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Toy Fair 2019: Mezco Reveals New One:12 Collective and their 5 Point Line of Figures

Mezco Toyz brought lots of new figures to Toy Fair 2019 expanding their One:12 Collective line of figures. They debuted a new property in They Live, Hellboy, and IT, and showed off new DC and Marvel figures.

New figures include a new Wonder Woman, Moon Knight, Gambit, Batman (1989), Ultimate Batman, Ghost Rider with motorcycle, and the already announced Captain Marvel. Magneto gets a release date of “Holiday 2019,” Harley Quinn will be released in “Holiday 2019,” and Black Bolt and Lockjaw will be released in 2020.

They also debuted their 5 Points line which features Scooby Doo, Six Million Dollar Man, Space Ghost, Birdman, The Warriors, and Adams Family.

The Best Movies of 2017

No getting around it: 2017 was a slog. But, to get us through the stress of life, at least we could escape for an hour or two into some of the most amazing worlds.

It’s also been an amazing year for the comic book movie and, indeed, all blockbusters. This year the genre really grew up, with complex and challenging fare that deconstructed some of our favorite characters and took them to the next level.

I had a hard time paring it down to just a top 10, so I’m presenting a somewhat more expanded list of things worth seeing and celebrating in 2017. Never before have I had a hair’s breadth separating my top 5, and my top 20 are all worth checking out.

So I’m going to give you the best and then the rest– my top 10 and then the rest of the movies that made my list. Where I reviewed the movie for Graphic Policy, I have also provided a link. To those from before I joined the site or didn’t get a chance to do a full review, oh well. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Oh, and if you care about such things, my bottom 10 list is here.

10. Coco — This is one of Pixar’s best and one of the movies most likely to make me cry. While it has some second act problems, its universal themes of family and remembering are as beautiful as the animation and music here. This is also the first movie in my top 10 with an amazing soundtrack — a common theme among 2017’s best movies.

9. Baby Driver — A musical with car chases. The only problem with this movie is its opening fifteen minutes are so perfect it rarely meets that same level again. This is the movie Edgar Wright did after breaking with Marvel over creative differences about Ant-Man. We are so much the richer for having both of these movies, especially Baby Driver. With career-best performances by some of its cast, it’s a perfect blend of editing, directing, acting, and sound. And it’s just a load of fun.

8. Wonder Woman – Patty Jenkins should be put in charge of the entire DC movie universe. She understands her characters, she understands the gravity and importance they hold for people, and managed to deliver THE iconic moment of 2017 in cinema: the “No Man’s Land” scene.

It’s that moment– when she wears the costume, embraces her powers and her purpose — that we see her origin story in a way rarely ever so fully expressed on screen. Sure, the movie had some problems– a weak villain and a somewhat predictable climax — but it was important in a way few other films in this list were. And it showed that the DCEU could be everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe could. It’s not only one of the best comic movies of 2017, it’s one of the best of all time.

7. Atomic Blonde — Technically, a comic book movie. And the movie with the best soundtrack of the year, during which we see Charlize Theron kick all sorts of butt. It’s heartfelt, funny, and undeniably cool as they try to out-John-Wick John Wick. Give me more of this, please, perhaps in a shared universe where Charlize and Keanu throw down and then invariably team up.

6. The Shape of Water – What a beautiful film about love among outcasts. The entirety of this film is about noticing the silent people, the forgotten ones, and recognizing the humanity in each of us. Also, sex with fish-people! This is a masterpiece by Guillermo del Toro and worthy of all the nominations and buzz it’s been getting.

5. War for the Planet of the Apes – This is true for basically every other film in my top 5, but this film showed us that effects-driven blockbusters could have intense heart and meaning. It’s unfathomable to me that Gary Oldman will be nominated for acting awards for wearing a fatsuit and portraying Winston Churchill, but Andy Serkis will be snubbed yet again for his creation of an amazingly real character in Caesar. It’s unclear where the Apes franchise goes from here — and writer/director Matt Reeves is setting his sights next on righting The Batman (which makes me all sorts of excited) — but whatever happens, they created an amazing trilogy with a phenomenal third act. Perhaps the only downside is that the social commentary that hits so close for 2017 (humans building a wall as well as other not-so-subtle jabs at Trump) may not age particularly well.

