In brief: I have some notes, but I loved it.
Spoilers, for movie. And book.
Creepy enough, Bill Skarsgård was awesome, the kids were amazing, the highlights were the Losers in all of their glory which is as it should be. So yeah, I loved it.
I’m going to go ahead and say that I think I prefer Skarsgård as Pennywise to Tim Curry. I know I’m in the minority but this new version worked better for me. I think it was those little moments where he’d be doing his thing and then something would go off, like when he was laughing way too much with Georgie, or when he’s about to kill Eddie but then Bill sees through his tricks upstairs at Neibolt Street. That was truer to book It than Curry’s version – but I mean. They’re both really good at evil galactic clown, in the end.
Aaaaand so the notes.
Things I’m disappointed by but completely in vain because this is a movie and it can’t do things the way the book does them:
- I just really wish it had been set in ’58. I get why that would be a terrible choice for the movie but
- All of the details that got cut or that were breezed over. Obviously there wasn’t room for that here.
- I wish Stan and Mike got more hero moments. Even Ben got the shaft a bit, which surprised me. Again, that’s time constraints for you.
- Bowers wasn’t as much of a threat as he was in the book – even in the TV movie he was a more constant, threatening presence. That’s another one that’s probably down to time constraints.
Changes I like:
- Yaaaaay Hocksetter died early and we never learned any of the horrific details of his past and present
- Not that I like Mike as a slaughterhouse worker now (I mean come on) but at least we traded the wanton animal cruelty of the Bowers/Hocksetter dream team for “humane slaughter” for meat consumption. I guess.
- I don’t like that Bev’s dad is an actual rapist in this version but at least that way we don’t have to see an adult physically assaulting a child
Changes I didn’t like:
- I get it, but having Georgie pulled into the sewers rather than just outright killed in the gutter is a bit of a gruesome change and I prefer it the other way. Poor Georgie.
- Mike’s parents are dead now. Horrifically. Um. Why. They were the best parents of the group.
- The movie is a lot more upfront about Bev’s being sexually abused than it is about Bowers being a racist dick towards Mike. The implications are there, and I’m not saying we need Bowers screaming racial slurs at Mike nonstop as he tries to beat him to a pulp the way he does in the book, but I do think there was space to be a little more specific about the racism and the movie (and we all) would have benefited from it.
- Also Mike was the history buff of the group – I get that making it Ben is an efficient thing to do but I’m really, really hoping that part 2 doesn’t open on Mike the 40-year-old slaughterhouse worker. I need him to be a librarian and amateur historian still.
- Bill/Bev/Ben was too much of a thing and can we talk about it for a second
I really didn’t like that Bev was pulled into the sewers to be rescued by her friends. It works for the narrative but it makes her a bit of a damsel in distress. The saving grace here may be that she’s the one to figure out not being afraid of Pennywise, but it’s still a big set up for a Sleeping Beauty moment.
I was sitting there in the theatre thinking, “Oh god, she’s going into the deadlights. Just so that Ben can kiss her and wake her up.” And that is literally what happened.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am a huge fan of Bev/Ben.
Here’s a treat for you: a chunk of It by Stephen King.
Finally, unaware she was going to say it at all (and certainly not because it had any discernible bearing on the situation), Beverly said: “Thank you for the poem, Ben.”
Ben stopped laughing all at once and regarded her gravely, cautiously. He took a dirty handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his face with it slowly. “Poem?”
“The haiku. The haiku on the postcard. You sent it, didn’t you?”
“No,” Ben said. “I didn’t send you any haiku. Cause if a kid like me – a fat kid like me – did something like that, the girl would probably laugh at him.”
“I didn’t laugh. I thought it was beautiful.”
“I could never write anything beautiful. Bill, maybe. Not me.”
“Bill will write,” she agreed. “But he’ll never write anything as nice as that…”
“How did you know it was me?” he asked finally.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I just did.”
Ben’s throat worked convulsively. He looked down at his hands. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
She looked at him gravely. “You better not mean that,” she said. “If you do, it’s really going to spoil my day, and let me tell you, it’s going downhill already.”
He continued to look down at his hands and spoke at last in a voice she could barely hear. “Well, I mean I love you, Beverly, but I don’t want it to spoil anything.”
“It won’t,” she said, and hugged him. “I need all the love I can get right now.”
“But you specially like Bill.”
“Maybe I do,” she said, “but that doesn’t matter. If we were grownups, maybe it would, a little. But I like you all specially. You’re the only friends I have. I love you too, Ben.”
“Thank you,” he said. He paused, trying, and brought it out. He was even able to look at her as he said it. “I wrote the poem.”
Annnnnnnd I get that you can’t really do that, at least not easily, especially with kid actors, in a movie. But it’s just so much better and I reserve the right to be annoyed about it.
I also got the feeling that the part of Bill/Bev/Ben that was Bev having a major crush on Bill was kind of sidetracked, which tends to happen in love triangles such as these. There’s never enough focus on what the girl in the middle of the whole thing actually wants, because the movie is more intent on what both dudes want and how they go about getting it and how she responds to their attempts. So if this triangle had to be as front and center as it was, I would have preferred if Bev got to have an actual, relatable crush and wasn’t just responding to the boys’ feelings most of the time. But maybe that’s something that I can go on endlessly about once this comes out on DVD, and I can compare Bev’s crush in the TV version, this new version, and the book version, because that actually sounds like the most fun I’ll have next year.
Siiiiigh. But I liked this movie. Eddie Kaspbrak was the fucking MVP, though. Wow. Didn’t see that one coming.
PS: There was. A lego. Turtle. A lego. Turtle.
Does that mean.
In part 2.