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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

It movie review: a series of unfortunate events

It red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
The Goonies, Stand by Me, and Poltergeist went into a blender with a pinch of E.T. and John Hughes to smush into a mess of retro 80s mush.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): big Stephen King fan
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Oh my god, you guys, this is amazing! Did you know that Chris Columbus made an It movie in the 1980s? How did they keep it secret? How did it never get released? It’s minor 80s, not anything that would have made a huge splash, but still: someone dug it up and now it’s on our big screens! I hope they do a faux VHS cover for the home release… or maybe even a VHS itself. (They could get whoever designed the Stranger Things logo to do it!) That would be so cool.

Wait, what? This isn’t a found object from the 80s? It was actually produced now?

Wait, what? This It isn’t a found object from the 80s? It was actually produced now? How… how is that possible? It’s too straightforwardly 80s to even be a pastiche. It has no sense that any time has passed in filmmaking, never mind in society at large. It’s like someone threw The Goonies and Stand by Me and The Lost Boys and Poltergeist in a blender with a smidge of E.T. and a pinch of John Hughes to make an 80s smoothie. Surely this is a movie intended to capitalize on the popularity of those movies. On the surprisingness of them. When they were new. Not to smush a mess of old-hat 80ness into a ball of retro mush, all the flavors running together till you’re not even sure if you’re actually watching one of those old movies.

“Guys, I thought this was the Stranger Things audition...”

“Guys, I thought this was the Stranger Things audition…”tweet

Maybe this It works if you’re looking for a hit of nostalgia. I was not. I have not seen the 1990 TV miniseries, nor have I read the 1986 Stephen King novel this is based upon. (I am a huge fan of King’s work and have read lots of his books, but this one passed me by.) So I wasn’t looking to recapture anything from the past. As ever when I see a movie adaptation of a book, or a remake or a reboot of some previous filmed version, I am hoping to see a movie that feels like there was a reason for its story to be retold onscreen now. How does a story created decades ago remain relevant to us today? Why have the storytellers gathered us all here at this very moment?

I don’t see that screenwriters Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman (the latter of the depressingly dull Annabelle movies) or director Andy Muschietti have found good answers to those questions. Clearly they understood the need to update King just a bit: the two-part plot of his book takes place in the 1950s and the 1980s, and this movie, covering the first half of the story, takes place in the 80s — late 1988 through the summer of 1989 — which means the already planned second movie, tentatively scheduled for a 2019 release, will be set today. Which seems like a reasonable thing to do.

🎶 Good enough for you is good enough for me... 🎶

🎶 Good enough for you is good enough for me… 🎶tweet

But merely shifting dates around is not enough. This 2010s-created 1980s-set tale is chock full of hoary clichés that instantly backdate this movietweet in a way that makes it seem like we’ve seen it all before… 30 years ago. Really, an all-boy gang of pals with The Leader (Jaeden Lieberher: Midnight Special, Aloha) and The Funny One (Finn Wolfhard) and The Scaredy One (Jack Dylan Grazer) and The Fat Kid (Jeremy Ray Taylor: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip) and The Black Kid (Chosen Jacobs) and The Jewish Kid (Wyatt Oleff: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)… And then The Girl (Sophia Lillis)! A Cool Girl, of course, who becomes one of the guys, yet also someone for all the guys to worship and adore and later rescue just when coming to her aid will bring a now-fractured bunch back together again? Seriously? Surely there was a way to adapt King’s characters in ways that didn’t render them as stereotypes, and their adventures and friendships as rickety rolling stock rattling over well-worn rails.tweet Surely there was.

Boiling an enormous novel down means a lot gets left out. Maybe this wasn’t screaming to be a movie.

Boiling an enormous novel down to even two movies means a lot has to get left out. (Though, you know, maybe this wasn’t screaming to be a movie, or even two.) As a fan of King’s work, I have no doubt that his 1,000-page-plus novel fleshes out these kids and their fears in ways that are riveting. We need to know who they are, what scares them, and why — we need to feel it in our bones the way that they do — if the mysterious supernatural entity that is terrorizing them is going to resonate with the viewer. And that never happens here. We barely get to know these kids… and so for its full first hour, It is just random creepy visions menacing a bunch of junior-high-schoolers on their summer vacation, a familiar collection standard funhouse boos: a scary basement, a rundown haunted house, clown dolls, zombies, and so on. This evil entity — which often takes the shape of the sinister clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård: Atomic Blonde, Allegiant) — supposedly is attuned to the fears of children and can morph itself to inspire maximum fright, but his threat never feels anything other than purely physical.

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?tweet

Not much that happens builds on anything else: there’s no sense of momentum to It. It’s just a series of unfortunate eventstweet in the small town of Derry, Maine — one of King’s fictional locales — that are arbitrary and unconnected. There is no atmosphere of creeping danger even though children keep disappearing: the kids themselves comment on how none of the adults really seem to notice. There’s no atmosphere of any kind, in fact, no ambiance.tweet This town should feel under siege, and instead of something ominous in the lack of that, it merely comes across as a lazy oversight on the film’s part. Everything is disjointed: at one point someone unexpected gets targeted by the evil entity and it seems like this bit of plot was imported from another movie. A psychologically incisive version of this story might make us understand that ordinary teenaged bullies and mundane abusive parents — as some of the kids are coping with — and hellspawn demons (or whatever the heck Pennywise is supposed to be; it’s not explored) are on the same spectrum of horrors for young people, metaphors for adolescence and confronting the adult world. Instead they’re merely a hodgepodge of stray unbranded nightmares.tweet

It is yet another painful example of a filmmaker from beyond Hollywood whose good work outside the studio system got him noticed… and then everything that made his work interesting got watered down so much that you wonder why Hollywood even bothered snatching him up. Muschietti’s previous film was the English-language Spanish horror Mama, a simple, elegant, sad movie about parental love and monsters under the bed. And now his It is little more than a generic banality.tweet

Click here for my ranking of this and 2017’s other theatrical releases.

red light 2 stars

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It (2017) | directed by Andy Muschietti
US/Can release: Sep 08 2017
UK/Ire release: Sep 08 2017

MPAA: rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong horror, violence, language)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Owen1120

    I read the book a couple weeks ago, and I would attest to it fleshing out the characters and their fears. Additionally, it doesn’t make Beverly a damsel in distress, and I’ve heard that in this movie Mike gets the short end of the stick, and a lot of his personality traits were given to Ben.

  • Jessica Hanson

    I’ve read the book too, and despite all the changes, I still throughly enjoyed this movie as the nostalgic little treat it is. In the book, Ben frequents libraries often, but it was actually ADULT Mike who was doing all the research (27 years later). So knowing that, they probably switched the two roles to: (1) provide some context and (2) mostly retain how the characters are in the book.

    And to the reviewer, yes, there were A LOT of changes. In the book, each character has a chapter (usually 50-90 pages) dedicated to him/her. I felt so connected to each of them. ALSO, the book dealt with heavy themes like racism and homophobia.

  • Matt Clayton

    I really didn’t feel that the movie was a hodge podge of various 1980s elements. (I haven’t seen “Stranger Things” so maybe that’s why.) The kids were pretty well fleshed out and had a good camaraderie.

    It’s a shame IT didn’t work for you, but your review made some good points!

  • Dr.Megan

    IT is an amazing novel. IT was an amazing movie! On to Chapter 2!

  • Josh Hanson

    Your review is a blatant example of critics
    trying to turn gold into crap because it makes you look smart. As soon as you said you never read the source material you lost all credibility. Had you read the book you would’ve seen that it did take readers back to the sixties and made them feel like kids again aside from the scares. This film changed the decade for the same purpose. It’s okay because it’s box office gold and we fans loved it so don’t quit your day job.

  • Kelvin

    “The Fat Kid”, “The Black Kid”, “The Jewish Kid”… Jesus Christ, just came to read this from Rotten Tomatoes. Are you the female version of Trump? I can’t believe someone so close minded like you exists besides Trump. That’s outright offensive to minorities and this is coming from a PoC.

  • Fred Frink

    Was there a “The Wheelchair Kid”?. This is coming from a non-PoCiaW.

  • Ketki Argade

    The movie is not at all good. It has no storyline. Please don’t watch (IT)..

  • King usually does deal with heavy themes. They’re all but absent here.

  • What did you find amazing about it?

  • turn gold into crap

    Or, just possibly, I think think it was gold. Astonishing thought, I know, but go with it.

    because it makes you look smart.

    What a bizarre accusation to make. I never pretend to be something I’m not, or to affect an opinion I do not have, and it would never occur to me to do so. What on earth would make you come to such a conclusion? Unless… is this something you do?

    Had you read the book

    But I’m not reviewing the book.

  • It *is* offensive! I’m glad you agree with me that the film reduces its characters to stereotypes.

  • Kelvin

    Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But it’s hard to understand how all you got away from those characters was their body shape/skin color/religion. What should we do? Pretend diversity doesn’t exist? Build a wall? I have a “”jewish friend””, a “”fat friend””. But they’re more than that and I wouldn’t use those terms to describe then pejoratively.

  • Dent

    People have opinions. that. are. different. then. yours.

  • Dent

    Sounds like they don’t get enough screen time.

  • Your friends don’t exist in this movie.

    It’s not what *I* got from the characters. It’s how the movie treats them.

  • Bluejay

    Your comment is a blatant example of someone whose fragile ego can’t take a dissenting opinion.

    As soon as you said you never read the source material you lost all credibility.

    Really? Do you read the source material of every movie you see? (If you think you do, think again.) And does that mean YOUR opinion of a movie is invalid unless you’ve read the novel/short story/graphic novel/play/TV show/older movie it was based on?

    It’s okay that you like the movie. It’s also okay that other people don’t. Grow up and deal with it.

  • Bluejay

    Look up the Five-Token Band.

    It’s not bad to want to represent diversity onscreen. But when it’s done by using age-old formulaic stereotypes, that’s worth criticizing too.

  • Some guy

    Movie based in the eighties but in the pharmacy scene there’s up to date soap and lotion with there 2017 logos and wrappers I think this movie was watchable but don’t expect it to be like the original which was amazing

  • Matt Northern

    By that logic overweight people, Jewish people and people of different colored skin cannot be allowed in movies
    I think you are being over sensitive about these “stereotypes”. The average movie goer doesn’t care about this.

  • Jessica Hanson

    You call them stereotypes, I call it representation. Also, they hint that Ben is bisexual in this — so there’s some LGBT representation too.

  • Matt Northern

    It’s unfortunate, but I find critics opinions really not helpful and kind of useless. No offense. I’m pointing the finger at the author here, I just mean this is what I notice in general.
    I notice better than half the time critics will have differing opinions on film than the general viewers. Critics are paid to be critical and find issues with movie to the point where I feel a movie has to be Oscar worthy for a critic to give a decent score. And That is crap.
    I find many critics write about movies they see that they hate the genre for. This creates a massive bias. Critics need to stick to specific genres they enjoy so they can measure there expectations appropriately. If a critic tes horror…dont write about a horror film. Again this is based on my personal experiences and not this author.
    All i know is info gives IT 8.3/10 and rotten tomatoes (a compilation of all critics/scores) have it 88% …and every other profeprofessional review I’ve read has had positive things to say about the movie with some but few negatives.
    The author here focused heavily and only on negatives and stereotypes. No policies which screams bias to me because she is so caught up and furious with stereotypes.