4. Logan – “A man has to be what he is, Joey. Can’t break the mold. I tried it and it didn’t work for me. There’s no living with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her… tell her everything’s all right. And there aren’t any more guns in the valley.” James Mangold gave us a perfect western that just happened to have Wolverine and Professor X in it. And Jackman and Stewart are amazing. Ok, I lied about Coco. THIS is the most likely thing to make me cry in any movie in 2017.

3. (tie) Your Name – Normally I won’t give in to a tie, but since there is some doubt whether or not this is even a 2017 release (I go by date of wide US release, so that puts us in April of 2017), I’ll go for it. Already the #1 animated film of all time in Japan (with good reason), I’m not sure why this hasn’t become more popular in the US. But that’s what year-end lists are for, right? A story of (literal) star-crossed teens in Japan who seem to be switching bodies becomes the most interesting story of identity, love, and wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey time travel ever. It made me cry at least three times. It’s an amazing film and one which would’ve been in my top 3 for 2016 if I’d known of it then. If that disqualifies it from this list, then my #3 spot goes to. . .


3. (tie) Star Wars: The Last Jedi – It’s amazing. You know this. I love it for all the ways it blows open the Star Wars universe into something even bigger and more important. Plus, porgs. It, Logan, and Apes all showed that blockbuster filmmaking could be thoughtful and not just deliver a rehash of the expectations of the franchise. Star Wars is my favorite thing of all time, and this delivers in ways I didn’t know were possible. I’m greatly anticipating both Episodes IX and the new trilogy Rian Johnson will deliver to us.

2. Get Out – Usually a movie will come out early in the year and become a high water mark for me for the year. Then every film I see after I’ll just ask, “Was this better than [Get Out]?” Few movies made it close, but it stands strong at the end of the year as the most important movie of 2017 and only a hair’s breadth off of my #1. This was such an amazing effort from Jordan Peele. It was an atmospheric, psychological thriller and the most biting social commentary of the decade– and exactly what we need to hear in 2017. Unfortunately, the people who most need to see and understand this film never will.

1. Blade Runner 2049 – I’m still not sure why this failed to resonate with audiences. It was supremely beautiful, important, thoughtful—in essence, the opposite of the Spirit of 2017, so I guess it makes sense. It’s shameful to see this getting forgotten in so many year-end lists and awards considerations. If Roger Deakins doesn’t win a cinematography Oscar for this, we have failed as a society.

So, that’s it. Here’s the rest of my list:

11. A Monster Calls — All the tears for this gorgeous and touching film that somehow never caught on.

12. Detroit — If Blade Runner hadn’t flopped at the box office, this is my vote for most underrated movie of 2017.

13. Spider-Man: Homecoming – This was the Spider-Man movie we needed, with John Hughes meets the MCU. Let’s hope Sony and Marvel’s partnership continue to yield such spectacular results.

14. The Big Sick — The best comedy of the year, Kumail Nanjiani’s true story of clashes of cultures and medically induced comas is amazing and worth everyone’s time.

15. Beatriz at Dinner — This should be renamed “Micro-aggressions the Movie” as massage therapist Beatriz (an impeccable and Oscar-worthy  Salma Hayek) ends up at a dinner party thrown by one of her high end clients facing off against a Donald-Trump type developer (an equally impeccable Jon Lithgow). It’s amazing and the ending will depress the hell out of you.

16. The Greatest Showman — Hugh Jackman took the money he made from Logan and used it to produce this musical ostensibly about PT Barnum but in reality about the strange and wonderful family among society’s outcasts and “freaks” that make up his circus. If I could put the historical revisionism aside, this would end up in my top 10, but Barnum was a monster. But as a story about putting people of all shapes, colors, and abilities up on screen and seeing them as people? This is tops. Keala Settle, who plays the bearded lady, deserves an Oscar nomination. And this will get multiple nominations for best song, from the people who brought you La La Land last year.

