If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s work, and you’ve been around long enough, you know it’s almost impossible to make a movie from one of his books that will satisfy everyone.
The 1980 version of “The Shining” is perhaps the best example of this. It is considered a terrifying, unforgettable horror film by many, but there are those, including King himself, who absolutely despise the movie. It’s too cold, they say. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is looney from the start instead of descending into madness. Shelly Duvall was wildly miscast.
A couple of years ago, the modern day version of “It” seemed to bring everybody together. Aside from a time change from the 1950’s to the late 1980’s, most felt it was as faithful to the book as it could be. The kids were perfectly cast and thanks to modern computer graphics, Pennywise the evil clown was really scary.
Move forward a couple of years and you have “It: Chapter Two,” and people are starting to come out saying they hate the movie, that it’s too long and there is too much misplaced humor.
Depending on your tolerance, or intolerance, for sitting still nearly three hours, the length could be a problem. But at 2 hours and 49 minutes, it’s not that much longer than the first one’s two hours and 15 minutes. And as for misplaced humor, keep in mind that Richie Tozier, the smart mouthed kid from part one, grew up to be a stand up comedian and the only way he knows how to deal with such horrifying things is with humor. This was established in the book more than 30 years ago, so I’m not sure why it would be a problem now.
Despite the longer running time, part two feels speeded up compared to part one. It’s not a rushed feeling, but you can see the movie trying to get in the back stories as quickly as it can.
Part Two also comes across as much more brutal and bloodier than part one. It opens with an astoundingly vicious attack on a gay couple by some Hollywood standard white trash guys who, for some reason, seem like their hearts aren’t really into what they’re doing. It becomes obvious why it’s happening as it’s revealed Pennywise is back after 27 years (his gestation time, I guess you could say) and when he’s around, your most basic, hateful feelings will be amplified a million times.
There are seven main characters in the story, all grown up now, though one of them doesn’t make it very far into the movie. Bill Denbrough, the main character of the main characters here, and now played by James McAvoy, has become a successful novelist and they use this to make fun of King’s self admitted inability to write a good ending, by having everyone say they loved his book, but hated how it ended.
Speaking of King, he pops up in an uncredited, glorious cameo about halfway through the movie. If you don’t recognize him, you’ll think he’s just an actor taking on a small role, but if you do know him you’ll get a kick out of him making fun of himself when he tells Denbrough he hated the ending of his book.
The true attraction here, of course, is Pennywise and the movie doesn’t disappoint. He’s scary, funny and even a little pitiful at times, though that might just be him trying to lure you in.
The backstory of Pennywise, and how he actually came from outer space millions of years ago, is told here but isn’t fleshed out very much. One of the Losers, as they call themselves, stayed in Derry and studied up on the clown while the others left, forgot what had happened and started successful lives.
But now they’re being called back home and Pennywise is eager to engage them again, even telling them how he thought of them and dreamed of them for 27 years. If you’ve never been stalked, those are words you don’t want to hear from anybody.
Time will tell if the entire “It” saga becomes as beloved as “Shawshank Redemption,” the most well thought of King adaptation, or if it eventually gets thrown into the gutter like “The Shining.”
Money wise, the two movies are way outdoing any horror movies that have ever been released. The first one took in $700 million worldwide and the second one took in $185 million worldwide in its first weekend of release.
Despite that, the story is done. There won’t be an “It 3.” But if you need a King fix, he has a new novel novel, “The Institute,” out now and there will be a sequel to “The Shining,” nearly 40 years later, called “Doctor Sleep” released in November.
And if you’ve read this far, you probably agree you can’t have too much King.