Stephen King has always been a great writer of children characters, often portrayed as outsiders and free of that Hollywood cuteness we often see. They’re relatable and often complex on a par with their adult counterparts. This latest adaptation, a sort of remake of the 1990 two part TV movie and a closer interpretation of King’s book has a group of school kids all seemingly haunted by visions of the same creepy clown. It begins with the disappearance of one kid’s younger brother and soon these kids find themselves thrown together to face an evil that has lurked in the town for decades.
Although at first a scary movie in typical sense, with an over-bearing orchestral score and a reliance on jump-scares, this thankfully focuses on character for the most part and presented this viewer with children to really care about and rout for. There’s overly-vicious bullies seemingly out to beat up any nerdy kid for no apparent reason, and parental supervision is either completely absent or abusive. So demonic clown Pennywise is free to lure in his next victim and only the ‘losers club’ can do anything about it. Bill Skarsgård, at first a strange casting for the role previously filled by genre favourite Tim Curry … is a revelation; creepy, unpredictable and mischievous, whilst at times genuinely frightening. The way the movie has Pennywise playing of certain kids fears is well done even if that ‘hair in plug hole’ sequence seemed plucked from another movie. With that said, the movie isn’t afraid to go for the jugular and some of the violence is pretty brutal even when aimed at children (that opening scene). So I was impressed at how this movie simply went for it, wasn’t trying to tame itself for a wider audience and piled on the scares and gore to full effect. It’s also surprisingly effective as a coming-of-age story, leaving quite an emotional impact on me towards the end. The young cast also do a great job, especially Sophia Lillis (looking like a younger Elizabeth Olson) and Jaeden Lieberher.
Director Andrés Muschietti (Mama) has delivered a thrilling and freakily effective experience that’s despite a few clichés is well cast and left this viewer thirsty for more. Let’s just hope ‘chapter two’ isn’t the let down the second half of the original movie was.
This is the latest movie adaptation of a best selling novel that seems to be a bit of a trend lately, what with similar suburban-set books like Gone Girl previously getting the movie treatment. With such things we get the usual, tired reports of ‘its not as good as the book’ yadda yadda. I am not a big reader so approached this from generally favourable word of mouth and the fact it has Emily Blunt in it.
Blunt plays Rachel, an alcoholic who never got over the failure of her marriage and spends most of her life obsessing over her ex-husband’s new relationship and trying to deal with a growing jealousy. Blunt is one of those dependable actresses, and is incredibly convincing here and after she suffers a black-out following an attack in a tunnel, starts to piece together a mystery involving her ex-husband’s missing nanny. Offering up plenty of red herrings and clues as to what actually happened … with an alcoholic as the lead anything that is recalled is of course open to question. So this made for a rather different take on the who-dunnit than I anticipated.. Add to this decent turns from The Hobbit’s Luke Evans and Justin Theroux and I found myself thoroughly entertainment. Helps that I really felt for Rachel’s plight.
It goes out of it’s way to cleverly fool the viewer and mislead, which was initially confusing, but came together effectively even if I felt rather stupid for not guessing the outcome. An easy recommendation.
I really have no clue as to why it has taken me so long to see this highly acclaimed movie. Following in the wake of Frank Darabont’s industry defining Stephen King adaptation The Shawshank Redemption, the same director tackles another King story. Originally published in a series of small novellas, The Green Mile was a sort of experiment and follows the story of an elderly man in a care home who recants his time as a prison officer in charge of the inmates on death row; specifically his time in the company of convicted double murderer John Coffey. Tom Hanks plays prison warden Paul Edgecomb and is perfect casting in my opinion, as is the late Michael Clarke Duncan as the imposing but gentle-giant Coffey.
This well shot and atmospheric movie gathers together several solid performances and a powerful, magical tale that certainly left it’s mark on me. The fate of John Coffey, the mystery surrounding two dead girls and an unexplainable ‘gift’ kept me mesmerised. Hanks is as complex and believable as always and in the closing moments truly excellent (seriously, I cant watch Hanks cry … I just can’t). It’s one of the most emotional films I have seen in a long while and yes, brought a tear to my eye. It also gets fairly disturbing in places, mainly surround the cruel character of Percy (you may recall him from his stint as ‘toobs’ in The X-Files …). But don’t let that put you off as this is one of those stories that is tragic but also life-affirming and made with real passion for it’s source material. Essential viewing.
The Blu-ray is mostly impressive. The movie itself is in fairly good condition but for a slightly smudgy colour pallet (this may be intentional) and detail overall is good, with only occasional softness creeping in on distant and wide shots. Close-up detail is often excellent. Sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is pretty decent if a little lacking in the surrounds. Yet the big plus here is the extras consisting of a feature-length documentary named ‘walking the green mile’ as well as a commentary by the director, several deleted scenes and a trailer. Not too shabby for a modern classic. Packaging could have been better though.