It: Chapter One


Street 1/9/18;
Box Office $327.48 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence/horror, bloody images and for language.
Stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott.

It’s easy to see why director Andy Muschietti’s It was such a huge hit in theaters. In successfully translating the themes present in Stephen King’s source 1986 novel, Muschietti has managed to craft a solid piece of entertainment that works even for viewers who aren’t necessarily interested in looking for the deeper meaning of it all.

The film covers roughly the first half of the book, in which a group of kids in a small town in Maine band together to confront a demonic creature that emerges every 27 years to feed off the fear of the town’s youth. (It: Chapter Two, about the adult versions of the characters fighting the creature, is due in 2019).

The kids, who call themselves the Losers’ Club, are mostly social outcasts who find a common bond in their efforts to save the town from the shapeshifting creature, whose best-known persona is that of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård). None of the adults in town believe anything they are saying about it.

There are clear metaphors at play about the awkwardness of growing up and overcoming childhood anxieties. But the film also works on a pure nostalgia level, a throwback to youthful adventures such as The Goonies and Stand By Me (also based on a King story). Indeed, some of the scenes of the kids confronting real-life hazards, such as dealing with local bullies or abusive parents, are almost more unsettling than Pennywise’s attempts to devour them (though the Pennywise scenes are certainly up to the task of freaking out viewers looking for a good fright).

The film is also well-timed to take advantage of the huge popularity of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which itself is a throwback to 1980s movies featuring kids embarking on adventures and often encountering aliens or other supernatural threats. The It novel and 1990 miniseries were certainly influential on the development of “Stranger Things,” whose creators, the Duffer Brothers, had pitched their own treatment of an It feature film before doing the TV show. “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard also appears in It as a member of the Losers’ Club.

The Blu-ray features about an hour of bonus materials, including 15 minutes of deleted scenes and three featurettes focused on the making of the film.

The most interesting is a 14-minute interview with Stephen King as he explains his motivations and inspirations for writing the book, and why he thinks the film version gets it right.

There’s also a 15-minute profile of the kids who play the Losers, and a 16-minute look at Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise.

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