    Lastly, I completely believe that seeing the original is important. Not a must. But those who saw the original already have that connection with the movie before it even begins….something That would have been understandably absent for you since you never saw the original. So I dont think you lose credibility at all but you wouldn’t have had the same experiences as viewers who ar already fans of IT

  • Jessica Hanson

    Sorry, but I’ve got to disagree. I think this book addresses heavy themes of growing up too fast when placed in an environment of abuse (Beverly) and the adolescent fear of entering adulthood (all the mixed emotions and hormones!) quite well. And I’m not sure why you’re so offended that this film is trying to channel some nostalgia? That’s kind of the point — and it was quite obvious from the trailers that they were going to go full-on 80’s with this. I got what I paid for (and more), sorry that you didn’t. :-/

    But hey, Aronofsky’s “mother!” is out next week, and I hear it’s great! Maybe next week will be a better movie week for you. Good day, maam. :-)

  • Bluejay

    Or, consider that we live in a big world where many people (including many critics) may have an opinion different from yours, and they are entitled to write about it.

    If the RT score for “It” is 88%, does that still mean you have a problem with ALL professional critics, including the ones who gave it good reviews? Or do you just have a problem with the 12% whose opinion didn’t agree with yours? Does everyone have to like the same things you like? Does every film you like have to score 100%?

    Lastly, movies should stand on their own, and be reviewed on their own. Did you have to read William Blatty’s novel of The Exorcist or Mario Puzo’s novel of The Godfather before you decided if the movies were good? When you saw De Niro’s Cape Fear or Bale and Crowe’s 3:10 to Yuma, did you need to watch the older versions before you decided if it was good? When you watched SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, did you have to see the 1970s TV show before you decided if it was good? I’m not a Mad Max fan and haven’t seen the older films, but I absolutely loved Fury Road. Movies need to stand or fall on their own merit.

  • Kelvin

    Oh jeez, thankfully we have this white lady telling us what is and isn’t representation, of course she gets it. A “black kid” in a movie that’s mostly white??? Tokenism!!!! He should be playing around with his people.

  • Bluejay

    How about having more than one black kid? How about having the black kid be the leader?

  • Kelvin

    And what was formulaic about the losers club? There was nothing stereotypical about Mike (the “black kid”), I would actually argue on the contrary. He’s not there for comedic or to throw some slangzz.

  • Matt Northern

    I agree they should stand on their own merit but they dont always have to.

    And I never said that i have any issues with people not liking the movie…and yes everyone has the right to an opinion.
    My response was actually very neutral. My issue are with alot of critics…not All but alot of critics who focus on so mucb negative in a movie that it taints some people’s opinion about the movie before ever seeing it because that critic also never represented the positives of thr movie which may draw movie watchers closer.
    In this situation If the critic hates the movie there is going to be undeniable bias if you leave out what the film did well.

    Everyone has voice and everyone has the right to an opinion of course, but imdb, a website for movie watchers/general public everywhere have decided so far that the movie is 8.3/10.
    And i respect the differing opinions of everyone.
    But a good critic represents both what they like and what they hate…
    One or the other berates bias and taints viewer poi ions without getting the full appropriate information

    I’m just relaying observations I’ve seen over the years…not being hostile towards anyone

  • Bluejay

    What if the critic didn’t find anything to like? Do they have to make something up so they can appear “balanced”?

  • Matt Northern

    If a critic didnt like anything then there is a possibility that they are took critical or reviewing a movie in a genre they mostly don’t enjoy. And yes critics do that all the time.
    Some movies are bad enough to have absolutely nothing positive…which generally doesnt occur anymore.
    When was the last time you saw a critic give 0 stars. Only way you get 0 stars is with nothing positive to report on.

    Also of a movie is thaf bad then you most critics will agree with the poor rating …and there would be a flood of negative reviews

    To answer you question..
    The rare occasion that a movie these days is that bad that a professional critic cannot find even one positive to briefly talk about ….then that person has every right to report on the negative because that seems to be an accurate depiction of the film..
    Let’s face it 99.9% that isn’t the case
    Even bad movies have positives in it….
    You are talking about horrendously earth sheatterig bad to not have a single positive

  • Some guy

    Umm…I watched the original three times as a child and 3 times as an adult your reply makes absolutely no sense at all …I didn’t even say anything that bad about I just pointed out a careless mistake they made wondering if anyone else caught it

  • David Nathan Raveles

    Okay this entire review is complete BULLSHIT honestly.
    You can’t make a fucking review on something like this saying “I’ve never read the story nor have seen the miniseries” then go on to ask stupid ass questions.

  • Mal Peebles

    I agree. It seems as if the writer has a deeper agenda in her follow up comments than just to recommend whether we see a MOVIE or not. Feels so motivated by something else. Blah!

  • Heath Cowart

    This channel should get more views –


  • amanohyo

    So, are you claiming that in order to enjoy this movie, it’s necessary to have both read the (1000+ page) book and watched the miniseries? Or are you saying it’s impossible to review any film if you haven’t read the source material and watched all the previous adaptations? If the first is true, this isn’t a very good movie, if the second is true, then you’re placing an unrealistic burden on critics. MA has been pretty clear in stating that she believes a great work of art, while being enriched by its historical and canonical context, should also be able to stand on its own and draw newcomers in.

  • amanohyo

    Ugh, it’s like finding a wad of chewed gum on my favorite sneakers.

  • Tonio Kruger

    She’s reviewing the movie, not the book. And people who make Stephen King novels into movies have been known to take liberties with the actual characters and storyline. Just compare Stephen King’s version of Carrie with the two theatrical movie versions or King’s version of The Shining with Stanley Kubrick’s version.

  • Tonio Kruger

    You mean Ben isn’t Glory?

    Sorry. Obligatory Joss Whedon reference.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Like what?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    He spent a sizable fraction of that video not understanding* what MaryAnn was getting at with the first paragraph and a half. So, no, he doesn’t need more views.

    *I’d be generous and say “deliberately” here, but the premise of the channel is a little too fanboi-ish for generosity.

  • hoover2001

    Thankfully, one of the changes they made was taking THAT chapter about Beverly and the boys out. God, what was King thinking?

  • Jonathan Fallert

    Even though I saw the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it, I understand that people’s opinions are completely subjective. However, It’s very hard to take it seriously when a reviewer opens their review with two paragraphs worth of self-indulgent snark and sarcasm. It seems like they spent more time trying to appear witty and ‘edgy’ to their readers, than they actually spent thoughtfully considering the depth and pure entertainment value of the movie itself. The only real idea that I could come away with after reading this review, is that the author absolutely loathes any type of nostalgia, and that all of history pre-1999 is inherently uninteresting and boring.

  • Josh Hanson

    Had the review been based on the movie’s interpretation then you’d be correct but the review is based on what they didn’t like that comes from the book which they didn’t read. Pay attention and stay in your own lane. Each critique was something the movie stayed true with the book but they didn’t even read the book lol do this is like a book review with PC critiques all over it because the movie did the same thing. Don’t like the movie – fine don’t like the book fine, but don’t write a review based on the one dimensional things you hated. Dig deeper Watson or I’d fail your report.

  • Josh Hanson

    No it doesn’t!! Only because you are looking at a film based on a story written when these stereotypes existed in story form.

  • Bluejay

    the review is based on what they didn’t like that comes from the book

    Whether it “comes from the book” or not, it is IN the movie. She’s reviewing what is IN the movie.

  • Bluejay

    So you’re saying the stereotypes exist in the story, and the film keeps those stereotypes? You’re basically agreeing with her, then: the characters in the film are stereotypes.

  • Josh Hanson

    Hmm okay let’s do this for Lord of the rings- I never read the book so I’m going to bash the movie – I think Sauron wasn’t in the movie enough. He was an intriguing villian but all we got was snippits. Where was the character development? And Frodo had to take the ring why? That makes no sense. Anybody else stronger and more able couldve done it. Should I go on? I’m bashing the movie not the book aren’t I? NO I’m bashing the story itself that was written and then adapted. She’s basically out of her league with this story. The things she didn’t like weren’t from the movie, they were plot devices from the original story and that’s where I called her out.

  • Bluejay

    If you feel Sauron wasn’t in the movie enough, then make your case. And if you think that a movie has bad writing, why would you change your mind if you found out it was from the book? Wouldn’t you just think it was bad writing in the book, too? Bad writing is bad writing, whether it’s done by the script adapters or by the original author. Or is a book somehow this magic thing that is all-good and can never be questioned?

  • Dude

    Mary is a old bitch that doesn’t have an ounce of fun in her entire being.

  • Josh Hanson

    Okay you obviously didn’t get my point.

  • Bluejay

    So, explain it to me. What I got from you is that she’s not being fair in her criticism, because what she doesn’t like about the film is actually taken straight from the book. But why does that invalidate her opinion? If she didn’t like something in the movie, and it’s from the book, then she probably wouldn’t like it in the book either. Why does that make her wrong? Because Book = Good? If it’s from the book, she can’t complain about it? Tell me what I’m missing.

  • Jessica Hanson

    SORRY, TYPO. I meant the MOVIE deals with the themes of growing up etc.

  • Jessica Hanson

    Thanks for pointing that out. It was a lapse on my part. I was talking about the book in that previous comment.

  • Jessica Hanson

    The whole chapter was italicized, so I’m going to assume that it was a metaphor for a group hug. :-)

    …if it wasn’t, I don’t even know.

  • Jessica Hanson

    Maryann, looks like you’re getting some free marketing. Yikes.

  • Jessica Hanson

    She doesn’t seem to be a big fan of nostalgia. Refer to her reviews of: The Guest, It Follows, The Nice Guys etc. All critically acclaimed films, all panned on this site for *that reason* and some others. Anyway, to each his own. :-)

  • Hannah5413

    How does a story created decades ago remain relevant to us today? Well we still read poems written by Shakespeare. We read century year old poems and you complain about Stephen King wanting to modernize his movie because back then, the TV miniseries had limitations to what they could show on television. This artical is very biased and negative over the fact that you yourself was not pleased with the movie. You say you are a big fan of King. yet, you barely understand one of his most popular novels. The old movie lived on because most children grew up remembering Pennywise the clown. We were afraid of him, because the parents could not help you. That alone is terrifying.

  • Danielm80

    Or you could read her reviews of Mindhorn and Landline, retro films that she praised earlier this year. She even mentioned nostalgia in her very positive review of Mindhorn.

  • I’m not sure why you’re so offended that this film is trying to channel some nostalgia

    I’m not. I’m offended that it’s not doing much more than that.

    Aronofsky’s “mother!” is out next week, and I hear it’s great!

    I hate that movie with the fury of a thousand suns. Review coming soon…

  • I’d fail your report.

    You’re not my teacher.

  • I’m bashing the story itself that was written and then adapted.

    Um, yes. And that’s fine. Some adaptations work, and some don’t. Some stories work, and some don’t.

  • That’s nothing like what I said, but thanks for playing.

  • Look up the Five-Token Band.


  • And what was formulaic about the losers club?

    Everything! It’s entirely standard, *especially* across 80s movies.