17. Brigsby Bear – What if you were kidnapped as a child and the only media your reclusive parents let you watch was a specially-made-for-you childrens’ program? This film from the mind of SNL’s Kyle Mooney then becomes a unique, innocent look at the pure joy of fandom and sharing something you love with new people and the lengths you’d go to do it. Also featuring a supporting role by Mark Hammil, this is another great little film that flew under the radar but is worth your attention.

18. Thor: Ragnarok — This is Thor’s best movie to date and one of the most fun movies ever in the MCU. Some people complained the movie had “too many jokes,” but making a buddy comedy with superheroes is something that was long overdue and sorely needed late in 2017. Whatever writer/director Taika Waititi is doing next, I’m watching it.

19. The Disaster Artist — The movie that launched a thousand terrible reaction gifs finally gets its Ed Wood treatment. The Room is awful, but somehow James and Dave Franco make us fall in love with it and its mysterious director Tommy Wiseau. For that, and their loving shot for shot recreations of some of the film’s most heinous scenes, this was incredibly fun. It’s also the type of movie Hollywood loves– a movie about making movies.

20. Molly’s Game — A superserving of Sorkin will hit all the right notes for his fans.

21. Okja — If The Disaster Artist is to The Room what Ed Wood is to Plan 9 From Outer Space, then this satire from Bong Joon-ho (thanks to Netflix for making it) is the Dr. Strangelove of global agribusiness and capitalism. It took this movie a while to take off, but when it did, it became intensely satisfying. When it wasn’t skewering the corporation that totally wasn’t Monsanto, it was also just a tender story about a girl and her giant genetically modified pet “super pig.”

22. The Post — Steven Spielberg’s latest is perhaps the most important movie for the turn of 2017 to 2018 about the decision to print the Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post. Buried in the Oscarbait is an important story about the freedom of the press and a rogue White House intent on crushing it. I just wish it was told slightly better and that 80% of the time I wasn’t wishing I were watching All the President’s Men or The Fog of War. 

23. The Lego Batman Movie — A movie about family, a movie about feminism, and just the greatest mishmash of toy mayhem ever seen on screen. This was the best Batman we saw on screen all year.

24. Dunkirk — I won’t lie, I had some problems with Dunkirk. Mostly I thought Nolan was spending too much time showing us how clever he was instead of just giving us a good movie. But I can’t deny the artistry and pure filmmaking prowess that went into this. I still think the best way to illuminate my problems is to compare it to Detroit, which I did in my review here. 

25. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” may be one of my favorite moments on screen all year. And then, that ending was just too perfect. This movie had a lot going for it, but the fact that it ended up at #25 is a testament to just how good so many movies were this year.

26. IT — This was everything we needed in the fall of 2017. Funny, smart, and incredibly scary, it also gave us one of the best comedy moments of the year, too, with an SNL skit of Kellyanne Conway as Kellywise the Clown trying to lure Anderson Cooper into the Trump Sewer.

27. John Wick Chapter 2 — Sometimes sequels really deliver, and this was one instance of that. Once again, we get the beautiful ultra-violence of this universe and without all of that boring exposition or deeper meaning. Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn, and for that, there’s always John Wick.

28. Power Rangers — This might surprise people, but I liked the Power Rangers movie far more than it deserved. Never a fan of the original, this still brought me in with it intense heart and third act action sequence that dared you not to smile from ear to ear. Oh, and also Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa was a thing of beauty. Say it with me: “Krispy Kreme.”

29. Wind River — Taylor Sheridan knocks it out of the park again with an amazing script about a murder mystery and the intersection of the oil industry and reservation life. How does one get justice in the face of corporate coverups and mixed jurisdiction? The scene with Jon Berenthal is one of the most gripping and brutal things I saw all year.

30. [tie] It Comes at Night — Speaking of inhumanity and suspense, we get a case study in minimalism of just how much a director can do with basic sets and a basic premise: a plague wipes out most of humanity and one family must make decisions about whether or not to trust strangers to guarantee their survival. The title is misleading and don’t get snookered into thinking anything more supernatural is happening. There’s no monsters. Just death. Just people. And that’s the true horror.

