“It” 2017 review – SPOILERS

It, directed by Andy Muschietti, is the newest adaptation of Stephen King’s brick of a novel of the same name. It stars Bill Skarsgård as the infamous Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who had quite big shoes to fill, following Tim Curry’s interpretation of the role. The movie came out 27 years after the first adaptation of the book, which was a two-parts TV mini-series that aired in 1990. This might sound like a simple detail, but it is actually a fun little nod to the story, as Pennywise comes back every 27 years or so to terrorise Derry. It being one of my favourite novels by Stephen King, I was pretty excited for this movie, but also a bit afraid of how it would turn out. The 1990 mini-series isn’t exactly what I would call great, but it is quite fun to watch, in great parts because of how campy it is and obviously, because of Tim Curry. So of course, I was afraid that they would do more of a remake of said mini-series, and not an adaptation of the book, but I was pleasantly surprised.

As soon as the movie began, I knew I was in for a great adaptation. Georgie’s death was exactly how I remember it from the book. The movie did not shy away from actually showing us Georgie with one arm ripped off, something the mini-series completely omitted. Not that I enjoy violence made to children, but I just think that if you’re directing or viewing a Stephen King adaptation, you should know that some disgusting stuff might happen. Seeing Georgie that way shows us how far the movie is ready to go to remain faithful to the book. Because yes, I thought the adaptation was quite faithful. It might take place in a different time period (in the book, the Losers’ Club are kids in the 50s), but the main themes and elements of the story remain the same. But more on that later.

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The characters were very well written and the actors did a great job of portraying them. The Losers’ Club really comes to life in the most interesting and realistic way possible. Bill Denbrough, played by Jaeden Lieberher, is the leader of the gang. He believes that his younger brother Georgie is still alive and wants to find him and bring him back home. Of course, his character arc revolves around his coming to terms with his brother’s death, which can become a bit cliché at times, but the way he is portrayed is quite interesting. Bill also stutters, which could easily be overplayed and become more of a poor imitation of a real speech impediment and unintentionally “funny”, but Jaeden Lieberher does a great job at keeping it realistic. I don’t stutter myself, but I know some people who do, and Bill’s speech was pretty much on point.

Beverly Marsh, played by Sophia Lillis, was pretty faithful to her book counterpart and the actress was very convincing. Beverly has a very unhealthy relationship with her dad; he seems to have some quite incestuous ideas at times, and even though we never see him act on them, we would not necessarily be surprised if he did. In the book, it is also alluded that he can become violent, but the movie doesn’t concentrate too much on that. Sophia Lillis, when confronted to the father character, successfully makes us feel how afraid Beverly is of him. We feel for her and would love to be able to do something to help her. She later takes things in her own hands, and stands up to her dad in a pretty violent way, but you can still feel how scared she is of him. One of the biggest book-to-movie changes concerning her character happens near the end of the movie, when she suddenly becomes a damsel in distress. In the book, Beverly escapes Pennywise and later goes in the sewers with the rest of the Losers to defeat it. In the movie, Pennywise successfully captures her and even makes her float. The six other Losers, all boys, come to her rescue and Ben saves her from Pennywise’s “spell” by kissing her. I find this damsel-in-distress trope extremely outdated and consider it one of the few big mistakes of the movie.

Richie Tozier, played by Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things, made me laugh many times, not only because of what he said, but because of the way he said it and when. I think his character had some of the best timing in his dialogue and actions. In the book, Richie often talks too much and can become a bit offensive, even towards his friends, and his friends often “beep beep” him when they want him to stop. He also loves to poorly imitate accents and create characters with his voice. In the movie, the other Losers don’t really use the “beep beep” system, and Richie does not create as many voices as he does in the book, but he is still a very fun character and has some of the best lines in the film. I loved him in the book and I still love him in the movie. As good as I thought Finn Wolfhard was in Stranger Things, I still found him a little bit insecure as an actor, which is totally normal. In It, he shows a bit more control over his acting and successfully plays a character that is quite different from the one he portrays in Stranger Things. With type-casting as an issue for many actors, Finn Wolfhard proves he can play various characters on screen.

Eddie Kaspbrak, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, surprised me. In the book, I liked his character, but he definitely wasn’t my favourite. In the movie, I adored him. He was charming and fun and as the movie went on, he started to built up more courage, but also a personality distinct from his mother’s over-protectiveness and hypochondriac nature. Of course, if you read the book, you know he ends up marrying a woman who acts and even looks like his mother, but that is another story. I had never heard of Jack Dylan Grazer before, but I think we’ll definitely see more of him.