  • The average movie goer doesn’t care about this.

    Spoken by — judging from your name and profile picture — a white man.

    Hint: You do not speak for the “average movie goer.” *You*’re not even the “average” anything.

  • Toby Kirkby

    Ironic, a critic who can’t take criticism.

    Your review was banal and lacking any structure or wit, a mish-mash of vox pop third party opinion pieces with predictable and now overdone hyperbole “ET meets stand by me et all”.

    A King fan who has not read IT is about as useful reviewing this movie as a Jaws fan who has never seen a shark.

    The books 50s setting is a mish-mash of what was popular at the time, the movie’s 80s setting is no different This movie is not a blender of 80s tropes be intent. One can not make an 80s set project without those lines being drawn, the 80s are iconic and you have automatic associations.

    King loves the movie and loves the updated timeline to being it more current, if anybody has the most valid opinion, it is him. But you seem to believe that you know better.

    Your review gets 6/10. A good try but lacking substance and with far too much personal bias attached.

  • I find critics opinions really not helpful and kind of useless.

    Then why are you wasting your time here?

    Critics are paid to be critical


    find issues with movie

    Nope. Try again.

    where I feel a movie has to be Oscar worthy for a critic to give a decent score

    Or, you could peruse some of my other reviews for an instant refutation of this suggestion.

    Critics need to stick to specific genres they enjoy

    Bwahahahahahahaha! That’s not how it works.

    If a critic hates horror…dont write about a horror film.

    Or, a critic who generally doesn’t like horror will occasionally enjoy a horror movie, and her readers — particularly those who also do not enjoy horror — will find value in the fact that every once in a while, she *does* enjoy a horror film.

    Lastly, I completely believe that seeing the original is important.

    Oh, so are you asking all the critics who have given the film a positive review whether they have seen the original, and read the book, and will you discount their reviews if they have not?

  • Toby Kirkby


  • Being bias only services themselves

    The word you’re looking for is *biased*… and everyone — including professional critics — is biased. Yes, even you.

  • Also of a movie is thaf bad then you most critics will agree with the poor rating …and there would be a flood of negative reviews

    Critics are not a hive mind.

  • a deeper agenda [snip] than just to recommend whether we see a MOVIE or not.

    BINGO! My agenda is not and never has been to recommend whether you, Mal Peebles, see a film or not.

  • Now I’ve done it. I’ve made the fanboys angry. Oh dear.

  • depth and pure entertainment value of the movie

    Hahaha. Or maybe I didn’t find much of either.

    I understand that people’s opinions are completely subjective.

    Including yours.

  • Kelvin

    I’m pretty sure you’re white too. How do you get the right to speak and he doesn’t? Are you saying he’s wrong because he’s white and nothing more? Jesus Christ, I’m out.

  • Well we still read poems written by Shakespeare.

    We do indeed. But a screen or stage adaptation of Shakespeare is not automatically relevant or has something to say to us today. That has to be brought out in the production.

    you complain about Stephen King wanting to modernize his movie

    King had nothing to do with the film. He wrote the book it’s based on it. That’s it. *He* did not “modernize” anything. Did you even read my review? The idea of moving the story up in time is one of the few things I actually liked about the movie! It’s too bad the movie didn’t do it well.

    This artical is very biased and negative over the fact that you yourself was not pleased with the movie

    That’s how criticism works. I myself was not very pleased with the movie! Or should I have gotten into your head like Pennywise in order to determine whether *you* were going to be pleased with the movie?

    You say you are a big fan of King. yet, you barely understand one of his most popular novels.

    No, I didn’t like an adaptation of his work by other people.

    The old movie lived on because most children grew up remembering Pennywise the clown.

    Most children? I didn’t. I was already an adult when the miniseries aired.

  • Kelvin

    So you wanted a movie that happens in the 80s with 2017’s values and progress?

  • I am white. But I am not pretending to speak for anyone but myself.

  • How about a movie that happens in the 80s yet realizes that stereotypes that were popular in the 80s were wrong and unfair, even then?

  • Bluejay

    Yes. Not necessarily from the point of view of the characters – who may carry the prejudices of their time – but from the point of view of the STORY and how it treats the characters.

    Is that so crazy? We do this all the time. Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima is set in WWII, but treats its Japanese characters as nuanced human beings (not the “all Japs are evil” stereotype of the time). Roots was set in the 1700s, but it depicts slavery as cruel, unjust, and inhumane – to match the values of the MODERN audience, not the values of 1700s America. We tell stories about the past, but we tell it for the audience of today.

  • Bluejay

    The fact that the club only had ONE black kid, ONE girl, etc, is what makes it formulaic – it’s tokenism that’s been done a million times.

    The solution to tokenism is not casting zero women or PoC – it’s casting MORE. That way, characters can have different individual roles and personalities, instead of the burden of being the only one representing their “group.” Why not make two or more of the characters black, or girls, or black girls? Can the black kid or the girl (or the black girl) be the leader, instead of the sidekick or the damsel in distress? And so on. There are ways to shake things up to have better, fresher, more interesting representation. (See this for more about what I mean.)

    (And if it changes what King wrote – so what? The filmmakers felt free to change other aspects of the book – updating the time period, cutting out the child sex scene, etc.)

    Tokenism was just a first step towards real diversity onscreen. It may have been fine for the 1970s and 80s, but in 2017 we can do better (even when telling stories about the 70s and 80s).

  • Bluejay

    A King fan who has not read IT is about as useful reviewing this movie as a Jaws fan who has never seen a shark.

    So, you have to have seen a real, live shark before you can appreciate or criticize Jaws? Should you also have been launched into space before you can appreciate Gravity? Is Buzz Aldrin the only person who can review that film?

    If anybody has the most valid opinion, it is him. But you seem to believe that you know better.

    Let me guess: You think the Star Wars prequels are the best ever, because Lucas made them exactly the way he wanted.

  • David Smith

    Honestly, your review of the movie seemed like you went into this movie already hating it. Sure, a film review is nothing more than an opinion, and not all of us are going to agree. However, you are wrong on some of your points: There was plenty of character development and backstory for the kids, and we DO get a feeling of where their fears come from. Also, she did not play the damsel in distress, she played the savior more often than not. She threw the first rock, she stabbed him with the pole, so on and so forth. It seems like your girl power politics are coming into play with that particular assesment. All in all, a poor review with shoddy writing.

  • Jessica Hanson

    She’s doesn’t seem to be biased: she liked other SK film adaptations (The Dark Tower, and Carrie — both films I found dreadful, but to each his own). I’d say that this film is far better than those, but I don’t run this site.

  • Jessica Hanson

    That bad, huh? Do you hate it more than, say, Human Centipede 3? If yes, I’ll be *so curious* I might actually check it out. I’m hesitant — but curiosity is getting the better of me.

  • James Cumberland

    You’re underselling it MaryAnn. This version of the movie didn’t just hit the mark with the overarching theme of the fragile nature of innocence; that it’ll be either ripped away violently or fondly put to sleep… it also touched on the book’s ideas of societal failure in general, its indifference to injustice, bigotry, and cruelty. It actually managed to at least include the concept that evil is empowered by racism and hatred of the “other,” and enabled/emboldened by indifference. It didn’t flinch away from portraying bullying as a manifestation of the same evil.

    It doesn’t beat you over the head with it, but if you’d read the book, it’d have been obvious. It’s a two hour horror movie… they need to fill seats. You saw the surface that was designed to get people to stuff popcorn in their mouths, and then complained that it did that in spades.

    There’s more going on there, and you missed it, but that’s not the movie’s fault.

  • RogerBW

    The film isn’t made or marketed as “if you liked the book, see this expansion of it”. It stands alone, like any film made of a book, or it falls alone.

  • James Cumberland

    you don’t NEED to have read the book to see it’s there, but if you had read the book, it’s obvious. It’ll be (hopefully) more apparent and clearly fleshed out once the second half is released.

  • James Cumberland

    the “leader” affinity in the film is more ambiguous than it is in the book.. which was probably ascribed to “the writer character” because that’s a recurring thing with King. I would agree that Mike’s character wasn’t as well developed in the film as he should have been, but that doesn’t make him “yet another token” inclusion.

    The theme of racism and bigotry, and associated societal failures are a key motif in the story. So yeah, I guess if you wanted to strip away the symbolism and view the characters as cookie cutter archetypes, you could do so, and then miss the point entirely.

    The characters proudly reclaim the word loser, but it’s really an idea of pride as defiance at being attacked for being an outsider: from a society that is empowering an evil spirit that feeds off innocence, and is powered by hatred and indifference.

    Mike’s character isn’t black just so the movie/story could ‘have a black character to feign diversity.’

  • James Cumberland

    actually, I’d say it’s more like “A BIG King fan who has not read IT is like a big Hitchcock fan who hasn’t seen Psycho, a big Shakespeare fan who hasn’t read or seen a production of Hamlet, or a BIG Pink Floyd fan who has never listened to Dark Side of the Moon.”

    You’re not a “big” fan if you haven’t read it, and to claim otherwise is either dishonest or clueless.

  • if you’d read the book, it’d have been obvious.

    So you’re saying that in order to appreciate the movie, you *must* have read the book. This is *not* the definition of a successful movie.

    You saw the surface

    And you just admitted that the movie is nothing BUT surface.

    you missed it, but that’s not the movie’s fault.

    Yes, it literally is the movie’s fault, as you just explained that it was.

  • James Cumberland

    No… I said that IF you’d read the book, there’s no way you’d have missed it. You don’t need to have read the book to see it’s there. My friend that tagged along with me to the movie hadn’t read the book, and he saw more that the surface. You only saw the surface.

  • Ironic, a critic who can’t take criticism.

    Ironically, you didn’t offer any criticism.

    A King fan who has not read IT is about as useful reviewing this movie as a Jaws fan who has never seen a shark.

    LOL. Most people have never seen a real shark. And yet somehow, we manage to appreciate *Jaws.*

    the movie’s 80s setting is no different

    There is precisely *one* 80s thing in the actual content of the film, which is New Kids on the Block. Is that the only thing that was happening in the 80s? Did NKOTB *define* the 80s? I don’t think so.

    King loves the movie and loves the updated timeline to being it more current, if anybody has the most valid opinion, it is him. But you seem to believe that you know better.

    Of course I know my own opinion better than Stephen King does!

  • Or, you know, not everyone adheres to your idea of fandom.

  • The theme of racism and bigotry, and associated societal failures are a key motif in the story.

    Not in the movie, it isn’t.

    So yeah, I guess if you wanted to strip away the symbolism and view the characters as cookie cutter archetypes, you could do so, and then miss the point entirely.

    But that’s precisely what the movie has done.

  • Honestly, your review of the movie seemed like you went into this movie already hating it.

    I didn’t. Is that what you do going into movies?

    she did not play the damsel in distress

    She didn’t, and yet she ends up one anyway… as if her only purpose in the story ultimately is to bring the boys back together again.

    It seems like your girl power politics

    What’s wrong with “girl power politics”?

  • If anything, I’m biased *towards* King!

  • James Cumberland

    YES, it is in the movie. One of the complaints I had about the movie was that I felt they were TOO heavy handed in delivering the themes… apparently, you somehow still missed it.

