‘It’ (2017) film review
By Katie Czenczek, Staff Writer
The film adaptation of what is arguably one of Stephen King’s best novels, the 2017 film It, has to grapple with the expectations of a long-awaited movie series—a feat that is even more challenging due to the novel’s hefty 1,134 pages. Granted, the film seems to have covered only half of the novel. Not only does the film deliver on surpassing the expectations laid out for It, but the film does so while also making a few key changes to the original content.
The film follows the lives of several children who are outcasts within their community, and who are terrorized by a shapeshifting being who takes the preferred form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. These seven kids are all supposed to have fears that connect to the adults within their lives as the book describes. I would argue that the film only managed to portray Beverly’s and Eddie’s fear of the adults in their lives effectively. However, that is inevitable when adapting a novel with that many important characters.
The predominantly child-filled cast manages to convey these characters meaningfully, with special nods to Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard who played Ben, Beverly, and Richie, respectively. Taylor’s and Lillis’ portrayals had me rooting for Ben and Beverly throughout the entire movie, and their on-camera chemistry kept me hoping that they would end up together in the end. Wolfhard’s character was the perfect way to lighten the often-dark film, which allowed for terrifying moments to be that much more horrifying because his goofiness enabled the viewer to temporarily forget that they were watching a horror film.
It also made a risky change to the setting by having the story take place 30 years later than the book’s. The film adaptation was set in the 1980s, a change that impacted a part of the story that I would have liked to have seen discussed more in the film. The 1950s setting of the novel went more in depth about the racial tensions occurring in America at that time, whereas the 1980s setting almost completely overlooked this intriguing element to the novel.
There was also a neat Easter egg for die-hard Stephen King fans who were awaiting Maturin, the cosmic turtle. The turtle is a mystical being who is said to have created the universe during a particularly bad stomach-ache that caused him to throw up the universe. He is Pennywise’s nemesis and helps the children defeat It within the novel. Maturin is nodded to during the lake scene when the kids mention a turtle after cliff jumping, and when Bill brings Georgie’s Lego turtle into the basement after following Georgie’s muddy footprints.
Although there were a few changes made to the story, It managed to convey what the book is all about. In changing some details, the film was not too overly complicated and therefore did not alienate new fans, but still managed to respect the fans that have been there since the novel was first published. I am looking forward to seeing where they take the sequel, in hopes that the film will do better than the miniseries in making the adult Loser Club just as dynamic as the children.