[tie] Ingrid Goes West — Again, I hate ties, but I feel like this provides a great counterpoint to It Comes at Night. Except in this case, the monster that haunts us is social media, stalking, and depression. Aubrey Plaza is perfect as Ingrid, who moves to LA and ends up stalking an “Instagram celebrity” played by Elizabeth Olson to try to find her way into her life. O’Shea Jackson (Jr.) shows up as a Batman-obsessed would-be screenwriter. The final reveal of the film almost feels like the end of a slasher movie when we see the killer supernaturally rises from where we thought we had killed it. Fun and thoughtful.

So, yeah, that’s a lot of movies. To be fair, there were a few I missed, so apologies. But what about you? What did I miss? What did I overrate? What did I underrate?

Let us know, and here’s hoping we have as amazing a 2018 as we did a 2017– at least in movies. And from Black Panther in February to Mary Poppins in December with Avengers: Infinity War, Solo, and Incredibles 2 in between, my expectations are set abnormally and unreasonably high.

Let’s see what 2018 gives us.

Scott Lobdell’s Happy Death Day Wins the Weekend Box Office

It was a happy weekend for Happy Death Day which topped the box office dethroning Blade Runner 2049, last weekend’s winner. Written by comic writer Scott Lobdell and directed by Christopher B. Landon, the $4.8 million budgeted film earned an estimated $26.5 million at the domestic weekend box office and an additional $5 million at the foreign box office. The film scored a “B” CinemaScore and was 54% female and 46% male of which 63% were under the age of 25. The film should do well and make Universal and Blumhouse a decent amount of change before its run is done.

Blade Runner 2049 dropped to second in its second week adding $15.1 million to its domestic total to bring that to $60.6 million. That film added $29.3 million to its international earnings to bring that to $98 million for a worldwide total of $158.6 million after two weeks on a $150 million budget. The film has yet to open in China and Japan and both of those are on October 27. Expect a big boost that weekend.

The Foreigner debuted in third place with $12.8 million beating expectations. The film has already been open overseas where it has earned $88.4 million on a $35 million budget.

In fourth place was It which added $6.1 million to its domestic total. The film has brought in a monster $314.9 million domestically and $630.6 million worldwide on just a $35 million budget. When 2017 wraps, this will be one of the films people will be studying and trying to repeat.

Rounding out the top five was The Mountain Between Us which added $5.7 million to its domestic total bringing that to $20.5 million. The film has earned $30.2 million worldwide.

Of note for comic fans…

The controversial “biopic” of the creator of Wonder Woman, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women crashed and burned with just $737,000 from 1,229 theaters. That’s just $600 a theater and the 18th worst debut of all-time. The audience was 52% female and 70% over the age of 25. Distribution rights for the US went for $1 million. So… yeah.

We’ll have a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations in an hour.

Blade Runner 2049 Takes First Place at the Weekend Box Office

When does coming in first still mean you’ve failed? When it comes to the movie box office, that’s when. Blade Runner 2049 won the weekend box office bringing in an estimated $31.5 million. Expectations had the film opening somewhere between $41-$55 million. Those expectations seem to forget that the original film was considered a failure when it first opened and it has only gained popularity and a cult following over the years since.

The film debuted overseas with $50.2 million which met expectations for that. The $150 million film opened with $81.7 million. Another example of the fact the international box office is what matters now. The movie falls into the 60/40 international/domestic ratio we’d expect for modern films’ earnings.

The movie was 71% male vs. 29% female, of which 63% of the total audience was over the age of 35. It did receive an “A-” CinemaScore. It’s possible word of mouth may help the film but it has a short window to make up ground domestically.

In second place was another new film The Mountain Between Us which earned $10.1 million. The film’s budget is just $35 million so should do well enough to make that back over the long run.

In third place was It which dropped from second last weekend. The film added $9.7 million to its domestic total and has earned $304.9 million domestically and $603.7 million on a budget of just $35 million.

