Two weeks after social media reactions to It called the film “scary as sh–,” the first full reviews for the latest Stephen King adaptation have arrived online with an equally positive response.
The film, directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama), has a striking 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes (with one negative review, per the site, out of 38 counted thus far), with most critics singling out Bill Skarsgard as the evil Pennywise as a highlight — along with the kids of the Losers’ Club.
Read on for highlights from the It reviews.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
“Even though Stephen King’s It was written a little more than three decades ago, director Andy Muschietti’s new big-screen adaptation feels especially well-timed. Thanks to Netflix’s Stranger Things and that show’s exhumation of the geekier pop culture flotsam and jetsam of the Reagan era, what’s old is suddenly new again. Especially if it falls into that brief window between, say, E.T. and The Goonies. Just as there’s no denying that a series like Stranger Things wouldn’t exist without King’s It, there’s also no question that Stranger Things informs the way that It paints its band of nerdy young misfits and the fears they carry around inside them. The two are in a dialogue with each other.”
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“At times, the movie excels at portraying the dread of children forced to confront a world indifferent to their concerns. 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.”
Andrew Barker, Variety
“But as spine-tingling as a number of individual scenes are, the film struggles to find a proper rhythm. Scene-to-scene transitions are static and disjointed, settling into a cycle of ‘…and then this happened’ without deepening the overall dread or steadily uncovering pieces of a central mystery. Curiously, It grows less intense as it goes, handicapped by an inability to take in the scope of Derry as a town defined by its buried traumas and secrets, let alone really plumbing the primal depths of fear that It itself represents. As Pennywise, Skarsgard is largely tasked with providing a canvas for the film’s visual effects, and he never manages to cast as long a shadow as Tim Curry did with the character in the 1990 TV miniseries.”
Katie Rife, AV Club
“But while Pennywise is legitimately terrifying, overall, It is more intense than it is scary. 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 (no pun intended) of Bill Denborough’s (Jaeden Lieberher) younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) — whose death at the hands (or teeth, as the case may be) of Pennywise kicks off the plot—the anxiety is more brief and pummeling than slow and creeping. There are some good scares, to be sure, but when the movie shifts tones, it does so definitively.”
Dan Callahan, TheWrap
“Skarsgård is buried under his make-up for most of the film, and it is only toward the last third or so here that we can begin to really see the actor himself speaking and moving and putting the frighteners on. Yet in spite of its flaws, this new It does capture the spirit of the book, and especially its metaphor for coming together as a group to combat evil.”
Brian Truitt, USA Today
“The infamous clown is plenty freaky, though it’s the youngsters, bursting with hormones and one-liners, who make It one of the better Stephen King adaptations.”
Stephen Whitty, Star-Ledger
“And after its final confrontation, It ends exactly the way movies like this should and so rarely do: With a satisfied sense that this story has been fully and completely told. And, yet, with the growing conviction that you just can’t wait to see where the filmmakers take it next.”
Britt Hayes, ScreenCrush
“The new IT is narratively coherent, mythologically complex, and above all, fun. Yes, fun. It’s undoubtedly one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve had in a theater all year, and that’s nothing short of astonishing for a film that opens with the brutal attack and partial devouring of a cute little boy.”
Angie Han, Mashable
“It digs down deep into that fraught period in life when you’re old enough to realize that the world can be a very dark place, but not quite old enough to understand how or why, or what to do about it. It is scary, yes – but it’s heartbreaking, too. And that, even more than the clown’s nasty tricks, might be what lingers with you.”
“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.”