Friday, September 29

It, Then and Now

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(This review contains some spoilers if you have zero knowledge of the story. You can avoid these by skipping the videos.) 

I'm a little late with my review of It, but I wanted to share it anyway.

First of all, the 2017 film can be taken in itself with no prior experience of the story, and it still holds up well. In general, I feel this is necessary. There should be no "you have to be familiar with the source material" prerequisite in order to enjoy a movie.

However. . .
While a viewer can easily enjoy It 2017 on its own merit, I do believe that having read the book - or, at the very least, having seen the 1990 version - will help engender more enjoyment of the story and how it is presented.

* * * 

- It the book was first released in 1986.
- I first read it when I was about 15.
- The made-for-TV movie mini series when it was aired in 1990, when I was 10. (Scared the living crap out of me and I loved every minute of it.) I watched that several times as I grew up, read the book when I was 15, and enjoyed that quite a bit as well.

* * * 

First, let's look at the 1990 mini-series.

The two most iconic scenes are: 
1.) The introduction to the story when young Georgie Denbrough meets Pennywise: 

This is perhaps the single most well-known moment in the entire It universe, on any media platform.

Now, when Georgie asks "Do they float?" (which is in the book), I have to chuckle because OBVIOUSLY they float, kid. The narrative stickler in me wants to have had Georgie at least maybe be shown with a balloon that was deflated or just dying out and he was bummed, so he'd care if the balloons were floating. But for a kid to just ask "Do they float?" is like if Pennywise said "There's water down here, too." And Georgie being all "Is it wet?" Dur. But, I digress. The line is in the book and it's an otherwise perfect scene and Tim Curry does it brilliantly. 

The second most well known scene that people will refer to, generally when referencing the brilliance of Tim Curry's acting, is when adult Richie Tozier has returned to Derry and is encountering Pennywise again for the first time. 

A lot of people make fun of the 1990 mini series, and surely, there is enough to mock. But it also does a great job at what it does do. I think often people forget that in 1990 the restrictions of what could be aired on TV were a lot tighter - in language, violence, and sex. In fact, back in those days, this was considered pretty mature content. Additionally, they told the entire story one long movie, so a lot of stuff had to be compressed.

All in all, I enjoy the 1990 TV mini series and yes, it still gives me scares at times. I believe that horror movies we watch as a child often have a bit of a hold over us more than those we see as adults.(Not 100%, but as a a general rule.)

* * * 

So how is It in 2017, anyway? 
Well, it's good.
It includes plenty of little easter eggs for fans of the book, and the creep factor is turned up to eleven. The child stars all perform well and are exceptionally believable as kids you could have known in school. 
This movie is a perfect example of where a good story becomes better for the influence of the technical departments, and in my opinion, it is in films like this where they deserve recognition for the role they play in creating the overall effect. 
(Remember when Speed won the Oscar for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing? Yeah, perfect example. I mean, I love Keanu Reeves more than the average person, but that movie would have tanked if it weren't for the brilliance of the sound team.) 
In It, the screenwriting is good, the pacing is excellent, but what really stands out is the lighting, the cinematography, the costumes, set design, make-up effects (and I'm not even talking about Pennywise's make-up, I'm talking about the general stuff.) The effect is full immersion back into the eighties for those of us who grew up as children during that era, and the way Pennywise's eyes, are done, the way he is lit - the lighting in general - is brilliant. 

The  movie isn't perfect, of course. It has a few things that were, I would say. . . overdone. Beverly's bathroom scene is actually done to significantly better effect in the 1990 version. As I was sitting in the theater watching the modern bathroom scene, all I could think was "Did they suddenly decide to bypass subtlety and go into a Quentin Tarantino film?" 
There were two other scenes that were perhaps, too big. Too much. My chief complaint though, was the bathroom scene. It does not, however, ruin the entire film. 