    There’s a scene in the movie where a crew of bullies torment the defenseless fat nerdy character, and one starts to carve his name into the kid’s stomach.

    A car driven by an elderly couple slowly pulls by, glances over, and doesn’t even slow down or show concern. As it drives away, a balloon floats up in the back seat window.

    Did you need an extended cut where the car stops, backs up, rolls down the window and has the guy in the car say to the kids “hey, I don’t care about the awful stuff you’re doing, because I’m basically a gate-keeper for a societal evil, and that although I would go about my daily life protesting that I’m a good person, that’s really a fiction, and when it comes time to test my moral fabric, I collapse and submit to the rotten core of our society, which is being symbolically represented by an evil clown monster. Good day.” before driving off?

  • James Cumberland

    You’re right, I’m sure there’s some person out there who considers themselves a huge Pink Floyd fan, even though they’ve never bothered to listen to what’s considered to be their most iconic work… just as I’m sure there’s people out there who would defend that person’s self appraisal.

  • David Smith

    any political bs should be left out of a horror movie review. I think you are a sub-par movie critic tbh. Your a good writer, you should stick to covering other topics though.

  • Bluejay

    So you’re gatekeeping.

    The larger point is that knowledge of the source material should not be a prerequisite for writing a valid review. The movie is being judged on its own merits, not on its source material. You do not need to know Puzo’s Godfather chapter and verse before you can intelligently appraise Coppola’s version (or claim to be a Godfather fan).

  • James Cumberland

    “there is precisely *one* 80s thing in the actual content of the film, which is New Kids on the Block.”

    Wait, I thought you were saying this was a mess of “retro 80s mush”

    Either way, you’re now ignoring the movie titles on the marquees, the Street Fighter 1 in the arcade scene… The posters on Beverly’s wall for The Replacements and Siouxsie and the Banshees…

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    King’s books: great.
    Movies based on King’s books: mostly crap, though a handful benefit from nostalgia goggles

  • James Cumberland

    You DO NOT NEED TO BE FAMILIAR WITH THE BOOK to catch the themes that are IN THE MOVIE. You just have to be paying attention. This is a separate point from calling BS on the claim that the author of this review is a “big King fan.”

    You could claim to be a “Big fan of Mario Puzo” and then go on to say that you’d never read The Godfather I guess. It’d be a weird and confusing claim though.

  • Unknown 72826

    Maybe if you watched the original It and you actually thought about what year that movie was set in, I think 1959 to 1960. Something around their, It comes back every 27 years and since It came Derry in 1960, It came back to terrorize more kids in 1989 which means that it would’ve been around 27 years. So when they come out with another movie it will be set in 2017.

  • Unknown 72826

    How would you know that the adaptation from the book didn’t work if you’ve never read the book?

  • Unknown 72826

    How doesn’t It have a storyline?

  • Unknown 72826

    Oh and this film came out 27 years after the mini series came out.

  • James Cumberland

    there’s people playing defense in favor of the author of this review, and they’re consistently missing the complaint, and it’s muddied by the caveat that the author “loves King and hasn’t read the book,” which is an odd claim but ultimately unnecessary to the point of the review, and kind of a bizarre distraction.

    The reviewer has stated in the review (and in the comments) that it has no deeper themes beyond nostalgia-pandering and trope regurgitation. You can say “it actually talks about societal failure, bigotry, abuse, loss of innocence” and she can then just say in response “no it doesn’t.”

    How blatant did the movie need to get to drive the points home? Did she fall asleep during the scenes where Henry Bowers (the principle bully antagonist) is seething with racist hatred for Mike?

    So there, at the least, we’re talking about racism. The film briefly goes even further to talk about the town’s history in harboring that racism, and offers horrors from its past that recall America’s sickening and shameful history. I would have preferred the movie linger further on the story of The Black Spot, but it’s there.

    To further accentuate the point, the film deviated from the book, and made Henry’s dad a grizzled (seemingly alcoholic) town cop; someone who should be considered a protector of the innocent, sworn to fight injustice. Instead, the only way that he fulfills this duty in checking his son’s sociopathic villainy is to shame him and abuse him.

    So there’s a point about child abuse, cycle of abuse (eventually coming full circle and compounded). There’s also a tie there to the theme that the “town” is evil, which works in a horror symbolism kind of way to identify societal decay: racism, tolerance of bullying, and the way that the guards of our society are complicit in actually protecting those who undermine its darkest aspects. empowering them.

    Then there’s the inevitable cycle of terror, coming every 27 years, a generational cycle representation of how we cannot escape the past, and how we’ll relive it no matter how deeply we try to bury it.

    That’s tied to themes of trauma, persistence of memory, and how our adults selves are distorted mirrors of who we were as children. That’s not going to be able to be more fully explored until the second chapter (involving the adult arc) comes out… but we’ll probably get there.

    However, the themes regarding how Beverly handles her own trauma, related in two different scenes involving sexual abuse or predatory nature. She emerges as the strongest of the characters, one who seems to try to hold on to her innocence by fond bonding with the “outcasts” who all seem much more childish at their core. There’s several shots of her looking over at them with this sort of sad bittersweet appreciation. At the same time, she’s toughened by the unique curse of her particular abuse… to which she uses to sad advantage to manipulate the pedo pharmacist.

    On the flip side, you have Eddie’s overprotective mother, a hypocritically unhealthy woman who desperately tries to shield her son from the world, psychosomatically infecting him with imaginary weakness and a plethora of disorders. It’s a different kind of parental abuse, and it weakens her son. There’s a more subtle kind of evil there in that abuse, and it’s tragically tied to her love for her son, and her selfish interest in protecting that love at the expense of what she professes to love. She steals his freedom to keep her baby fragile rather than ever push him out of the nest.

    There we get into societal indifference and selfish solipsism towards evil and failure. The bullying scene where Henry carves the “H” into Ben’s stomach and the couple just casually drive by, while a balloon floats up in the back seat.

    I could go on… either way, to say that the movie doesn’t even “go there at all” is nonsense. To imply that you need to use the novel as a decoder ring to see those other themes would imply that the average viewer cannot just pay attention to the movie that they’re watching, and try to actually delve deeper into what it might actually be talking about. Sure, there’s a couple Easter eggs in there that you cannot get unless you read the novel, and they relate to plot points that the movie clearly isn’t going to get into… like The Turtle and The Other… and it’s probably a good thing that it steers clear of that stuff, because it isn’t necessary to deliver the central themes, and it would be incredibly difficult to make it work outside of a 1000+ page book.

    Regarding nostalgia, it’s not just pandering in the context of the central point, and unfortunately that final point isn’t going to connect until the next chapter. I guess on this point, you’ll just have to trust me here: the next chapter will get into the nature of memory, and how it relates to the ways that we understand who we were as children, and how we process what we went through.

    On a completely other level, there’s some masterful technical stuff clearly deserving of glowing praise. The cinematography is incredible, the acting across the board is great, the set design is amazing, the jokes are actually funny, the characters are well realized. I can see how some people could feel the pacing is off a bit, but I didn’t find it as jarring as some people did, and I’m optimistic that when paired with the second half, it will cement something more epically conclusive.

    But even if you’re not digging deeper to look at what the film is saying, it simultaneously functions as an engaging popcorn flick. You can turn your brain off and enjoy it as a dark supernatural themed bonding/coming-of-age story, which is largely why people are comparing it to Stand by Me and Stranger Things. Even if that was all it accomplished, it does it fantastically.

    The thing is, IT does a lot more than give you a sort of Wonder Years on a bad acid trip kind of thing. You can criticize the way that it delivers those other concepts, but that’s a completely separate thing from denying that it even tries to go there. To imply as much just means you didn’t see it… somehow.

  • gab ger gop

    She owned you with that argument and your attempt at rebuttal is too weak, I have read the book, the message you are saying is not in the film. The film theme is pretty basic with some of Kings literature superimposed which are the great scenes but are not in sync with the premise of the film. Which is something like ¨Friendship beats evil¨. The subtext or themes you talk about are in the book not in the film.

  • gab ger gop

    Great review, I think you pointed out most of the reasons it failed for me. Specially the lack of atmosphere, and like the title of your review, the editing feels so off or just organized like an assembly cut. This film is offensive for the character of Pennywise, he is never ever menacing.

  • Mal Peebles

    Based upon that comment and the fact that you review movies, your particular job, MaryAnn Johansson, is rather useless.

  • Mal Peebles

    That would be for her to say but something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

  • Jurgan

    Well, it’s rare that we disagree diametrically, but I guess this is one of those cases. I absolutely loved this movie. I wrote up a review of my own, but I know you’re not fond of people linking their own reviews on your page and I don’t feel like rehashing it. I don’t really understand your complaints, though. It’s too 80’s? I guess… I don’t know, I didn’t think the time period played much role in the story. This may be a case of something seeming unoriginal because of its imitators. Stephen King helped invent the “kids going on a quest” subgenre you mentioned, so it could be inevitable that any new adaptation would seem derivative. Still, this one felt real and alive to me. It could be that my mind fills in the gaps of characterization, but if that were true I would have liked the 1990 miniseries, and I really don’t. I think we learn more than enough about the kids through their reactions to their fears. Likewise, I do think that we get that common King trope of a town with a supernatural entity giving rise to more mundane horrors like abusive parents. What can I say, it all worked for me. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  • Jurgan

    That’s ridiculous. Personally, I think I would have liked this movie even if I hadn’t read the book, and I’d have no hesitation recommending it to a horror fan who hadn’t read it. Obviously Maryann has a different opinion than I, but it’s not simply because she hasn’t read the source material.

  • Jurgan

    There’s two schools of thought on the purpose of reviewing (possibly more). There’s “movie critic as consumer guide,” where the critic’s job is to tell people what’s good. Then there’s “movie critic as cultural analyst,” where her job is to discuss films and what they say about the world. Both are valid in their own right, but Maryann clearly is of the latter persuasion. You should understand that before complaining she’s not doing the other type of criticism.

  • Jurgan

    Nice, though a bit random. 7/10

  • Jurgan

    Admittedly it’s a bit surprising, but it’s not your place to judge. King’s written a lot of stuff, after all. You can be a fan without being a Constant Reader.

  • Jurgan

    I don’t mean to pile on with the rude James Cumberland, but I am confused by that statement. How can you say it’s a mash of 80’s nostalgia and also say there’s almost nothing 80’s in it? Aside from window-dressing like arcades, one of the most 80’s bits was when Eddie talks about his fear of contracting AIDS while crawling in the sewers. Maybe they could have played that up more, but it was definitely a real 80’s fear.

  • Jurgan

    Don’t be rude.

  • Jurgan

    If you honestly believed that, then it would be valid. Disliking the movies could mean you would also dislike the book, or it could mean you would like the book but didn’t like how it was adapted. It would still just be a movie you disliked. Similarly, it’s possible Maryann would like the book or hate it. It’s even possible, though unlikely, that after reading the book she’d like the movie better. But she said up front that she hadn’t read the book, so she’s saying that she doesn’t think it works from the perspective. Again, I disagree with her, but it’s her opinion and it’s just as valid as mine or yours.