Ben Hanscom, played by Jeremy Ray Taylor, is one of my favourite characters in the book. He is quite similar in the movie, personality wise, but they make him the one who researches and knows of Derry’s History, instead of Mike Hanlon. In the book, Mike has a lot of knowledge of the town’s violent history, which helps the Losers understand what is going on. In the movie, Ben takes his place as the historian of the Losers’ Club; his bedroom walls are covered in news articles and achieve pictures about Derry and the dramatic and violent events that take place in the town every 27 years. This is another one of the biggest book-to-movie changes in a character, and I must admit it pissed me off a little bit. It doesn’t drastically change the events of the story, but I still don’t understand why the filmmakers thought this shift was necessary.

Mike Hanlon, played by Chosen Jacobs, is the character that is, according to me, the least faithful to his book counterpart. Not only does Ben becomes the historian instead of him, his whole backstory changes. In the movie, both his parents die in a destructive fire, which doesn’t happen in the book. His character is also much more important in the book than in the movie, and I wonder how the second part of the story, the adult part, will play out for him. His first encounter with the Losers is quite faithful to the book, rock fight and all, but many elements of his personal story are left out. In the book, he acts as a sort of narrator for the story. He is also the only character who stays in Derry as an adult and becomes the town librarian. Since his “historian” side was given to Ben instead, I wonder if the sequel will still see him become the town librarian or if the filmmakers will once again shift this part to Ben.

Finally, Stanley Uris, played by Wyatt Oleff, left me quite indifferent, just like he did in the book. He has some good moments and the actor who portrays him does a good job, but I still think his character has a weak presence in the story as a whole. I understand what he represents and why he is in the story but, both in the book and the movie, I think his character is not the best written one and remains in the shadows of the others.

Working with younger actors can often be more difficult, as many of them are not professionally trained, or act out emotions in a way that can be a little bit off, but the cast of It was great and I’m sure we’ll see them in other films.

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Clowns have terrified me ever since I was a kid and saw reruns of the It mini-series. Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the reason I am afraid of clowns, and even though I would not call it a phobia, they make me very uncomfortable and I would not like to encounter one. I recently re-watched the mini-series, and even though I love Tim Curry and his acting was great, I think Pennywise is not as scary as it should be. The mini-series portrays it more as a joker, a trickster, than an actual murderous creature. The 2017 movie does a better job at making the clown scary. It still has a trickster side to it, but it is more terrifying and violent, like it is in the book. Bill Skarsgård is amazing as Pennywise. He found the right, terrifying but almost funny voice for the killer being, but also the right laugh, the right smile and the right on-screen presence. Bill Skarsgård is a very tall man, but what makes him truly impressive is the clown suit and creepy vibe, and I think that even if Skarsgård hadn’t been as tall, the character would have worked the same. Like, even if he wasn’t about 6’4″, Pennywise would have been scary.

The movie as a whole, looks great. The CGI doesn’t look fake and is not cheaply over-used like in so many other movies. The costumes and decors are great and give out a real 80s vibe, and even though I was not even born yet in the 80s, I feel like the movie is representative of the era. There are many nods and references to 80s pop-culture, but also to the 1990 mini-series (in one scene, Richie ends up in a room full of clown dolls and mannequins and one of them is Tim Curry’s Pennywise). The references are fun and they don’t take over the story, which is great.

As I mentioned earlier, in the book, the Losers are kids in the 50s, but the movie made the switch to the 80s. I guess it is in part because of the recent wave of 80s nostalgia that is happening on TV and in movies, but also because it might be more relatable to today’s audience than the 50s are. I didn’t mind the change, and I actually thought it was a good idea, because then, the adult part of the story will take place in 2016-2017 approximately, which could lead to an interesting approach, wether or not they end up referencing the clown sightings that took place recently. Even though the time period changes, the themes, values, characters and main events of the story remain the same and are adapted to the different time period. Pennywise doesn’t turn into the Universal monsters, such as the mommy and the werewolf like it does in the book, but its essence remains the same; it will turn into whatever its victim is most afraid of. The power of imagination is extremely important in both the book and the movie, but some finer details are left out of the movie. It doesn’t hurt it too much and these elements might still be explored in the sequel.