In fourth place was another new film, My Little Pony: The Movie which debuted with $8.8 million domestically and $3.8 million at the foreign box office. The film met or barely beat expectations.

Rounding out the top five was the comic adaptation Kingsman: The Golden Circle which dropped from first to fifth adding $8.1 million to its domestic total. The film’s domestic total is just under $80 million and foreign is $173.6 million for a total of $253.6 million on a $104 million budget. The film lags behind the original but it currently ranks about the same for the year, so it’s possible the film is suffering from the year’s issues.

We’ll be back in an hour to take a look at this year’s comic adaptations and where things stand.

It Looks to Regain the Top in a Close Race with American Made

It currently has scared up enough money to retake the top of the box office earning an estimated $17.3 million. The film had slipped to second last week. The film has earned a monstrous $291.2 million domestically on a $35 million budget. The film has also earned an estimated $262 million at the foreign box office for a worldwide total of $553.2 million.

In second place was Tom Cruise’s American Made which earned an estimated $17.02 million on a $50 budget. That total is better than Cruise’s 2012 Jack Reacher. The movie has been playing since August internationally where it has already earned $64.7 million to bring its total to $81.7 million.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle dropped to third with a 56.4% decrease in its second weekend. Domestically, the film has earned $66.7 million and internationally it has earned $126.2 million for a total of $192.9 million. Domestically the film is lagging the first at the same point in its run. But, internationally the film is ahead where the original was at this point. It still has to open in France in mid-October, China on October 20, and Japan January 5. The original earned $414.4 million for its complete run.

Things may shift a bit for the top three when the official numbers are released.

Dropping from third to fourth was The LEGO Ninjago Movie which added $12 million to its domestic total. After two weeks, the film has earned $35.6 million. Internationally, the film has earned $22.7 million for a global total of $58 million. That’s far below the previous two Lego films.

Another debut rounded out the top five. Flatliners, a remake of a 1990 film, opened with $6.7 million. That was less than the original made 27 years ago. The film had a budget of just $19 million but it had a challenge to do well with It being such a hit and the same genre. The film also brought in $3.1 million from overseas. It won’t be a disaster and will cover the budget but it’s another example of a remake that wasn’t needed or wanted. A closer opening to Halloween might have benefited the film.

When it comes to comic adaptations….

Spider-Man: Homecoming came in at #18 adding $600,000 to its domestic total. Domestically the film has earned $332.7 million and at the foreign box office it has earned $542.4 million for a worldwide total of $875.1 million.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptation stats.

This coming weekend Blade Runner 2049 will likely dominate the box office while My Little Pony makes its debut.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Tops the Box Office While LEGO Ninjago Falls Short

Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the top of the box office this past weekend earning an estimated $39 million with a budget of $104 million. That’s an improvement on the $36.2 million opening for the first film in the series which eventually went on to earn $128.3 million domestically and $414.4 worldwide. The sequel also brought in an estimated $61.2 million overseas from 55 territories.

The film received a “B+” CinemaScore and played to an audience that was 58% male, 65% was 25 years or older, and 60% between the ages of 18 and 34.

Coming in second place was It which added $30 million to its domestic total to bring the film to $266.3 million domestically. It’s the highest grossing R-rated horror film of all-time (not adjusted for inflation). Worldwide the film has earned $478 million, a monster haul.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie looks like it’s off to a bumpy start earning $21.2 million which is the lowest opening for a movie in the LEGO franchise and short of expectations. The film received a “B+” CinemaScore, the lowest of the franchise. The film was 48% male and 52% female, and 46% under the age of 18. Internationally, the film also earned an estimated $10.5 million from 37 markets and will roll out in other markets through October. It’s possible two films in the franchise in one year was a misstep.

In fourth place was American Assassin which added $6.3 million to its domestic total to bring that to $26.2 million on a $33 million budget. Worldwide the film has earned $32.3 million after two weeks.

Rounding out the top five was Home Again which added $3.3 million to its domestic total bringing that to $22.3 million off of a $12 million budget.

When it comes to comic movie adaptations….

