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Year : 2017
Country : United-States

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DokBrowne  [ 9.5 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

A monstrously becoming extravaganza, a certifiable event in horror cinema (when was the last time?), the new "It" feels like an evolutionary step forward for the notoriously troubled genre - not just a quickie one-note "boo!" ride like most fright flicks that come to theaters, nor a dour colorless marathon of half-measure mood building like a lot of these ghost movies lately, this serves as one of the finest examples in a growing trend of ingeniously pliant mainstream blockbuster filmmaking, as seen primarily in the entertainment juggling acts of the best Marvel films (and in this case on a relatively dirt-cheap budget of $35 million no less).

It aims at a myriad of quadrants - adapting cherished (and dauntingly enormous) source material, remaking a sort-of cult classic, capitalizing on that increasingly universal dread of clowns, telling a fantastic story that isn't just a string of jump scares, introducing not just a couple of likable leads but seven memorable and three-dimensional protagonists (to be fair, Stanley and Mike remain a bit underdeveloped, but that's not bad), nailing down a specificity of time and place that always makes movies more effective (as well as including that fix of '80s nostalgia that we all continue to crave insatiably), working in coming-of-age themes and a cornucopia of primal childhood fears that we can all relate to, depicting adolescence in an authentic way, having the brass confidence in itself to frequently offset the horror with a big sense of humor, and of course scaring the fucking pants off of us with nightmare imagery and perpetual creepiness - the breadth of ambition here would be admirable in itself even if none of it worked, but then the movie also miraculously excels at ALL of these angles, forging the rare wholly satisfying unassailable popcorn super-film.

Perfect film? No, they never are, so let's get the henpecking out of the way. That roaring musical score, most noticeably in the first half, is excessive, like it's trying to do the whole movie's job entirely on its own. It sounds like we're on the runway of an airport even when the camera is just pointed idly at a sewer drain. The humor provides wonderful levity most of the time, but a few instances of it hit bum notes or come at the wrong time. The script could have explained Pennywise's competence better - I get that he gets off on scaring his victims instead of just butchering them right away, but how does a clever, shape-shifting, omnipresent, mind-warping inter-dimensional creature fail so many times at capturing his prey? That phrase "plot armor" is still pretty annoying to me (I'll get used to it), but all the main characters in this movie have infinite reserves of it, which starts to erode the suspense after a while. And transforming that iconic euphemism "they all float down here" into a literal fate was rather unnecessary. For the purposes of maximum disturbance, I'd rather never see nor know exactly what Pennywise does with the children he captures.

Yet there are two major obstacles that the new "It" has either already been criticized for or is bound to be subject to forever that both deserve a proper defense:

1) is Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise as scary as Tim Curry's? The 1990 miniseries had far fewer resources to work with, so it's powered by suggestion, the cognitive dissonance of a clown appearing all around town and performing unsettling deeds like digging graves and such, and simple images like close-ups of his fangs or a bunch of shower drains stretching out of the wall like spider legs. Also Tim Curry is the fucking best. Probably because we've seen this sort of thing plenty of times since 1990, it doesn't alarm the senses so much anymore, but that's not to take away from the brilliantly calibrated gamut of facial expressions, body language, and CG-assisted contortions that Skarsgard brings to the role. It's hard to really scare us jaded pop culture consumers these days, but 20 years ago or more, any one of Pennywise's appearances in this new movie would have scarred us for life. The performance and the filmmaking technique around it are sensationally orchestrated.

2) is there too much CGI this time? / do his hauntings throughout the movie become repetitive? No, and no. Go watch the first "It" if extensive special effects work is a nuisance to you. It's barely got any. Here they employ a skilled rendering of and creative variety to his inhuman terrorist ploys, providing more wild, bombastic jolts than you normally get from three horror movies combined, and all while weaving a plethora of narrative threads around these moments, so it never comes off as overkill.

Again, "It"-2017 is such a hybrid of masterful, gratifying cinematic pomp that it occupies a class of its own. Have I even mentioned the artful cinematography or the surprisingly fluid, star-is-born child performances from Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Finn Wolfhard (finally in an '80s-set horror hit worthy of his charisma)? Or the candidly R-rated dialogue and violence? You might've been lucky to get at most one or two of the virtues listed in this review from a horror movie before, but a huge adept swirl of them all in one experience is unheard-of. Not to get too hyperbolic here, but I'd say this isn't just a banquet for horror movie patrons, it's Best Picture material. Beautiful filmmaking and nonstop genre consummation. Here's hoping part 2 fixes that giant-spider dilemma!

Weighted Rating : 7.2
No. Ratings : 1
No. Reviews : 1

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Ranked by Rating
2017 3
2010's 60
All-time 1810

Ranked by No. Ratings
2017 9
2010's 477
All-time 7803

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