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At the end of the movie, after the Losers’ final fight with Pennywise, the children that were floating are seen coming back to the ground. The movie then cuts to another scene and it is never mentioned what happened to the kids. Are they all dead or are they all still alive? Once again, they might explain this in the sequel, or they might ignore it completely, which would lead to quite an important plot hole. It is also quite possible that Henry Bowers is dead, but since we didn’t actually see him die on screen, he might still be alive. In the book, he survives Pennywise’s 50s attacks and is still part of the story in the 80s to once again torment the now adult Losers. Maybe we’ll see him again in the sequel, or they might have decided to eliminate his character completely. The movie leaves a few things open, once again because they might be more relevant in the sequel. Most of the problems I have with this movie are nitpicks about little book-to-movie changes, but if you haven’t read the book, the movie still makes sense and is really good. It can be really funny at times, but not because the effects are bad or anything like that. The funny moments are meant to be funny, unlike many other funny moments in scary movies, that were meant to be scary but are so bad they make us laugh instead. I think it relies a bit too much on jump scares, but they are not used in a way that harms the movie too much.

In the end, It was a pretty good movie, one I definitely would go see in theatre again, and left me excited for the sequel. It is one of the few good Stephen King adaptations and I would definitely recommend it.

It : B+

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“10 Cloverfield Lane” review

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I was not a big fan of Cloverfield (2008) when I first saw it (and I’ve never seen it since, so I don’t know if I’d like it now..), so when I heard about this movie, I was not very hyped. But I soon realized that this movie had almost nothing to do with Cloverfield. If you’re thinking you’ll be seeing a sequel or prequel or anything like that, you might be disappointed. First of, the styles are very different; for example, this one is not filmed with a hand-held camera, which already brings a very different vibe to the film. Plus, the story itself is nothing like the first movie. Besides sharing a same Universe, a same world, these two movies don’t have a lot in common. 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a monster movie, nor a horror movie, but a really convincing thriller. I was on the edge of my seat most of the movie.

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John Goodman gives an amazing performance as Howard, a survivalist man who may or may not be right about what’s going on outside the bunker. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who, after a car accident, wakes up in said bunker. Howard keeps her captive, saying that what’s going on outside is too dangerous, even deadly. The relationship between these two characters was one of the bests I’ve seen in a movie this year. I think the actors portrayed with brilliance a complicated relationship that could have seemed fake performed by others. There is also a third character, Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. I liked his performance better than in Hush (2016) (“Hush” review), but he was still the least convincing character, according to me.

The atmosphere of the movie is amazing. Just like Michelle, you are uncertain at times whether you should believe Howard or not. We are scared of him, but at the same time, he seems “nice” enough for us to trust him. I know it barely makes sense, but if you saw the movie, you might understand my point. You really wish Michelle could get out of there, but would it truly be safer? You can feel the tension that is going on between her and Howard through the whole movie, and it just sets a greatly uncomfortable vibe.

I also loved that Michelle was not portrayed as a dumb horror/thriller movie cliché character. Unlike other suspenseful movies, I was actually rooting for her the whole time. Never did I think “she shouldn’t have done that, that was really stupid”. I think she reacted the way most of us would in a similar situation.

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This movie is a lot about the characters; we learn a lot about them in different ways, sometimes very subtly. Michelle and Howard’s character arcs were pretty interesting and well-written, but Emmett’s seemed kind of forced. It feels as if they did not know what they wanted him to be like, so his backstory was rushed. At one point in the movie, it becomes clear that Emmett’s character was written purely to give us another example or Howard’s character. Yes, it is an important element of the story, but it would have had even more of an impact if we actually knew Emmett like the others.

All in all, don’t expect this movie to be anything like Cloverfield, otherwise you might not enjoy it as much. I think it is definitely worth a watch; it is a very interesting and entertaining movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

10 Cloverfield Lane: A-

“The Nice Guys” review

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I did not think I would love it as much as I did. I thought it would be a fun movie, but not that fun. And I never thought Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe could have such good chemistry.

