I never understood the fanaticism that surrounded Stephen King’s It, particularly the mini-series that starred Tim Curry. Although perfectly serviceable in its own right, it exhibited the worst traits of its author: over-long, largely confusing and far too entrenched in the Dark Tower series to really stand on its own.
That last part, more than anything, has always been a sticking point for me. What exactly is It? Why does it transform into a spider? What exactly is the significance of the turtle? Read an entirely separate book series, and its related stories, and you might just figure that out.
So when it was announced that there was going to be a remake of the “classic” mini-series, I welcomed it: not because I was a fan of the nearly four hour televisual epic, but because this might actually be the time that they make it work as a stand-alone movie. Tim Curry was an amazing Pennywise, but his whole getup was far too silly to every be scary. The story with the kids fighting back against the nightmarish creature plaguing their small town was engrossing, but its narrative fidelity to the novel forced it to keep some of the weirder plot elements that only ever worked as part of the greater Stephen King-verse. Halving the run time and upping its budget weren’t going to hurt things either.
And now that we’ve gotten out first look at the movie by way of its trailer, I have to say that I’m looking forward to It more than I had been. Sure, Bill Skarsgard is no Tim Curry, but he’ll do in a pinch and the creature’s character design is far more menacing than Curry’s brightly-lit Pennywise. The set design is more unquieting and the largely juvenile cast looks to be a considerable improvement over the original.
I still have my doubts about the project, sure. Cash-in remakes rarely are as good as the original, and the original in this case was hardly inspiring to begin with. Large swaths of the narrative are still devoted to developing the greater cosmology of the Dark Tower series, and this film is utterly disconnected from the Dark Tower movie coming out later this year. Most of the scares we saw in the trailer look like the kind of situation that are more frightening to read about than they are to see.
For now, however, it’s enough that the trailer looks good. Five months out from its release and the movie looks like it’s a well-crafted screamer that’s at least worth my time, if not my money. In the meantime, I’ll remain hopeful about the movie until it gives me a reason not to be.
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