After a quiet, blockbuster-less summer, Stephen King fans are dying to be terrorized by Pennywise the Clown on the big screen.
But based on the first viewings of the It remake, the iconic demon was the least impressive part of the Warner Bros. adaptation!
Overall, critics enjoyed Andy Muschietti‘s take on the horror classic — specifically, the dynamic of the film’s core group, The Losers Club. The friendships and banter of the fearful heroes will satisfy audiences craving some ├óΓé¼╦£80s nostalgia a la Stand By Me, The Goonies, and Stranger Things.
But Bill Skarsg├â┬Ñrd‘s Pennywise had many critics covering their eyes — not out of fear, but because of a cartoonish, cinematic intensity many felt was a clown-step in the wrong direction from Tim Curry‘s terrifying version.
Though 2017 Pennywise still had his truly petrifying moments, and the demon’s other disturbing incarnations sprinkled throughout the R-rated film will make most fans float with a joyful fear.
See what the critics had to say (below)!
Andrew Barker, Variety: “Focusing entirely on the childhood-set portions of King’s book, it’s a collection of alternately terrifying, hallucinatory, and ludicrous nightmare imagery; a sometimes jarring pileup of moods, ranging from haunted house horror to nostalgic hangout humor; a popcorn movie about gruesome child murders; a series of well-crafted yet decreasingly effective suspense setpieces; and a series of well-acted coming-of-age sequences that don’t quite fully mature.”
Hillary Busis, Vanity Fair: “When It‘s seven-core performers are arguing about the merits of loogie mass vs. distance or bashfully exploring their first flashes of puppy love, It is a delight. Every member of the gang that comes to call themselves the Losers’ Club is natural and charismatic, especially the luminous [Sophia] Lillis as Beverly, the only girl in the group, and [Finn] Wolfhard, whose wisecracking Richie easily walks away with the movie.”
Matt Goldberg, Collider: “The film almost seems afraid to really let Skarsgard shine with Pennywise because he might overshadow the Losers. There are a few scenes where he really gets to let loose, but he’s stuck in a pattern├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥It is the predator, and the kids are his prey. The creature is only motivated by hunger and a need to feed on fear. That’s not particularly interesting, and while you can get some frightening images out of his creations, the heart of the movie needs to be the characters who can grow and change, the Losers.”
Eric Kohn, IndieWire: “Things pop up from the shadows right on cue. The clown cackles aplenty, mashes his awful teeth, and wiggles his eyebrows. As the kids discuss It’s legacy, ominous music sets in to underscore their tales. Repeat. Though gorgeously shot by [cinematographer] Chung-hoon Chung, no amount of stunning visuals can rescue It from the thud of familiarity.”
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter: “It is a solid thriller that works best when it is most involved in its adolescent heroes’ non-monster-related concerns. It will prove much more satisfying to King’s legion of fans than [Dark Tower] did. But 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 Nashaway, EW: “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 ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ a nostalgic coming-of-age story about seven likable outcasts riding around on their bikes and facing their fears together… Less successful are the sections that trot out Pennywise. The more we see of him, the less scary he becomes. Unless you’re really afraid of clowns, he just seems kind of cartoony after a while.”
Dan Callahan, The Wrap: “Bill Skarsg├â┬Ñrd‘s Pennywise has yellow eyes that are always slightly staring off to the sides. His whitened forehead is very large, which makes this Pennywise look more like a toy than a man. A lot of the time in this version of “It,” Pennywise feels more like an effect than a person, and sometimes this is a problem, because a visual effect is too distanced from us to be as scary as Curry was using just his made-up clown face and his growling voice.”
Katie Rife, A.V. Club: “While Pennywise is legitimately terrifying, overall, It is more intense than it is chilling. No punches are pulled in depicting graphic violence against children, meaning this movie may be too much for even the most Stephen King-obsessed middle schoolers. But aside from the periodic surfacing of Bill Denbrough’s younger brother Georgie├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥whose death at the hands (or teeth, as the case may be) of Pennywise kicks off the plot├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥the anxiety is more brief and pummeling than slow and creeping.”
It hits theaters September 8.
[Image via Warner Bros..]