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Went for Horror not Heart
I am sure part of my problem with this movie is that I am such a King addict, and IT is one of my favorites. The book had some problems, for sure, and the movie did a couple of things that I thought were an improvement.
But for the most part, this new movie wasn't a wonderful story about friendships and grief and terror and strength and survival, which made the book so good and memorable. It was just a horror movie with little character development, and cheap tricks. And that was a major disappointment
Specific problems I had:
1) There was NO reason to change it from 1958 to 1985, other than to capitalize on Stranger Things. IT lost a lot with that change. The 1980's were far less innocent. Some of the stuff from the 50's just didn't translate to what kids would do in the 80's (paper boats with parafin wax??? What house had parafin in the 80's?) And with that loss of innocence it makes far less sense that the kids would even see IT in all its guises. The whole point is that only small children who are still basically afraid of the boogeyman can even see him.
2) Tying in with that--the kids were aged from 11ish to 14ish. Kids just finishing fifth grade? Yes, you can believe they'd still be afraid of scary clowns, mummies and lepers. Kids who just finished their first year of high school? In the 80's? No. (Somebody said they weren't in high school--check Ben's yearbook. And classmate-- Henry's friend is driving.)
3) This Pennywise was almost too dark. Yes, he's a monster, but there's also this manic charm that he can use to lure kids. Skaarsgard is very good, but he's just terrifying. Little kids would be scared to death of him; they'd run away from him on sight, not be kinda interested. Tim Curry handled that brilliantly.
4) The casting of the kids was atrocious! Bev and Mike look like they're 17. Eddie looks 10. They do not in any way look like contemporaries. Bev was far too mature for the sweet romance to work and Mike was big enough to beat Henry up himself. Also, his backstory was just so weird with his parents being dead and the sheep killing. He didn't work at all, and he was such an important character--the lightkeeper.
5) They cut a lot of the kids' backstories and connection/friendship moments in favor of cheap thrills. And the special effects went the "jerky" horror movie route and looked really fake and dumb for a big-budget movie.
6) I hated what they did to Stanley's character. You won't have much empathy for him for the choice he makes as an adult because he's so unlikable as a kid.
7) Why on earth would the entrance to the sewers be underneath the Niebolt Street house? Just because the filmmakers needed a shortcut to include the spooky house? (Oy and talk about cheesy CGI--that house looked like a graphic you'd use in a Halloween party invitation!) And the way the kids acted in the house--getting separated twice--was just such lazy writing and was really dumb. (But the clown room was wicked cool!)
8) OMG they cut Eddie's most important line?! (battery acid) Does that mean adult Eddie doesn't get to reprise that moment?
Okay, there were a couple of things I really DID like:
The scenes with Bev and her father were horrifying and so tense I was clenching my fists. He was the most terrifying monster in the film.
The "floating" (we all float) was finally done in a way that looked amazing and made the repeated threat make perfect sense.
All the actors were very good! I just didn't like the choices the writers/directors made with them.
Out of curiosity, I did just rewatch the IT miniseries. Yes, it's very dated. The soundtrack isn't great, the graphics are very miniseries-ish, and the special effects are laughable. And the adult portions were just okay--TV actors reunion. Yes, they were fine, but not standouts.
The kids, however, were standouts, and all the kids' sections were really good. Really good actors, amazing chemistry, age and era appropriate, they all looked the parts, looked the same age. Really, everything about the kids parts of the miniseries was superior to the new film if you look at it as just a really solid movie and not a "horror flick." It didn't have the scares, but it had the story, and the heart.
It's very possible the IT-2, adult part will be better. But despite its age, its cheesiness and its eye-rolling special effects, I think the 1st half of the miniseries was superior to the new movie.