As for the bad, there’s a fair amount to be said, as well. For me, the main issue was that due to the large ensemble cast and the limited screen time, each character often amounted to a three scene arc. An introduction, a showcase of their fear, and a mild payoff. While it’s admirable the movie delivered payoffs for each character, it felt strained. I felt a large amount of players in the Losers Club, while not criminally underdeveloped, missed an opportunity to do more.
Mike, the home-schooled kid who is treated as an outsider due to being seemingly the only black kid in Derry, Maine, felt like he talked in the movie maybe a total of three times. Richie, who stole several scenes with his banter, lacked character development — he didn’t even receive his own individualized moment of meeting the clown. Stan, the uptight, potentially OCD one, had a standout introduction moment, but was mostly left in the background, and the film didn’t deliver on his arc from the novel of going from the most skeptical to the most afraid — it only hinted at the development, but it is core to his character for the upcoming sequel, assuming they follow the plot faithfully as they did here.
The movie focuses primarily on Bill and Bev, granting them a great deal more screen time than any of the supporting characters. It’s not that I wish these characters had gotten less time. I wish the movie had given each other character about 20% more.
Another issue with the film was that it lacked stakes due to a combination of its plot and its use of CGI. At no point did Pennywise feel like a real threat. By and large, It was more of a jack-in-the-box than a murderer. He would show up and taunt the children, sit on them and yell in their face, or grab them and let go, but he, unbelievably, repeatedly missed every easy opportunity to murder and devour the kids. By ten minutes into the movie, you figured out all of these kids had major plot armor. It felt less like a murderer was hunting the children of Derry, and more like the children of Derry were in a horror-themed escape room or a theme park horror attraction — where you have the comfort of knowing although the actor in the haunted house might be scary, they can’t actually touch you or harm you.
The CGI assisted in this effect. Maybe four or five times, It appeared and rushed at the kids, wailing, only to give up the chase or be stopped by outside influence each time. By the second or third time, if felt like shtick. The look of It during these sequences came across with a very toy-like vibe. The best example here is the projector scene, where a giant, viciously-toothed It pops out of a project and chases the kids around for a moment before disappearing. It felt and looked like the kids were being chased around by an animatronic dinosaur from the Jurassic Park ride. That’s not to say these scenes weren’t enjoyable — the special effects actually looked pretty cool. It just wasn’t scary, and there was no sense of fear for the lives of these kids, which undermined the whole opening act of showcasing It as a murderer of children who has no issue with over the top violence. He’s not killing them. He’s just messing with them.
That said, there’s a certain amount of positive to that, which is this may very well be an awesome Halloween movie for people who don’t normally enjoy horror. The gore isn’t that gory, the jump scares are heavily telegraphed and more cool than scary, and the backbone of the whole thing is a coming of age story supported by a plethora of amazing performances.
All in all, I give It an A-. I’m excited to see the sequel!
What did you think of It? Let me know in the comments below.