’m just hoping that the follow-up with the Losers as adults is as good or even better than this film. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for it.
Did you see the film? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker and video game player/designer.