  • Jurgan

    She’s not reviewing how faithful it is to the book, she’s reviewing how well it works as a movie. The point of the “some adaptations work, some don’t” comment is that saying it’s a bad movie doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book. If Maryann disliked the movie, it could be that she’d dislike the book, or it could be that she’d like the book but the filmmakers didn’t capture what she’d like about it. Either way, she didn’t like the movie.

  • Jurgan

    I basically agree with this. Showing the couple driving by and doing nothing worked much better than what happened in the 1990 miniseries: having Beverly tell a long, tedious story about an old man who ignored her father abusing her and point-blank declaring that as proof that the entire town is evil.

    You’re still rude, though.

  • Jurgan

    This is so silly. Obviously she’s describing their roles in the story and complaining about their being reduced to stereotypes. You may disagree, but don’t strawman her argument. It was pretty obvious what she was saying.

  • Jurgan

    If you think critics are useless, why are you looking up critics’ opinions in the first place? Also, Maryann has given positive reviews to a lot of horror films- I’m indebted to her for pointing me to The Babadook, for example.

  • Jurgan

    Given she gave it two stars, I think you can assume she found some things to like about it (probably some generic things like pacing, special effects, a few of the actors, etc.). Maryann just generally only talks about the points that are interesting to her. It’s part of her style.

  • Jurgan

    Yeah, I think they should remake this movie every 27 years so every generation can key into the nostalgia factor to some extent (I grew up in the 90’s, so this is close to my childhood). Not sure how that’s relevant to Maryann’s review, though.

  • Wait, I thought you were saying this was a mess of “retro 80s mush”

    In the construction of the storytelling, yes. Not in the actual content of the story.

    Please explain what ways ” the movie titles on the marquees, the Street Fighter 1 in the arcade scene… The posters on Beverly’s wall for The Replacements and Siouxsie and the Banshees…” have ANY bearing on the story? NKOTB barely has any bearing, but at least it’s something that is actually talked about a little bit.

  • Hannah5413

    I was a child when I watched the adaptation. Me and my friends would always talk about how scary it was. He’s not terrifying anymore really, because I’m older. So the remake didn’t scare me at all, but I enjoyed the movie and So did King. I understand what you are saying. You enjoy his book, but hate the movie. Are you saying you dislike Andrés Muschietti for “ruining” King’s novel? You shouldn’t pick on a movie that had a low budget, as you could tell from the effects, but they really tried. I am glad the didn’t add the gang bang scene from the novel. They planned to, but cut it because it would be sick to have children act that out. So you can at least thank them for leaving that out.

  • Trope from 80s movies are not things *about* the 80s that impact the story. A comment about AIDS is, though it is utterly throwaway. The kids don’t *know* they are a cliched gang straight out of an 80s movie. But they DO live in the 1980s, yet the movie barely realizes this. It could almost be taking place in the 1950s.

  • I don’t need to know that. I only need to know what works onscreen. How is this at all difficult to understand?

  • That hardly constitutes “a key motif,” and it has absolutely nothing to do with racism or bigotry. It’s arguably not even about “society” failing anything or anybody but about an evil entity impacted what people do.

    Also, the people in the car would have to be actual characters in the story for it to have real impact, and we don’t even know who they are.

  • But one car driving by hardly indicts all of the town in anything.

  • I write about my reaction to movies. I could not possibly anticipate whether you, and anyone else, should see any movie. That is up to you to decide.

  • I clearly stated that I have not read the book.

    Are you saying you dislike Andrés Muschietti for “ruining” King’s novel?

    Not at all. No movie “ruin” any book. The book still exists.

    You shouldn’t pick on a movie that had a low budget,

    My complaints about the film have nothing to do with budgetary things.

  • You’re sweet if you think politics isn’t all over every movie and every review by every critic. You just probably don’t notice this when movies and reviews and critic align with your politics.

  • Yes, that is perfectly clear in the film. What does that have to do with my review?

  • You are reading things into the movie that simply are not there. Probably because you’re bringing in your knowledge of the book. The most blatant example is this:

    That’s tied to themes of trauma, persistence of memory, and how our adults selves are distorted mirrors of who we were as children.

    There is nothing remotely like this in the movie. “Maybe they’ll deal with that in the sequel” is not good enough. It is not here.

    You are also mistaking “telling” for “showing.” “Show, don’t tell” is a primary rule for good, effective storytelling. This movie does far more telling than showing, which it almost *has* to do because it is contracting a very long book — and since it’s King, I think it’s safe to guess that it’s also a very *internal* book — into a short, visual form.

    There’s nothing wrong with bringing in your memories from the book. It can make a film richer for *you*. But it can also distort your appreciation of how other people may see a film. And THIS is why I ALWAYS reveal whether or not I have a read a source novel! Because it impacts my appreciation of a movie.

    And for the last time, for me, fandom does not equate to obsessive completeism. King has written many books, so I’m totally comfortable calling myself a fan for having read and loved a bunch of them, without having to have read *all* of them.

  • I didn’t think the time period played much role in the story

    No, the time period barely plays a part at all, which IS a problem. Yet it’s rife with storytelling cliches of the era.

    it could be inevitable that any new adaptation would seem derivative

    Then it was behooven upon the filmmakers to ensure that it did not feel derivative to the exclusion of all else. Many stories are derivative and still effective. This one is not.

    common King trope of a town with a supernatural entity giving rise to more mundane horrors like abusive parents

    One of my big problems with the movie is that the town does not even feel haunted or possessed. But you say that the evil entity is meant to have given rise to the abusive parents? There is absolutely no suggestion of that at all in the movie… and it doesn’t even make sense. There are abusive parents everywhere: they don’t need supernatural nudging to be terrible.

  • David Smith

    I didn’t say there were not, I said they should be left out of reviews. SHOULD be, not were not. I don’t play politics, it’s a rich mans game and anyone who does is a pawn. On top of all that, you have left the discussion on “IT” completely and have tried to engage in a boring and immature political argument of some sort. Bravo, very professional

  • Hannah5413

    So you dislike the characters? They are well made characters who deal with real world problems. It is shown more in the 1990 miniseries. Abusive parents, loss of loved ones. etc.

  • James Cumberland

    AND that part I included as a special exemption, saying “you gotta trust me here,” there’s going to be a payoff… hopefully.

    This is part one of a two-part thing that is very much incomplete. If that conceptually bothers you as a delivery mechanism, you didn’t make that clear in your criticism.

    Your show vs tell rebuke is lacking in that it assumes the audience cannot understand what it is being shown. High school kids generally are taught to read into this stuff with standard symbolic material like Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. They move on from there. There’s some heavy-handed symbolism in here; just because you fail to pick up on it doesn’t mean it’s absent.

    And for the last time, I have observant friends who pick up on this stuff without reading the book. It was there in the movie. You failed to notice it, and that was your job. You’re supposed to paying close attention. I’d hope, as a “professional critic” who gets paid for this stuff (?) that you’d be looking as close as you can.

    You didn’t. This doesn’t require someone who read the book to point out.

  • James Cumberland

    Also, come on with this red herring about being a big fan. It’s a distraction, and like I said, it’s muddying the argument in a way that you enjoy.

    But also, sorry, you can’t be a big fan of King if you haven’t bother to read IT. IT’s called IT. IT’s IT. This is THE ONE. The ultimate horror in a lot of ways, or at least the most encompassing.

    Like I was inferring, it’s like saying you’re a huge fan of Shakespeare but you haven’t bothered to get to Hamlet.

    AND that aspect of this whole discussion is a tiresome distraction from larger complaints.

  • James Cumberland

    The town doesn’t feel haunted?! How blatant does it have to be?

    You’ve taken issue with my coming at this from the perspective of someone who read the book, but in the book, a balloon doesn’t rise up in the back seat of the car after it glibly passes by while Ben is being switchblade-branded. If we need overtly haunted looking stuff, how about the Neibolt house?

    It’s overtly spooky throughout, everything feels haunted, all the adults are distant and/or sadistic… if you’re looking for creaky doors and rattling chains, they’re here too… What would make it feel sufficiently haunted for you?

  • Jim Mann

    King has written so much that it is easy to be a big fan of his work and to not have read several of his big novels.

  • Bluejay

    AND that aspect of this whole discussion is a tiresome distraction from larger complaints.

    Yes it is. And YOU’RE the one who keeps bringing it into the discussion, by challenging her on it. Her knowledge of King’s written work is not at all central to her argument, which is a review of the film as it stands on its own.

    And you are, indeed, being an obnoxious gatekeeper. King has written more novels than Shakespeare has written plays, and more short stories than Shakespeare has written sonnets. And MANY of King’s works are iconic, arguably having penetrated the public consciousness and culture as much as or even more than IT. It is indeed possible to be a big fan of a lot of his work, even if you’ve missed a couple of major touchstones.

    But all that’s beside the point, because while she admits her fandom and pro/con biases up front as a matter of policy, she doesn’t make any of this central to her review of what’s onscreen. We keep arguing about it, though, because YOU’RE the one who keeps trying to say her bona fides aren’t good enough.

  • Mal Peebles

    Jurgan! (Queue the “enter hero” music)…. You will have to list every type of possible critic to be taken seriously.

    Actually, you are not wrong. I graduated the same year the movie in question was based. That being said, I was looking for a studied, intellectual review on a movie. While Ms. Johanson is obviously a smart person, I guess I was not expecting the snarkiness nor the band of trolls. May you all leave a mark on this earth much better than an underwear stain. Albeit the lure of feeling “anonymously right” about everything is strong, I will leave the last word for the ones that need it.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  • amanohyo

    There is one sentence about the female character in the entire review (two if you count “Seriously?”) referencing the use of the storytelling trope of having a single, often poorly developed female character who is placed on a pedestal, and whose kidnapping/death/suffering/etc motivates the male characters to action.

    If you squint real hard, it’s a political statement, but it’s also a supporting statement in a larger critique of lazy storytelling (its interesting that the formulaic nostalgia in Super 8 was effective for MA, but not here). In a 1000+ page book written in 1986, maybe it can work, but it didn’t work for MA here, now. Now, don’t get me wrong, your girl power sjw-ey sense is correct, MA is a feminist (thank goodness), but I imagine there are some people who would not identify as feminists who would also be critical of the overuse of this trope.

    You did a good job providing some examples of ways Beverly had some agency in the story. If you really hate politics, it would be effective to continue in that vein and discuss why you liked/disliked this movie in an apolitical way, otherwise you run the risk of encouraging the very thing you are trying to avoid. You wouldn’t walk over to the wallaby enclosure at the zoo and say, “You know what I hate, people who can’t stop talking about wallabies! Every time I go to the zoo, it’s wallaby this and wallaby that! Look there, another person blabbing about a wallaby, they’re everywhere!”

    “I’m sorry sir, I like wallabies, I’m paid to talk about wallabies, discussing wallabies is part of my jo-”

    “Wallabies are a rich man’s game though. Back in the 80’s I tried to keep one as a pet – damn thing went through 10 bags of Funyuns a day, not snack size either. And just gallons of Tab, gallons. When she got into the limited edition Fruit Roll Ups I set aside for my nuptials, I had to put little Wallabina down. Second hardest thing I’ve ever done. We had our days though, we had our days…” *sob*

    “Sir, are you okay?”

    “Shut up about your damn wallabies!”

