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The reviews for the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It are in and it appears the killer clown has won over the critics.
With a 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Wednesday morning, the critical consensus seems to be that It delivers on the scares, and as a bonus is a fair-to-decent imitation of King’s other coming-of-age story, Stand by Me. The only downside reviewers found was that we’ve seen it all before, somewhat unsurprisingly as the 1990 TV miniseries still haunts the dreams of many.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore summed up It as “satisfying, if not quite terrifying.” DeFiore felt the film was “a solid thriller that works best when it is most involved in its adolescent heroes’ non-monster-related concerns,” but that It “falls well short of the King-derived film it clearly wants to evoke, Stand by Me; and newcomers who were spoiled by the eight richly developed hours of Stranger Things may wonder what the big deal is supposed to be.”
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly was glowing in his praise, particularly about the first half of the film that focuses on the Losers Club and similarly sees echoes of Stand by Me. “It is essentially two movies. The better by far (and it’s very good) is the one that feels like a darker Stand by Me — a nostalgic coming-of-age story about seven likable outcasts riding around on their bikes and facing their fears together,” writes Nashawaty.
USA Today‘s Brian Truitt gave It a rave, describing the movie as “one of the better Stephen King adaptations.” Despite finding the film a little overlong, Truitt said it capture’s the source materials “nuanced coming-of-age sentiment rather than being all horror, all the time, capturing the low-key brilliance of King’s writing.”
The Guardian‘s chief film critic Peter Bradshaw was a touch more tempered in his praise for It, describing the film as “often” scary but is perhaps more suited to a TV series with its “anthology” of horrors “which could be shuffled and presented in any order.” Bradshaw found the non-clown related scares more compelling. “The film interestingly shows us that non-supernatural violence, bullying and abuse has been normalized in this apparently picturesque town — so a demonic clown is just something else to worry about,” he writes.
Eric Kohn’s review for Indiewire was also circumspect, enjoying the film on its merits but unable to shake the feeling we’ve seen it all before. “At times, the movie excels at portraying the dread of children forced to confront a world indifferent to their concerns,” writes Kohn before concluding, “But no matter how many times Pennywise leaps out from unexpected places, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that we’ve been here many times before.”
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