Spider-Man: Homecoming came in at #11 adding $1.1 million to its total. It now stand at $331.9 million domestically and with its $6 million internationally it now stands at $875 million worldwide making it the highest grossing superhero/comic film of the year.

Atomic Blonde added $81,000 to its domestic total to bring that to $51.5 million domestically and $95.6 million worldwide.

We’ll be back in an hour for a more in-depth look at this year’s comic adaptations.

It Repeats at #1 at the Weekend Box Office Setting a September Record

It has broken records in just eight days with a second weekend haul of $60 million for close to $220 million in ten days domestically. The cume of $218.7 million in ten days is the largest September release ever beating Crocodile Dundee‘s $174.8 million back in 1986. That’s not adjusted for inflation, which when happens, still puts the film in the top ten. It’s just $14.2 million shy of becoming the largest R-rated horror movie of all time.

The film also opened in ten more overseas markets for a total of 56. It grossed an estimated $60.3 million for an international total of $152.6 million bringing the global total to $370 million.

In second place was the new film American Assassin which brought in an estimated $14.8 million. That beat some forecasts and the film received a “B+” CinemaScore from an opening day audience that was 55% male and 45% female with 29% under the age of 35. The film also grossed an estimated $6.2 million internationally.

Darren Aronofsky’s mother! was the talk of the weekend in third place. The film received an “F” CinemaScore, one of only 19 films to ever receive that score. The movie earned an estimated $7.5 million from an audience that was 44% male and 56% female with 18% under the age of 25. Th efilm also earned $6 million internationally for what is a failure all around. Don’t expect this one to last in theaters long, but expect it to become a cult classic in its own way.

Fourth place was held by Home Again which added $5.3 million to its domestic total to bring that to $17.1 million.

Rounding out the top five was The Hitman’s Bodyguard which earned an estimated $3.6 million to its domestic total to bring it to $70.4 million.

When it comes to comic adaptations domestically….

Spider-Man: Homecoming slipped a couple of spots to come in at #9 adding $1.9 million to its total and bring its domestic gross to $330.3 million.

At #25 was Atomic Blonde which added $167,000 to its total to bring it to $51.3 million domestically.

Finally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was #44 adding $28,000 to its domestic total to bring that to $389.8 million.

This coming weekend sees the opening of the next comic adaptation, Kingsman: The Golden Circle which will have stiff competition from The LEGO Ninjago Movie. We’ll have a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations in an hour.

It Floats to the Top With Record-Breaking $123 Million Opening

It had a monster of an opening with a record-setting opening that may have given some life to a anemic domestic box office.

The film had the largest September opening, largest Fall opening, largest opening for an R-rated horror film, and largest opening weekend for a horror film of any MPAA rating. The film accounted for 75% of the combined gross for the top twelve of the weekend.

On top of its $123 domestic earning, It brought in an estimated $62 million form 46 markets for a $185 million total in its first weekend.

In second place was another new film, Home Again, which earned an estimated $9 million.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard was finally bumped from first place winding up in third with an estimated $4.9 million to its total.

In fourth place was Annabelle: Creation which brought in an estimated $4 million domestically.

Finally, rounding out the top five was Wind River which earned $3.2 million domestically.

When it comes to comic movie adaptations….

Spider-Man: Homecoming held steady at #7 adding $2 million to its domestic total. The film opened in China with an estimated $70.8 million.

Wonder Woman added $662,000 to its domestic total and is now the fifth biggest superhero release of all-time.

Atomic Blonde remained at #26 adding $274,000 to its domestic total.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year’s comic movie adaptations.

Movie Review: IT

IT posterContent Warning / Trigger Warning: Sewer Clowns.

The new adaptation of Stephen King‘s It starring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Clown is one of the best scary movies in a long time and even puts itself in the running for one of the best adaptations of King’s work. It’s scary. It’s funny. It’s nostalgic. But most of all, it keeps the focus where it should be — on the kids who call themselves “The Losers Club” — to deliver a poignant, touching story about growing up, loss, fear, and grief. And on top of that, it’s just a great scary movie.