  • summeriris

    Actually I think MaryAnn got owned, but if you prefer to see it otherwise…so be it. I agree with James Cumberland, the movie made its points very well indeed. Is it a perfect film, no. But I think on the whole the film was pretty good. The things I didn’t like about it is the things that MaryAnn never mentions in her reviews. I thought that the director should have invested in some lightbulbs and I am not a fan of a desaturated colour palette. Other than that I thought the film was shot with flair and imagination. I thought the film laid out and revealed how ‘Fear’ can be used as a tool of manipulation, especially when directed toward children. I thought the film did a great job in showing how Pennywise was far from the only monster in Derry. I thought the child actors did a great job, all of them delivered powerful performances. The film delivered as far as I am concerned.

  • Summeriris

    No, Maryann actually did write
    “Um, yes. And that’s fine. Some adaptations work, and some don’t. Some stories work, and some don’t.”
    And that actually is a critique on the adaptation of King’s book…which MaryAnn has never read.

  • Danielm80

    When sexist and racist stereotypes are so commonplace that they’ve become clichés, it’s essential that we talk about them, so that people are less likely to believe them. And when people find them easy to overlook, that suggests that bigotry is much too deeply ingrained in our entertainment.

    Bigotry isn’t a trivial part of a film. It’s a major flaw, and I’d argue that it’s a critic’s job to mention it. If people find it upsetting to hear about politics (and, in this case, “politics” means the mistreatment of other people), maybe they recognize, on some level, that they’re part of the problem.

    [/humorless SJW rant]

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No, I call bullshit. You made the insinuation, it’s on you to back it up.

  • gab ger gop

    That is the problem, it was mediocre and not a horror film at all.

  • James Cumberland

    It DOES NOT MATTER to the larger point. I’ve said what I think of her caveat. Repeatedly. You’re repeating yourself. I’ll. decline to follow suit.

  • James Cumberland

    The posters on Bev’s walls were for 80s post punk and goth bands. It was the presumption that a boy band like NKotB would be marketed and “sold to girls” at the time. It’s is then an aspect that colors her character that she playfully messes with Ben for listening to “little girl music” but is sweet about it, despite having more evolved (and darker) taste in music. It’s also more “adult” music, and her character already does seem to be an adult in a group of children… I feel like there’s sort of an intended “queen bee” vibe implied there, but I’m not even going to bother arguing it.

    Again, you don’t need to directly have the characters TALKING ABOUT something for it to matter to the story. The marquee movie titles were selected intentionally. Do you think it’s just random that they chose to put Nightmare on Elm Street 4 on there (a movie about a supernatural monster that murders children in their dreams)?

    The part where the kids reconcile in the arcade is a situational environment unique to the 80s; arcades were stomping grounds for boys in the 80s, and they don’t really exist in the same way anymore. If the movie took place in any other time period, the scene would have had to have played out completely differently.

    And also, nostalgia is part of a central theme, not just window dressing… but again, that’s not completely explored yet. IT IS STILL THERE, but incomplete. The film, however, HAS TO SET IT UP or else it’s failed to create the ground for the next part.

  • Bluejay

    I’ve said what I think of her caveat. Repeatedly.

    Yes, my point exactly. You’re the one who keeps bringing it up and devoting multiple, paragraphs-long comments to dissecting her bona fides. Give it a rest. You don’t get to decide who’s a big fan and who isn’t.

    it’s the only part you’re addressing. That’s telling.

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, and I’m happy to see the two of you debate the film on its merits. I’m choosing to participate and call bullshit when you’re being an obnoxious gatekeeper.

  • P J Evans

    Onamission5 called me a “typical spic”. I can’t believe it. In this day and age.

  • Unknown 72826

    You were asking why it’s based in the 80’s and that’s why.

  • Unknown 72826

    But their were cliches in the original It.

  • James Cumberland

    That’s part of the point, that we don’t know who they are. They’re just citizens of the town, turning a blind eye to bullying.

    Much like how the town has whitewashed the history to forget about The Black Spot. Mike brings it up in the scene in the park, as the bar that was the black hangout, where the exists were blocked and it was burned down.

    This is something the film could have handled better, but apparently the intended detailed flashback of the scene was removed for budget concerns. Now that it’s already a blockbuster success, I’m going to assume WB is going to give the sequel a significantly larger budget.

    I’m still not sure if the shot where Mike sees the fire creeping from the slaughterhouse and the black hands reaching through the crack of the door is intended to be a reference to it, because they make this more confusing with the back story they added where his parents died in a fire… but in the scene, there’s more than two pairs of hands trying to force the door open.

    Also, apparently in the original screenplay, Henry uses more overtly racist language while beating up Mike, but I guess the filmmakers decided to excise it due to racial tensions escalating in this country, and they thought the implication was clear enough without using the N word… and since we have Henry saying “you don’t belong here,” and then later dropping the hint that the fire that killed his family was arson… Henry’s dad is a cop… if they knew it was arson and yet Mike didn’t, it suggests the police were either complicit or protective of the arsonist.

    It’s true that it’s rushed through and left ambiguous, but the racial topic is there, and will probably/hopefully be explored more in the sequel. There’s an essential scene regarding homophobia that takes place in the adult arc of the story that I can’t imagine them cutting, and unless they change some really vital details about it, it’ll further expand on the concept that the town is complicit and indifferent, possibly due to its rotten core, and then there’s the notion that is Pennywise the cause, or is he a symbolic reflection, fueled by those tensions. It’ll be interesting to see how the next movie addresses that.

    I get what you’re saying about how you can only critique what you’re seeing on the screen, and that the book and movie need to be digestible separately, even if they do complement each other. The unique distinction here is that you’re working with only half of the story. The adult arc completes and informs the childhood arc… and neither would be completely successful without the other… so I guess, for now the book can complete the childhood arc of the movie fine enough for me.

    I would be much more concerned if the movie had just left all that stuff out… which is basically what the 1990 miniseries did: reducing it to a toothless and pointless story about an evil clown.

    I don’t recall the 1990 version even addressing the issue of child abuse, physical or sexual. In this version Bev’s dad does abuse her, and in turn with gossip and slut shaming concepts, a rumor goes around town that she’s basically a whore. Victim blaming and shaming fall into that, but nobody’s coming to her aid. In the final scene with her dad, he’s acting maniacal, possessed, and the entity is right around the corner.

    He’s one of the human monsters in the movie. So is Henry. So’s that creepy pharmacist. So’s Eddie’s hysterical mother. So in a town riddled with tragedies and disasters and rampant out-of-control child murder, the solution is to institute a curfew and leave it at that. I felt the changed plot point about George going missing (in the book he’s found dead, and they dismiss it as potentially a freak accident) was unnecessary, but it doesn’t seem like anyone besides Bill is actively looking for him.

    After Patrick goes missing, there’s a shot of a woman casually putting up a “missing” sign on a telephone pole. And then thaaat’s it. Though I’m not sure if they’ve really killed him in this film adaptation. I guess we’ll see.

    Still, the town has “problems.” Mike saying it’s cursed because of an evil thing… Ben’s research… the details about the Easter egg hunt disaster, and being chased around by a headless child w/ an Easter egg in its hand… feels haunted to me… and there’s the scene where Pennywise’s ballon has “I heart Derry” written on it… he does love it. It’s his “kind of place.”

  • Danielm80

    Then we should talk about that, and write articles like this:


  • James Cumberland

    I dunno, this becomes a sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario for larger points of the story. If they’d added another girl to the group, it would completely alter the story… We could look at the dynamic for what it is, and place it as realistically as you could (in a universe with evil monster clowns).

    It’s a group of unpopular social outcasts… they’re not going to have girlfriends, they’re losers. And young boys tend to hang out with boys, girls with girls… boys will go do “boy stuff” and girls get together and do things that naturally appeal more to girls.

    That framing alone is difficult to mess with, and it’s not a stereotype if it’s an observable reality, and one that most of us went through.

    We can’t do a Ghostbusters reboot flipping of the script here either without it feeling incredibly bizarre… we’d have a ragtag group of young girls, having rock fights with the mean girls? Would they all center around some strong male character, put him on a pedestal, and then save him from distress?

    But let’s say the damsel in distress trope is tired here, how could we say that this portrayal is different? For starters, she’s braver, stronger, and more grown up than the rest of them. Do the boys all worship her and put her on a pedestal? I’d say Ben does. Are they all in love with her? On some puberty fascination level seemingly. Does she flirt around with all of them? No, only briefly with Bill, when she suspects that he wrote her the haiku. Her admiration for them is more plutonic and endearing, in an “oh aren’t these guys adorable” sort of way.

    Do they have to “come to her rescue” when she is captured? Somewhat. Pennywise doesn’t hold her hostage though, he’s just letting her sit paralyzed in the dead lights, because she’s not afraid enough of him to get what he needs out of her. She doesn’t hide behind her knights in shining armor either, she fights alongside them.

    So then there’s the criticism of the characters as being tokens. I wouldn’t have had a problem with more diversity, but it could lead to a confusion as to what plagues each character and makes them an outcast. Yes, Derry isn’t a real town, so we could say that its demographics are a fiction to begin with, but it’s a fictional version of Bangor Maine (right down to the Paul Bunyan statue). The population is overwhelming white.

    So yeah, we have that setting with a bunch of white kids “with a black friend.” My biggest problem with the movie was that it did FEEL like Mike was tacked in there. His character was to have an expanded role as the torch-bearer for the forgotten history of the town’s racist past and lingering underbelly. It’s there, but not fleshed out enough. The director has said that he wants to dive more into that aspect of the story with part 2, and now that they’ll probably get whatever budget they want, I’m sure we’ll see it.

    But these “identity” aspects to the characters are symbolically important, as it’s a story about an evil entity that preys on weakness and vulnerability. It manifests and expands that concept with the bully characters, and the way they aim at those exploits. Mike is attacked with racist motivations. Beverly is poor and slut-shamed for hanging out with boys (and presumably a twisted version of gossip about her abuse at home), wherein her femininity is sexually assaulted. I can only assume that the blood erupting from her sink isn’t being too subtle there either. Eddie is physically weak with munchausens syndrome. Bill has a stutter. Ben’s fat, nerdy, bookish, and babyish. I guess there wasn’t much of an explored anti-semitic bent to Stan’s character, though his jewish identity bookends the Childhood arc; where his Bar Mitzvah ceremony highlights the coming of age, loss of innocence, transition to an adult theme of the story. Ritchie, I dunno… He’s kinda like comic relief. If they’d altered his ethnicity, I guarantee there’d be people who would then say “oh, so you take the s-talking wiseguy comic relief and make him Asian, how very Short Round of you.”

    Sometimes, I think struggling to find a way to alter a character to summon up more diversity just reeks of placating, pandering desperation.

  • Danielm80

    I assume you’ve read the article MaryAnn posted earlier this evening? If not, here it is again:


  • James Cumberland

    I understand that you didn’t dislike the notion of the update, but I don’t understand the complaint you have with the execution. It’s got some nostalgic gags and cute 80s references. There’s nostalgia pangs in there, but I don’t see that as a bad thing at all, it’s kind of central to a story that deals with the loss of innocence at its core…

    The updating was pragmatic on a level too. King set the childhood arc of the book in the fifties, so that the adult arc would take place (27 years later) in a modern setting, which at the time was 1986 at the book’s release. This movie takes place 27 years ago, so the adult arc will be contemporary.