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If you loved Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), you’re probably going to love this movie too. You easily recognize the director’s style, even though it evolved and changed a little bit through the years. The story is intriguing and quite dark, yet very funny. Holland March (Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Crowe) team up to solve the mystery of a young woman’s disappearance, who is herself involved in a much bigger story. March’s daughter is also quite an important character and is actually very helpful. It has a lot of buddy cop film characteristics, but remains original and interesting. The characters are a lot of fun too. Healy is a tough guy who is mainly hired to beat up people and March is a private investigator who kinda sucks at his job right now. They work so well together, their relationship really does feel genuine.

The movie is also very well written. Probably one of the best written movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s hilarious and authentic and dares to remind us that a movie doesn’t have to be filled with CGI and special effects to be good. It focuses on the intrigue and the characters, something many movies have a hard time to do today. Plus, the movie looks amazing. The colours, the light, the camera work… Everything looks absolutely beautiful.

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I’m not saying this movie is perfect, but it is great. And honestly, right now, I can’t find anything wrong with it. I’m sure there are a few things I’d like to change, but they seem so minor I can’t even write about them.

In the end, if you love funny movies or movies in general, you should definitely check it out. Don’t spend your money on the next Alice in Wonderland movie, which probably is as deceiving as the first one, and go see The Nice Guys instead.

The Nice Guys: A

“Captain America: Civil War” review

I gotta say, I thought this movie was amazing. I’ve always been a Marvel and superheroes fan, but I think this movie really stood out. I personally think the Captain America movies are the best ones of the Marvel cinematic universe (my personal favourite being The Winter Soldier) because they bring up more serious issues than the others, but still have that Marvel kind of humour. And Civil War is yet another great instalment.

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As you probably know by now, with the #TeamIronMan and #TeamCaptainAmerica, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Cap (Chris Evans) have some kind of a disagreement about a contract to sign and two teams of superheroes form. Before watching the movie, you might think you’ll side with your favourite one, but as you watch it, you realize that both sides are a little bit wrong and a little bit right. You understand why every character acts a certain way or thinks a certain thing, and this is such great writing! I honestly found it quite difficult to side with either one of them, because I agreed with both. The main issue is also quite an important one; when the Avengers fight against villains, many innocent people die. Cap and Iron Man basically disagree about how to react/what to do about the situation. I was so glad that this issue was brought up because every time I watch a superhero movie and buildings get smashed down and towns get destroyed, I always wonder what happens to the people in there, who have absolutely nothing to do with the fight.

Another thing in the movie that I found amazing is Spider-Man. Tom Holland did a great job and (I never thought I’d say that) I’m actually excited for the next stand-alone Spider-Man movie and really do have high hopes. I hope I won’t be disappointed.

I also adore Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). I think he has a very interesting story arc and we learn quite a lot about him in this movie. His relationship with Steve evolves a lot too, which was interesting as well. And his stunts were fantastic! Especially the motorcycle ones, if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, all the stunt work throughout the movie was amazingly executed and the fight scenes were choreographed almost to perfection. So, props to the stunt people and all.

Of course, there are a few things that could have been better. One time in particular (I don’t want to spoil anything) but Iron Man is on his way to see Cap and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who could not have heard anything of where Iron Man was heading, is seen in a jet, going the same way, as if certain he would find what he is looking for. Yeah, fine, you might say he decided to follow Iron Man “just in case he was headed there”, but still. I know it sounds really picky, but it kinda bothered me.

I also was a bit disappointed with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Yes, most people find him useless, but he actually is one of my favourite characters. Not in this movie though. I think Cap, the Winter Soldier and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are some of the most well-written characters in the series and I hoped Hawkeye would become one of them. I always thought he was a very interesting character, they just never wrote him at his full potential. Maybe in the next one.

And yes, even though I think Black Panther is a very interesting character and I can’t wait to see his stand-alone movie, I thought maybe this movie could have done a better job with him. Yes, we learn a lot about him and his motivations are clear, but, kinda like Hawkeye, I think he might not have been written to his full potential. Of course, they probably didn’t reveal too much about him because they want us to get to really know him in his stand-alone movie, but still. I feel as if there was a little something missing to his introduction. Still a badass though.

All in all, I thought Captain America: Civil War was a great movie and one of the best Marvel movies so far, and I can’t wait to see where the characters will be next and how they will evolve because man do I get involved in these movies!

Captain America: Civil War: A

“Hush” review

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Hush is a movie written and directed by Mike Flanagan and was distributed by Netflix. I honestly wasn’t expecting much of the movie, but I was a little bit surprised.

Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a deaf writer, who lives in a cottage in the woods. One night, as she is working on the ending of her new book, a masked man (John Gallagher Jr) starts to stalk and terrorize her. The premise of the movie might sound similar to the one of Wait Until Dark, a 1967 movie directed by Terence Young and staring Audrey Hepburn. I guess Hush was probably inspired by it to some extent, but it still was pretty entertaining. I found the suspense quite good; since the main character is deaf, we sometimes “become” deaf with her. What I mean here is that sometimes the sound cuts off and just like her, we don’t hear what is going on. I thought this brought something very interesting to the movie. I also love how minimalist the movie was; it all takes place in the same location and we only see 5 characters throughout the whole movie (including one we only see on a computer screen). I also quite enjoyed a little sequence near the end, which I do not want to spoil so here: Spoiler Alert – I liked the sequence where she tries to figure out every outcome possible, quite like when she writes many different endings for her book. I’m not usually a big fan of similar sequences, but I did not mind this one. End of spoiler (that might not have been a spoiler but hey whatevs right).

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Something I did not really like was that the bad guy takes off his mask too soon. I know it sounds silly, but I thought he was much scarier with his mask on, more mysterious. None of the actors were excellent, but they were good enough for their performances to be believable. For example,  John Gallagher Jr’s acting was not always on point; I sometimes didn’t find him threatening when he should have been. Maybe if he had kept his mask on longer, I’d have been more scared. However, Kate Siegel’s performance was better. I got attached to her character and really wanted her to win.

I’ve always loved movies with home invasions, because they usually terrify me. I have no idea how I’d react if someone attacked me in my own house. This movie did not terrify me, but I found it entertaining. Nothing in this movie is mind-blowing, but it is still very enjoyable. I probably will not watch it again, but I don’t regret seeing it. I think it was a good “realistic” horror/thriller movie and it would definitely be fun to watch with friends at a sleepover or something.

Hush: B

“Hell and Back” review

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I love stop motion, I love monsters and I love dark comedies. But I didn’t like Hell and Back.

Hell and Back is a 2015 movie directed by Tom Gianas and Ross Shuman. When I first heard about this movie, I was pretty excited; it seemed to have everything I like. And Susan Sarandon is in it. As I was writing I love stop motion animation, I realized I had not watched this movie yet, so I did. And I ended up being pretty disappointed. I knew, in the first 5 minutes, that I was not going to like this movie.

I have to admit, I really enjoyed the animation. The characters looked great and original. I loved the colours too. The sets looked amazing and the demons looked pretty damned cool (pun slightly intended). Judging only on how the movie looks, I’d give it something near a full mark. I also enjoyed the music throughout most of the movie. But unfortunately, the movie also has a script. The premise of the story is quite fun; Remy (Nick Swardson) and his friends Augie (T.J. Miller) and Curt (Rob Riggle) work in an amusement park that is clearly dying out, when Remy finds a book with a picture of the Devil (Bob Odenkirk). But it is no ordinary picture; it is crying. After breaking a blood oath he made on the book, Curt is sucked into Hell and Remy and Augie decide to go and save him. The whole “finding a cursed book” thing is not the most original premise ever, but it could have been good. Plus, the blood oath Curt breaks is pretty silly, which is probably the only thing I found amusing.

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Hell and Back is trying to be funny but it does not quite succeeds. Most of the jokes are racist or sexist and just plain bad. And most of them are quite repetitive. It seems like it’s trying really hard to have a South Park kind of vibe, by swearing a lot and trying to be controversial, but once again, it fails. South Park is satire, Hell and Back wants to be but ends up being kind of offensive instead. There were a few little moments that made me giggle, but nothing important enough to redeem the whole movie. The other times I giggled were because I thought the dialogue was really bad. Had the movie been well-written and actually funny, it could have been a good, enjoyable movie. Sadly, it seems like the writers did not put much effort into it. All the characters were incredibly annoying (except maybe the Devil, I quite liked him sometimes) and most of them were very flat, with absolutely no development whatsoever.

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In order to write a proper review, I wanted to watch the movie until the end, but it was so difficult! I kept being distracted by anything else. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie; it was that bad. Not “so bad it’s good”, like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003), but just bad. Anyway, if you want to check it out for the animation, go ahead, it is the only thing worth it in the movie. Otherwise, you can avoid this movie and won’t be missing anything.

Hell and Back: C-