Monday, September 25, 2017

Looking at Movies - IT (2017)

Hollywood has yet to prove to me that it can take a Stephen King story and turn it into an entertaining movie. Stephen King is one of the most brilliant and detail-oriented writers of our time. He sets moods, and then he weaves his story together gradually. There is no way an 800-page book that relies on every page to tell the story can be adapted into a good movie. While movies are simply adaptations to books, they should still be able to stand on their own. With IT, we have yet another King movie that absolutely does not do the story justice, much less the book.

My wife and I went to see IT because we are both King fans and she has a running record of seeing everything that has ever been adapted from a King story. There has been a nasty trend in Hollywood lately of trying to adapt stories into movies, but still leaving so much of the story open that you have to read the book to understand anything. My wife is like many people in that she reads hundreds of books a year; I manage to get my couple of dozen in. What I do is watch movies - hundreds of them a year. And I am getting tired of the inability to adapt a great story into a decent movie. That loss of quality from book to movie is glaringly evident in Stephen King adaptations.

Discussing Stephen King movies is always a hot topic because King fans are in love with the books, rightfully so, and they never want to hear how Hollywood ruined an adaptation. So let's start this off with a disclaimer:

This review is about the 2017 movie IT. This is not a review of the book by Stephen King, and it is not any kind of condemnation or approval of King's material. This is only about the movie. Relax.
The movie dragged for the first hour. My mind was trying to take everything in and piece a story together, but I wasn't having much success. As the movie picked up steam, it did start to get really interesting. Like a King book, it did take time for the many pieces of the story to come together, but not every piece seemed to fit. I think the movie tried to do too much. Instead of telling its own adaptation of the story, I think that it was trying to be all things to every audience. That seems to be a trend lately as I feel like I need to read the books to see the newest movies coming out. It is a trend that bothers me. I like the movies that can stand on their own and newer movies don't seem to want to do that.

I wasn't scared of Pennywise. I wanted to be,  but I wasn't. I wanted to be terrified of what was going on, but I just wasn't. When I read King's words on paper, they can terrify me. I don't understand how that cannot be adapted successfully to a visual medium. But when Hollywood takes a crack at a King book, it just cannot make the movies as interesting or frightening as the books.

Maybe Stanley Kubrick had it right when he basically threw the book away for The Shining and did his own thing. That is what an adaptation is supposed to be, and it is a very good movie. I enjoyed The Dark Tower movie more than IT, and I really didn't enjoy The Dark Tower very much. This movie took the claws off of a terrifying monster and made him a minor inconvenience. Towards the end of the story, things really started to open up. But then the whole thing ended, and now we have to wait for Chapter 2 to see what happens next.

When Star Wars Episode IV ended, it felt like a complete story unto itself. We did not need to wait for Episode V to explain anything that happened in Episode IV. My brain was working overtime to understand IT, and I just could not put something together I was happy with. I am not even sure I care if I see Chapter 2. There was so much that could have been done with this movie, but very little of it was actually done.

Rating: 2 out of 5

George N Root III is a movie fanatic who spends lots of time each year watching movies. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at