    This could be considered a spoiler, though not major, although it’s a central theme of the book, and the total story is largely about the persistence of memory… The original fifties setting worked greatly on that level, set in a sort of Norman Rockwell / Leave it to Beaver universe. The 80s setting has that kind of glossy charm to it too, though they could have stylized it more, sure. Nostalgia charm for the lost ideal, but it was always a lie, and the ugliness underneath was disguised by it. As the kids go their separate ways, they all begin to have a collective amnesia set in as they grow up. They forget. The 80s setting has that kind of glossy charm to it too, though they could have stylized it more, sure.

    It’s a key point… when we look back at our childhoods, we tend to think about fond memories. We either suppress or try to not think too much about painful memories, even though they largely shape who we are as adults, and it’s trauma that most closely ties us back home. In the book, it’s seen in how they emerge as largely broken, scarred grown ups, many in cursed relationships.

  • James Cumberland

    no I didn’t. I just read it… there’s some aspects missing in this takeaway.

    1. The story of The Black Spot was originally in the screenplay. Andres wanted to film it, but WB only gave them a 35 million dollar budget to work with, and already the film was pushing against their running length requirements (the original cut was roughly 30 minutes longer).

    2. The director has already said that he wants to include the scene in the sequel, and now that they’ll have a budget it almost certainly will be.

    3. The Black Spot is still referenced, and it’s placed as a parallel to the altered fate of his family dying in a fire that, it is suggested, was racially motivated arson.

    4. I believe that the way IT first manifests to Mike is a reference to The Black Spot and his family’s own death. Mike attested that only his parents died in the fire, but there’s more than two sets of arms trying to pry the burning door open in the vision he gets.

    5. It is still pretty clear that Henry’s hatred of Mike is racially motivated, and I think it’s inferred that Henry (or possibly his dad) started the fire. He seems to at least know something about it, and his dad being a cop would seem to suggest the police were at least protecting the arsonist.

    6. Henry using more overt racist language was also originally in the screenplay, but they chose to remove the use of “the n word.” He didn’t do this because he wanted to make Henry’s racist motivation less of a factor, but because he believed it was already blatant and apparent already, and that the word was unnecessary and a source of direct pain for a lot of people; especially in a racially strained society like modern America.

    7. In the scene where we’re introduced to Mike in the abattoir, his grandfather is giving him a lesson, implying that in this town (world), he is a target.

    So no, I wouldn’t say most of these changes are “screwed up.” That would imply intent, and his intent is still to include the scene. Originally, it was going to be done with The Smokehole, but due to budget that had to be cut too. In the smoke hole, the kids try a Native American spirit journey ceremony, and see visions. One of those was intended to be the exploration of the Derry version of the KKK, Pennywise’s involvement, and the burning of The Black Spot.

    The director hinted that he’s planning to have some kind of similar thing with the adults, taking some psychedelic drug to “remember” the things they have forgotten, and in the process they see back through Derry’s history, to the point where IT arrived.

  • James Cumberland

    there’s some big problems with that article though, for the reasons I listed up there. When we’re going to accuse Hollywood of whitewashing a movie, intent is important. The director and writers had no intention of excluding the material, so it’s hard to really call it whitewashing… The 1990 adaptation, however, absolutely did, and that was one of the many reasons I hated it. That adaptation even COMPLETELY threw out the segment about Adrian Mellon…

    On that note, word is THAT part will be in the second movie as well… it’s pretty central to the story. Personally I was hoping it would be included in the first chapter, since it deals with homophobia that was rampant in the 80s. However, even though gay rights have come a long way since then, we can’t really pretend that violence towards homosexuals has gone away, so reframing it in a contemporary setting could actually give it more relevance.

  • Danielm80

    Material that was cut from the film or that might possibly be in the sequel is not material that’s actually on the screen. And subtext that’s hinted at if you’re paying close attention may be obvious to you but not necessarily to people who haven’t read the book…or the articles about the making of the film that you’ve apparently been reading all week.

  • Dr.Megan

    Everything! The kids, the plot, the scares. Excellent movie all around.

  • James Cumberland

    I wanted to know why it was dialed back when the director originally stated it was essential to the story. It’s still planned as an inclusion in the second half. I read an article about it… I don’t understand why that’s worthy of derision, but your link to this article isn’t?

    This story is at the same place we were at relatively at the end of Fellowship of the Ring. Nobody walked out confused that there was no resolution. It was understood that the story would be completed later.

  • Bobby Boatman

    You’re losing it, Mary Ann. This movie shoots straight to the top of King film interpretations, and that is saying something. “It” delivers on all levels.
    I urge anyone who wants to have the living bejabbers scared out of ’em to
    check this out.

  • LaSargenta

    Or even, be part of a family with made men.

  • Danielm80

    I’m not deriding you for doing additional research, or for your interest in a movie you obviously enjoyed. I’m just pointing out–yet again–that many people in the audience won’t have done that amount of reading, or even finished the book, so the movie needs to stand on its own.

  • Unknown 72826

    Who said that the town was supposed to feel haunted or possessed? That wouldn’t make sense, it’s literally a clown that can shape shift and turn into what that person is scared scared of the most and It came from another dimension and has been terrorizing the town for hundreds of years. I don’t see why the town would feel haunted or possessed if that’s the case. One of the kids even says that his grandfather thinks that the town is “cursed.” Their’s a pretty big difference between the three.

  • Look: You could shift the events of this movie to the 1950s, and the *only* thing of substance you would have to change would be the bits about NKOTB. The rest is all set dressing. And no, of course characters do not have to directly discuss something for it to matter. But the 80s do not matter here.

  • Once more: I am not reviewing the book, or how well the book has been adapted. I am reviewing what is on screen. That’s it. I am NOT critiquing King. I am critiquing this retelling of King’s story by other people. This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

  • The unique distinction here is that you’re working with only half of the story.

    No, the film is working with half the story. This film still needs to stand on its own even if a sequel is coming.

  • Have you even read my review?

  • You occupy an extraordinarily privileged place in our society if politics do not affect you. Must be nice.

  • I did not ask that at all.

  • “you gotta trust me here,”

    No, I don’t have to trust you.

  • If we need overtly haunted looking stuff

    No, we don’t.

    all the adults are distant and/or sadistic

    Adults can be distant and sadistic everywhere. There’s nothing special or supernatural about that.

  • Children are going missing on a regular basis! The town should be in an uproar. Instead, it prompts barely a shrug.

    If you’re cool with that, great. I’m not.

  • Summeriris

    In that case MaryAnn should never have mentioned the book…but she did and that is that.

  • Dent

    Thanks, I just noticed that to.

  • Summeriris

    But they Will critique the film, not write a blog essay about their feelings about the film. Most critics will condemn/praise a film on something other than their biases, the past few years you seem to do nothing else bu review a film based on your feelings about everything except the film. You are purporting to be a critic, that means that a certain amount of impartiality about any film should be present IMO. By all means point out what is wrong with the film, but it wouldn’t kill you to point out what struck you as good about the film as well. I used to be a faithful reader of you MaryAnn, for many years. I didn’t always agree with your reviews, but I did respect them. Somewhere along the line you lost me, I know you hold very strong feelings about certain social matters, but it got tiresome reading your ‘reviews’ when they seem to be about nothing else but those feelings and less about the films. Now you can say with perfect right that I am only one person, but I did enjoy your reviews. You used to be one of the first reviewers I checked out when I wanted to read a good review. No longer. I am only one person, but every time I read one of your reviews lately I am a saddened person.

  • According to an interview with King, it was a metaphor for growing up. Whatevs. I’d be pretty shocked if any adaptation of this book ever leaves that scene in. :)

  • Danielm80


  • Bluejay

    Oh, please. Saying that it’s based on a book, that she hasn’t read it, but that she’s a big fan of the author in general, does NOT distract from the fact that she’s reviewing the movie. I’m amazed at how many people don’t get that.

    She’s being honest about the prior knowledge and associations she’s carrying with her into the movie, and it makes her position even EASIER to understand. You can agree or disagree with her opinion of the film, but why would you criticize her honesty about where she’s coming from? It’s not like she’s trying to deceive or confuse anyone, it’s all RIGHT THERE in the review.

  • I mentioned the book in order to note that I had not read it, but also to give King the benefit of the doubt based on my knowledge of his other work.

    It makes perfect sense to have mentioned it.

  • Bluejay

    every time I read one of your reviews lately I am a saddened person.

    Maybe you should stop reading them. It’s important to take care of your emotional well-being.

    I’m curious: Are you saddened by ALL her reviews, including when she praises movies that you enjoyed? Or just the reviews where you liked the film and she didn’t?

  • essay about their feelings about the film

    All arts criticism is about a critic’s feelings about the work.

    Most critics will condemn/praise a film on something other than their biases

    Ha ha no. All critics are biased, whether they admit it or not.

    a certain amount of impartiality about any film should be present IMO

    No critic is going to satisfy this bizarre requirement of yours. Such critics do not exist.

    Somewhere along the line you lost me,

    Then there is no reason to keep returning here.

  • Summeriris

    I’m sorry MaryAnn, that is trying to move the goalposts. You cannot critique this film in anyway relating to King’s book. You didn’t read his book so you cannot have a frame of reference. By all means review what you saw onscreen, when you post that review I’ll read it.

  • Summeriris

    It could be Bluejay that many people didn’t get the fact that MaryAnn was reviewing the film and not the book is because MaryAnn did not review the film that way.

  • Bluejay

    Wow, that’s quite a feat, reviewing a book she hasn’t read.

    Back up your claim, or no one will take it seriously. Please quote sentences and paragraphs and explain how she’s really talking about the book, not the film.

  • Summeriris

    But you didn’t just mention it in passing, you mentioned it throughout your ‘review’. Now I don’t mind if you didn’t care for the film, different strokes for different folks. I thought it was pretty good and I thought the acting done by the child cast was great, but there were aspects of the film that I didn’t like. the colour pallette and the lack of light in the indoor scenes irritated the heck out of me, but that doesn’t detract from the work done by the cast. And I would say that their characters came through loud and clear. I got them and I got a lot more from the film. I thought the film showed how the evil of Pennywise had corrupted the town itself and how these children had to fight both Pennywise and his influence. On the whole I think the film delivered enough of the story to please the audience. You disagree.

  • Summeriris

    Combined with Beverly’s bullying in the school bathroom and the implication of abuse by her father, the girl in the pharmacy being spiteful to Eddie, Bill’s father being indifferent to his son’t grief, Mike’s grandfather forcing him to kill the sheep, Stanley’s father’s scorn at the bar mitzvah rehearsal, the abuse of Henry’s father who was a policeman…just how much evidence did you need to indict the entire town of being under Pennywise’s influence? That’s just some of what was shown in the film. Is that the problem, it was shown and not blatantly told?

  • Summeriris

    If the audience didn’t know that while watching the film then no film was going to inform them of that fact. You either know that those stereotypes were never right or you don’t.

  • Summeriris

    Yes Bluejay I am saddened, Because no matter if the review is favourable or unfavourable the same biases come through. I haven’t been to the site in some time, last year I think…but nothing much has changed.

