Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Run time: 135 minutes
The Lowdown: Holy ssssh…It
It’s official – It is one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King novel ever released. It is thrilling, terrifying and one of the most righteous blasts of 1980's nostalgia to arrive since we all took our first trip to the Upside Down on Stranger Things.
What’s truly refreshing about It is that it doesn’t try to cram King’s entire novel into a two-hour movie. It trusts its audience will be satisfied with a deep-dive into the novel’s first half, when Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Stanley and Eddie are still innocent children, mostly naïve to the dangers of the world.
Not only does it cement that there will be a follow-up film, but it ensures that the critical portion of the book, once the gang returns to Derry as middle-aged adults, will get the proper time and treatment that King’s wallop of an ending deserves.
Much like the retro-awesome Stranger Things on Netflix, director Andy Muschietti and his trio of writers, Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, play to the strengths of their young but ready-for-primetime actors, mixing in just the right measure of nostalgia and childhood terror, to make viewers feel that same sense of pre-teen wonder and creeping fear.
For Muschietti, It delivers on the promise shown in his 2013 debut, Mama, and he deftly navigates the hiccups that kept his first film from being an immediate cult classic.
The real breakout, though, is Bill Skarsgård, whose Pennywise is truly, skin-crawlingly terrifying. This isn’t an improvement on Tim Curry’s portrayal from the original television miniseries. It’s like an entirely new creation altogether, and Skarsgård transforms himself over and over, using his entire face and body with maximum range and dexterity, to deliver one of the best performances of its kind in any horror film ever.
The other refreshing (and groundbreaking) decision is to allow It to be a hard-R horror film. Instead of watering down King’s more gruesome moments, Muschietti and his writers pile on, delivering an unrelenting cavalcade of gore and stellar practical effects, mixed with just the right dollop of CGI, to keep you out of breath and off-kilter for the bulk of the film’s tremendous third act.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – No.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Pennywise, the most terrifying clown ever conceived.
Buy/Rent – Buy It.
The Foreigner (Universal, 104 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Jackie Chan joins the growing number of AARP action stars to deliver an unexpected hit by embracing their age as a key piece of character development, which makes the bone-crushing hand-to-hand combat that much more thrilling.
Chan has built a legacy around his rubber-faced fight reactions and elastic body contortions; he’s a live-action cartoon character in many of his earlier films, whether free-falling down the side of a building only to catch a rail with his fingers or utilizing an array of household objects to obliterate a gang of attackers in a seriously lopsided fight.
But The Foreigner is Chan’s bid for Taken-style ticket sales, and it works unbelievably well.
It also helps that Chan is paired here with a director, Martin Campbell, who knows how to properly stage and film action sequences, and he’s given a solid foil in Pierce Brosnan as a former IRA loyalist turned government official.
Despite acting for more than 50 years, Chan’s delivery of dialogue has never been his forte, and with a film like The Foreigner, he’s given a role that relies as much on his dramatic reactions as his ability to kick butt. He’s not going to win any awards for his emotional complexity, but he manages to make viewers feel his pain, which is enough to bridge the gap between action sequences.
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Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures, 78 minutes, Unrated, VOD): It’s difficult to review a film like Crazy Famous because while it’s not a great movie, it has some surprisingly strong performances. And while it’s not really funny for a comedy, it’s interesting enough to hold your attention. It also helps that Crazy Famous is barely over an hour long. Check out Creative Loafing Tampa Bay for BVB’s full analysis.