* * * 

The last thing I want to comment on is the differences between the 1990 film and the 2017. The first and main question I tend to get about the new one is - "Is it better than the old one?"
Well, yes and no. 
It is certainly scarier, and has much more production value. It is more violent, and has more gore. But is it BETTER? 
Well, it's hard to quantify. They are two different animals. One is a fairly small-budget made-for-TV movie from a time when the FCC had much more strident regulations than they do now. The second is a large-scale theater release with a much bigger budget and perhaps, more at stake.
In 1990, the story was "kind of" focused on the Losers Club heroes, but with Tim Curry as your villain, of course he's going to become the focal point, and he steals every scene he's in, making the audience clamor for more Pennywise
In the 2017 film, while Bill Skarsgård is amazing, the story is really about The Losers and their lives, and the story is about them.
The differences can be summed up as: 
1990 - Tim Curry has fun terrorizing some small town kids.
2017 -  Small town kids are terrorized by an evil 'clown.'

It's like comparing Heath Ledger's Joker to Jack Nicholson's. Different movies, different stories, different grit, different approach.
So is 2017 better? No. It is scarier, it has more production value, but it's also not really even the same genre of film-making. 

(Info below is for 2017 only.)

Grade: A-

Heads Up: Violence, Gore, Language, Scares, Awesome Nostalgia. 


  1. I was hoping you’d do this!! (:

    Movies we watch when we’re younger I think definitely tend to screw with us more, maybe because our little baby brains change much faster in a much shorter period of time than our adult brains do? Right? That’s science, right? Anyway I agree with you there. Tim Curry as Pennywise is hard-wired into my brain as, like, the basis for what “scary” even means. IT’s face is one and the same with words like “scary” or “nightmare,” all because as an asshole four-year-old I watched it from behind the couch while I was supposed to be napping. (My mom taped it on VHS when it came out, so I also associate Murphy Brown and Dustbusters with fear because she wasn’t that good at cutting out the commercials.)

    I also agree with you that the Beverly sink scene SUCKED SO HARD. It was absolutely more about the blood than anything else. I don’t know, it lacked some subtle terrifying undercurrent that the OG scene had. Honestly I sort of felt that way about the entire movie, HOWEVER: I was under the influence of 2.5 (OKAY 3) beers, so I was probably just numb to fear. I did think that Pennywise was incredibly well-done, and the kids were convincing.

    I haven’t read the book in years, but you’ve read it pretty recently right? Did you read it before or after you saw the movie? Did it make any kind of difference in your opinion?

    1. OH. Follow-up question, do you think they're making a sequel? I googled this question already but can't be bothered to actually read any of the articles. Thoughts?

    2. OMG, Thank you for your lovely comments!
      1.) I had heard that they were going to do a Chapter 2, but it was not "officially" confirmed. However, I did google it and on, they said it has been confirmed and the release date is Sept. 6, 2019. All my other google results talked about cast and such, so I am going to go with YES, and AWESOME!
      2.) Ha ha - yes, the commercials! I think we ruined our taping of it from watching it so many times.
      3.) I can totally see you as a little four year old peeking from behind the couch and being scared shitless. Actually, the Tim Curry association is why certain scenes in the movie "Clue" I still find a bit spooky. Tim Curry = love, humor, and terror all in my mind. :) Also when he played The Devil in Legend. 'Cuz you're like, "Um, he's the bad guy and I hate him and he's scary but also, I feel like I want to make out with him for some reason?" Also, Tom Cruise is awful.

  2. So, the first time I've watched the original IT was actually a few months ago, ha. I was afraid it was going to be too creepy but it was just like, oh. And the ending was like, omg Steven King can you never figure out how to end a story without it being aliens???

    But if I had watched that as a kid (age <13) it would have freaked me the hell out. I mean, Ghostbusters gave me nightmares!

    My husband went to watch IT, and I didn't go, again with the fear that it would be too creepy for me so I had him "scout" it out for me, ha.

    Also, my first introduction for Tim Curry was Clue, so he will forever be the butler to me!!!

    1. LOL, YES, THE BUTLER! I know everyone automatically associates him with Rocky Horror, and of course there's that, but for me it's more Clue.

      Yes, if I had seen the 1990 IT for the first time when I was anything older than 12, 14 or so, I would've been all eye-roll-this-is-so-lame. (And yeah, fucking aliens. I love Stephen King, but I just want good 'ole earth evil sometimes. *Shrug. Guess that's what other writers are for.) :)