  • Summeriris

    Indeed MaryAnn there is no need to return to your site. That is indeed a pity.

  • Bluejay

    Then you’re free to find other sites and writers who are more to your taste. Goodbye and good luck.

  • James Cumberland

    It will stand on its own when we’ve seen the whole thing! Then it’s reasonable to call out what was excluded.

  • Danielm80

    If the character is a boring cliché—and especially if he’s a stereotype—then there’s not much incentive to follow him to another installment.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Most critics will condemn/praise a film on something other than their biases…
    …a certain amount of impartiality about any film should be present…

    This is into “so wrong it’s not even wrong territory. I mean, you have been here a while, certainly you’ve seen commenters crack wise on what an impartial, unbiased, or “objective” film review would like like:
    “It” is a 2017 horror film directed by Andy Muschietti. The film’s runtime is 137 minutes. It shot on Arri Alexa MT and MT X camera, in 2.39:1 aspect ratio…”

  • Dent

    Mind you’re own grammar!

  • helloworld

    I would not be surprised if this movie was shot originally as a tv series because it felt like several episodes of TV cut down to 2.5 hours. It dragged and it jumped. I am almost sure it was meant to be a mini-series.

  • You cannot critique this film in anyway relating to King’s book

    And where did I do that?

  • The problem is, there is nothing in the least bit supernatural about ANY of those things! It’s just ordinary human behavior. Not very nice, but utterly and completely ordinary.

  • Huh? I’m not saying that characters should stand around talking about how stereotypes are uncool! I’m saying “Don’t make a film that indulges those stereotypes.”

  • the same biases come through

    And you think this is a BAD thing?


  • Bluejay

    What’s curious is that if the “bias” or “agenda” Summeriris is referring to is your feminist perspective on film, it’s something she seemed to be totally on board with, as recently as a couple of years ago:


    And note that in that comment, SHE’S the one saying you haven’t brought up the feminist issues in the film ENOUGH!

    What changed?

  • Ross

    Dickhead, I didn’t say any of those things you’re claiming. Maybe I did, but if I did, I was just kidding around.

  • Charan

    First time commenting here, MaryAnn, though I’ve read and enjoyed many of your reviews. I have just one question: as a self-professed big King fan, did the movie give you any urges to add IT to your list of consumed King novels? I wouldn’t say I’m a huge King fan but I’d rank It up there with The Stand and Needful Things as definitive King novels (and Dark Tower, for better or worse). That aside, great review of the movie in and of itself. I enjoyed it at the time, gave it a night to rest, and then started internally pulling it to bits. I am genuinely annoyed that I liked it given how much of it I dislike in hindsight. Anyway, there’s my question for you. Cheers. :)

  • JungEnd

    I saw “IT” this past weekend and I have to say I left disappointed. It felt like an overlong “Stranger Things” and “Nightmare on Elm Street ” (not the original which was scary, but one of the many lame sequels) rehash. The horror portion was tiresome and obvious with too much CGI. How many times is this clown going to pop in and ham it up without doing anything? I enjoyed the kid’s interplay and the 80’s namedropping more, but as a horror movie, I think it failed.

    Many of these comments are cancer. Fans will continue to blow, as I like to say.

  • James Cumberland

    Well, you don’t HAVE to trust me, but you should. This isn’t the full movie.

  • James Cumberland

    why would you want to change anything beyond set dressing?

    Also, didn’t your review go on about how this was all 80s nostalgia appeal? Endless pandering?

  • Danielm80

    She’s not talking about nostalgia for the actual ’80s. She’s talking about the movies made in the 1980s, which some of us loved when we were growing up.

    The problem, for MaryAnn, is that the movie doesn’t add anything new or original to those films. It just repeats the stock characters and standard plot elements that we saw over and over again at least three decades ago. And for people who have really fond memories of Spielberg and John Hughes and Chris Columbus, among others, maybe it’s pleasant enough just to be reminded of their old films. But some people want more than a reminder of the past. They want more than tropes and clichés and stereotypes. And if the movie provided that for you, that’s great. But for MaryAnn, everything in the film felt much too familiar.

    And maybe the original book is terrific.

    And maybe the early drafts of the screenplay were terrific.

    And maybe the sequel two years from now will be terrific.

    But if the movie that’s on the screen right now isn’t also terrific, then there’s no reason to watch it. We’d be better off staying home and reading the book, or watching great movies from the ’80s.

  • Tonio Kruger

    You could claim to be a “Big fan of Mario Puzo” and then go on to say that you’d never read The Godfather I guess. It’d be a weird and confusing claim though.

    Not if you prefer, say, The Dark Arena or The Fortunate Pilgrim to The Godfather.

    But then being a big fan of any writer doesn’t necessarily mean you like everything he or she wrote. Just ask any fan of Robert Heinlein.

  • Tonio Kruger

    No, it shouldn’t.

  • Tonio Kruger

    That’s an odd thing to say about a person who wrote a whole book about how much she loves The Princess Bride and who recently gave a green-light review to the recent re-release of the second Terminator movie.

  • Tonio Kruger

    This is an odd remark to make in defense of a movie based on a novel in which one of the chief villains is a woman-beater and one of the most dramatic scenes in the original novel — Warning SPOILERS — involves one of Bev’s friends getting the shit beat out of her because she refused to give any information to the villain in question.

    Then I suspect you’d find a lot of “girl power politics” in Stephen King novels like Gerald’s Game and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Shame on him. ;-)

  • James Cumberland

    THAT’S THE POINT! How do you see all these puzzle pieces and not put them together? You say you don’t see societal fault, and yet here you’re saying that it’s odd that the town isn’t in an uproar.

    Read between the lines.

  • James Cumberland

    It is as a functioning symbol when it’s accompanied by the supernatural.

  • James Cumberland

    even if the sequel plans to explore that aspect that you cry missing?

    It’s like you walked out of Fellowship of the Ring and said “meh, they didn’t explore Gollum’s back-story.”

  • James Cumberland

    Ok, so unless she’s accusing the movie of being a pastiche montage of 80s tropes that appeal to nostalgia, what is she saying?

    Because if that’s what she saw, then we watched different movies.

  • James Cumberland

    This is PART ONE of a two part movie! The story isn’t done, so talking about exclusions (which have been stated to be included in the next part) are irrelevant; until the next part comes out.

    It’s a unique sort of cinematic roll-out, so I get how a critic could miss the way it works. But the condescension and disregard for people who have actually read the book, and followed what the director has said is planned for the sequel… It’s dizzying to try to rationally argue a point without getting to the central issue here:

    You have only seen half of the story. You’re complaining about the whole story.

  • James Cumberland

    Oh my god, if you’re a big fan of Mario Puzo, and for SOME reason you’ve avoided reading The Godfather, you’re a unique and special sort of fan… and that’s worthy of further dissection, not some blasé caveat

  • did the movie give you any urges to add IT to your list of consumed King novels?

    Yes, just to see how much better the story and characters are probably handled.

    *The Stand* is one of my favorite books by any author.

  • why would you want to change anything beyond set dressing?

    Why? To make it feel like it’s actually occurring in the 1980s.

    didn’t your review go on about how this was all 80s nostalgia appeal?

    I suspect you understand perfectly well the difference between when a story is set and when it was made. Here’s an example that has nothing to do with this movie: *Happy Days* was set in the 1950s, but it was very much a 1970s sitcom full of the storytelling tropes and techniques of the era. *It* was made in the 2010s but feels like it was made in the 80s. Get it?

  • The story wasn’t done when *The Empire Strikes Back* ended on a cliffhanger, and yet it was a satisfying story on its own anyway.

    It’s a unique sort of cinematic roll-out

    No, it isn’t.

    the condescension and disregard for people who have actually read the book

    No such thing going on here. But your condescension is really starting to grate. I think it’s time to stopped beating this dead horse.

  • I saw the pieces. They were scattered randomly around, not fitted together in such a way as to make a strong story.

  • King has written a shit-ton more novels than Puzo.

    Enough with this!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Or… OR… I’m spitballing so stay with me… other people besides you, um what’s the word… exist.

  • James Cumberland

    no kidding?! Because that’s what I’m doing right there, disagreeing with another person’s critical take-away!


  • James Cumberland

    Well, again, this is half of the story. If you want to see the larger picture, wait for the follow up chapter, or read the book if you want to know if Frodo ever makes it to Mordor.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dude there are over 200 comments now on this review. You’ve written like 50 of them, mostly to express your utter inability to comprehend any other view of this movie. So, no. Whatever it is you think you’re doing is not what you’re doing.

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  • James Cumberland

    Disagreeing vehemently with someone’s take? Look, if you want to accuse me of being solipsistic, then address SOMETHING that I actually said as a counter foil to my rebuttal. Otherwise, you’re just saying my opinion doesn’t matter…

    Which is solipsistic. Dude.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Ugh, on top of everything else, you’re boring.

  • James Cumberland

    and you’re just so fascinating

  • Dr.Megan

    The movie or the novel?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The correct phraseology here, James, is “I’m rubber, you’re glue…”.

  • amanohyo

    After watching It, I generally agree with the review. The first act is literally a haunted house carnival ride with evenly spaced jump-scares and no connecting tissue from scene to scene. The second and third acts lean even more heavily on repetitive trop tropey CGI twists which by that time have lost the power to even mildly startle. The filmmakers cast a lanky Lou Diamond Phillips, a mini Fred Savage, a cursing Lewis Skolnick, and a more stereotypically attractive Molly Ringwald (at least this is referenced in the movie) – there are scenes ripped directly from Goonies, E.T., and Breaking Away. Retro is in, so maybe these homages are a plus for a lot of people. I grew up in the 80’s, I know the 80’s, the 80’s were a friend of mine, and claiming that this film represents the 80’s (rather than a specific genre of 80’s movie) is as bad as claiming that Grease is a historically accurate depiction of the 50’s.

    My biggest beef is that there are no surprises. You can almost predict the act transitions by looking at your watch. Admittedly, some of the child actors are very good, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Sophia Lillis are especially awesome as chubby infodumpster and spunky smurfette. The opening boat sequence is perfect, but ultimately this is the very definition of mediocre horror – stock characters hanging predictably off of a paint by numbers plot. King had enough pages to breath some life into this dusty corpse of a story, but condensed as it is here, it stinks. The scariest moment in the whole thing was when I reached for my drink and accidentally elbowed the raise button on the recliner. If Ben and Bill end up fighting over Beverly in the second movie, I’m going to roll my eyes hard enough to snap my optic nerves.

  • Since you were commenting on my review of the movie, why not start there?

  • Dr.Megan

    I thought the movie succeeded at being a memorable film with good cast, excellent creep factor, some jump scares, well-developed characters, and some good set pieces. It failed as an outright “horror” movie, but succeeded in every other way.

  • Gotham Knight

    Truly bad. It was like a high school filmmaker given a big budget to film his favorite novel he read when he was thirteen.

  • Gotham Knight

    Stinky film with bad acting and incredibly bad dialogue. Unfortunately, film today appeals to the lowest common denominator.

  • Gotham Knight

    What’s in the film is a big budget and bad workmanship. The acting was bad, and the script was laughable.

  • Gotham Knight

    The movie should stand alone. In that regard, “It” was awful. Movie making for teens with potty mouths and limited imaginations.

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