But it’s not just a scary movie. Most surprising is just how funny it is at times. The Losers Club talk more like the kids from South Park (and therefore like your average 13 year old) and the humor helps cut the tension in important ways.

And yes, the film is scary. And not just in the easy-jump-scare-loud-noise scare we’ve become accustomed to. Since the monster feeds on fears, we see supremely disturbing and scary images brought to life. This is layered on top of super-creepy atmosphere that lurks under the idyllic charms of small town pastiche.

Director Andy Muschietti understands his craft and understands how to layer on the fright. Like any good magic trick, there’s the set up, suspense building, and the big reveal.

And the big reveal here is the film’s Pennywise the Clown. While they certainly show plenty of Pennywise in the film, they definitely take a less-is-more approach with him. Bill Skarsgård is fantastic. He’s taking as much of a page from Heath Ledger’s Joker (and Mark Hamill’s Joker) as he is from Tim Curry’s portrayal, and the results are creepy and intense.

The less-is-more approach with Pennywise means the focus ends up back where it belongs: the kids. And these kids are fantastic. Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent, Midnight Special) gets top billing as Bill, whose brother George is the first victim in the film. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) is another familiar face who is no stranger to the nostalgia-laden horror story. But here he really gets to break loose as the kid with the dirtiest mouth and dirtiest mind, giving breath to the unfettered id that it is to be a 13 year old boy.

But the best performance among them is from Sophia Lillis, the lone female in the Losers Club. She is both independent and strong, while also vulnerable and scared. With her home life as much of a hellscape as anything involving evil sewer clowns, she brings an extra layer of emotion beyond anything any of the boys do.

Gone are so many of the affectations and deep worldbuilding of King’s original story– and it’s for the better. There is no jumping back and forth between times and adult and child versions of the main characters. There is no greater mysticism, giant turtles or spiders, or mumbo-jumbo. There is (thankfully) no child orgy. By jettisoning so much of this and focusing on a simple monster vs. kids story, we get the distilled essence of what makes King’s story work in the first place.

Purists will definitely have a problem with this adaptation, but one way to approach this is that the film seems more inspired by other great Stephen King adaptations, like Stand By Me, and other classic 80’s kid-centric adventure movies like The Goonies, Space Camp, Flight of the Navigator, D.A.R.Y.L., Big, War Games, Weird Science, The Neverending Story, or Explorers than by the original source material. But, fear not– the film leaves itself wide open for the inevitable sequel, ostensibly the story of the adult versions of our characters. . . which would be set today.

The movie makes possibly the smartest choice of all in making this a period piece set in the 80’s. Not only does that allow for maximum nostalgia, but it also keeps the story simple. Without things like cell phones, social media, helicopter parenting, etc, it makes it normal for kids to be outside riding their bikes, exploring sewers, and swimming in quarries. Yes, it even has a “cleaning up” montage with a jaunty soundtrack (in this case The Cure’s “Six Different Ways” — a deep cut from one of their best and most under-recognized albums). There are also dozens of Easter Eggs throughout the movie, from the movies on the marquee of the local theater to posters the kids have on their walls. It’s enough to make any 80’s or 90’s kid’s heart flutter.

And this is, again, where the film draws smartly from things like Stand By Me. The same sort of childhood nostalgia for the 1950’s audiences had in the 80’s (see also Back to the Future) is what many audiences feel now. So of course it makes sense to update this and set the film in the 80’s.

It is not a perfect film. It suffers from a few convenient plot holes and contrivances, but no worse than your average Marvel movie. And despite wearing its heart on its sleeve when confronting fears and grief, it doesn’t feel like we’re treading any really new ground here. That could be because we’re talking about the adaptation of a thirty year old novel. Or it could be that any film that comes out in 2017, especially of the horror genre, is going to have to stack up against the social commentary and innovation of Get Out. 

So it’s not the rebirth of cool– so what? It’s still an incredibly fun flick that will make you spill your popcorn bucket in fright and make you nostalgic for 1989 and that awesome, scary, fun time of being 13. You’ll float, too.

4 out of 5 stars

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