Steve did such an outstanding job with his review of IT, I honestly don’t feel I have anything to add.
So here’s the movie’s report card.
Adaptation from the novel: A+
All the changes the screenwriters made were in keeping with the original soul of the book, which is what matters.
Casting of child actors: A+
The kids all had insane talent, bringing completely natural and 100% believable performances to the screen.
When a child actor can giggle without it seeming forced, act frightened without it seeming like an act, and banter with other child actors without it seeming like he’s reading cue cards, I’m impressed. These kids nailed it.
Casting of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise: A+
When I heard they were casting Skarsgård as Pennywise, the name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place him. I had to look him up on IMDb. I’d seen him in Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, one of the first Netflix produced series I watched, and probably my least favorite. Not Skarsgård’s fault at all – it was the writing that didn’t work for me.
Anyway, I had no strong expectations regarding his performance as Pennywise at all. Turns out he was fantastic. He did this thing with his lips and his voice when he spoke that was at once fascinating and horrifying. I loved it.
Craft (no, not the snacks – art direction, costume design, etc.): A+
The movie looks right. The standpipe and the barrens and the house on Neibolt Street all look exactly the way I imagined them when reading the book, even if the movie did push the narrative date up a couple of decades.
Speaking of those decades, the production didn’t nail the 80s with quite as much untampered delight as the Duffers did in Stranger Things, but they also didn’t need to. In Stranger Things, the time period was practically another character; in IT, that was not the intention.
All the other production stuff (directing, cinematography, special effects, etc.): A+
It’s all good. All of it. The movie looks great. It’s engaging and exciting and sometimes funny and sometimes scary. It’s a Stephen King book brought to life, which is a treasure.
Final Grade: A+
Nomination possibilities: The Academy rarely honors horror films – especially not blockbuster ones – with major nominations. I wouldn’t look for a best picture nod or any acting nominations. Visual effects and sound will surely be nominated. The soundtrack might be as well. I would love to see an adapted screenplay nomination in the mix.
Regardless of the Academy’s opinion IT is definitely one of the best films to come out so far this year, and I am sure it will be in my top 5.