Through all the 1980s I was a huge fan of Stephen King, avidly gobbling up everything of his that I could get my hands on - the paperbacks just couldn't come out fast enough! It was only in the ensuing years that I realised that there was a correlation between his most effective and memorable stories and the length of his novels, viz that the shorter the work the better it was - more effectively chilling and much more mind-retentive.
'It' is one of his really looooooooong books. Furthermore, in this story the malignant force is a shape-changing entity, and whenever anything of this kind is used I always think it blurs the focus too much. However, the novel does have an absolute cracker of an opening, one of his very best - and I clearly recall when reading it being disappointed that nothing else in this voluminous work comes anywhere near the shock of that start.
I've seen probably all the cinema adaptations of King's works, though none of those made for TV (thus never having seen 'Salem's Lot', which is regarded by many as having been the best adaptation of them all). I did like the feature film of 'Carrie' though not so keen on 'The Shining', revered by some and which did have some outstanding moments but for me was badly let down by its dullish final pursuit of the boy and its tacked-on concluding shot, even though Stanley Kubrick was and remains one of my two or three all-time favourite directors.
Set in Maine, though largely shot in Canada, this film version of 'It' splits off that part of the story dealing with half a dozen schoolkids, holding out the expectation that there'll be an 'It - Part 2' featuring these same characters some 30 years on. Probably a wise move, methinks.
These brattish kids, early teens at most, all boys but soon joined by an older girl with an incest-inclined father, are quite unable to compose a sentence without describing something as "shit" or "f*ckin' this"/"f*ckin' that". (In addition, being boys of that age in a gang there must, of course, be the 'regulation' scene of shoplifting!) As you'd expect, these boys, including the usual overweight one, are taunted and threatened, sometimes assaulted, by an older gang of even more repugnant youths.
One of the younger clan had a little brother who had disappeared the previous year, now presumed dead, and it was his disappearance to which I referred as being the stunning opening of the novel. One by one the boys (plus the girl) get visitations from a malignant force, personified by a circus clown named 'Pennywise' (Bill Skarsgard - the film's only name I recognised, at least through his surname being one, another one, of Stellan's sons). The clown sometimes changes into other figures either as an individual or in multiplicity, but always reverting back to its original guise in the clown figure - fairly creepy, but I have seen scarier clowns, like in a real circus when I was a kid.
The appearances with changes of manifestation is the excuse for a range of special effects, which I thought were okay, sometimes actually rather good, though where this film has been criticised it's often been on the inferior standard of these effects. As I say, I found they passed muster.
Some of the film's many 'shocks' are down to no more than a loud report or thud on the soundtrack, which I regard as cheating - though most of them accompanied sudden unexpected visuals or frenzied action. Even if I did jump at times it was all pretty formulaic.
I thought at two and a quarter hours the film is far too long for its own good. I caught myself yawning after the first hour. I dare say that I will be going along to see any sequel that comes out, though with no great sense of anticipation.
Argentinian director Andy Muschietti does a reasonable job with his material, though there isn't really much scope to do anything far removed from the story as written. That would have outraged too many King fans who must number in the scores of millions.
The film was to a large measure what I'd been expecting. For lovers of horror it ought to fill the bill, but for me it was no great shakes...............5.
2 hours ago