Time to Float🎈

It Chapter Two closes the book on It. Even though the adult stuff was never all that popular, there was still an excitement in seeing who would be cast for each part. The three biggest names they could secure were Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader. The latter of which steals every scene he’s in. As promised, It returns to Derry after 27 years. With Mike calling up Bill, Ben, Beverly, Eddie, Richie, and Stan. In order for them to honor their blood oath and face their demons. The kids do return in flashbacks.

Even with the 2 movie split, It Chapter Two still ended up being nearly 3 hours long. It meant stuffing in all the other details from the book. Except for Maturin the Turtle. The runtime didn’t bother me too much, but I agree they could have cut so much out. Like a few unnecessary side quests. Henry Bowers is pretty insignificant. Moments from the book deemed too intense were adapted as well. Like the murder of a gay man that sets It into motion. The Ritual of Chüd is utilized and so is It’s origin. Where It’s revealed to be a killer clown from outer space.

Pennywise is still the creepiest, sometimes goofiest part of the movie. Bill Skarsgård even gets a chance to show his face. One scene involving a little girl made me jump the most. Though I can say that one problem It Chapter Two does have is an unclear tone. The jokes are funny, but they often take away from the dread that we should be feeling. Then there’s the forms of It. Which are often more silly then creepy. It’s final form seems like a fair, if somewhat ridiculous compromise. Beware the deadlights. It Chapter Two ends It the way Stephen King ends most of his stories, confused.

IT2

“Hello”

Preceded by: It

You’ll Float Too🎈

It made clowns scary again. Effectively tainting the clowning industry once more. Since I hadn’t watched the miniseries at the time, I had no real opinion for there being a remake. Well it’s actually more of an official movie adaptation then a remake. When I did get around to watching the 1990 version, I was more interested in checking It out. Since the Stephen King book is 1,138 pages long, they had the clever idea to split It into 2 movies.

It Chapter One of course focuses on The Losers Club as kids. This time taking place in 1989 so that the adult stuff takes place in modern day. Derry, Maine has a serious problem that begins when Georgie sails a paper boat on a rainy day. He’s greeted by Pennywise in the storm drain. Who’s actually shown biting off his arm. In fact, the R rating makes It possible to show a lot that the miniseries didn’t. As well as have the kids swearing.

Bill Skarsgård proved to be an unexpectedly great choice to play Pennywise. He’s more ferocious with crossed eyes and a drooling mouth full of deadlights. His appearance is more Victorian in nature though he still retains his large head and bushy red hair. The Losers Club is just as good as before. Striking a unique balance between shocking horror and coming-of-age drama. There’s stuttering Bill, overweight Ben, girl Beverly, sick kid Eddie, comic Richie, black kid Mike, and cowardly Stan.

Since it’s pretty reminiscent of Stranger Things, Finn Wolfhard is the most recognizable actor. All their problems, like the one with mullet wearing bully Henry Bowers, are a lot more intense. It’s varying forms are likely to scare some. Though I only really jumped one time (the projector scene). With it’s creepy clown on full display, It reignited successful Stephen King movie adaptations.

3. It

Pennywise the Dancing Clown

Followed by: It Chapter Two

We All Float Down Here🎈

Stephen King’s It is the 3 hour & 12 minute long miniseries based on the 1,138 page book by famed horror author Stephen King. Although my blog is meant for movies, a miniseries like this walks a thin line between both movie and TV. While originally aired on ABC as a 2 parter, Stephen King’s It has been retroactively released as a straightforward movie. Which I never tried to watch when I was younger. Even though a lot of people my age were terrified of It. Since the fear of clowns is so common. As one of Stephen King’s best stories (with such a vaguely simple title), I knew I needed to check It out.

Part 1 takes place in 1960 and is framed with events from the modern day in 1990. Both are a few years later than the book which took place in the 50’s and 80’s. Part 1 is easily the best part because It focuses on the kids. The story takes place in Derry, Maine where an increase in child murder takes place every 30 years. The most notable victim is Georgie. A precocious young child who plays with a paper boat on a rainy day. When his boat floats down a sewer drain, Georgie is greeted by Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Tim Curry is easily the best part of the whole miniseries. He’s both menacing and entertaining. Pennywise became iconic with his white makeup, big red nose, bushy red hair, colorful baggy clothes, and unusually large head. Pennywise offers him his boat back with the promise of balloons that all float down there. Georgie’s death is off screen like almost every other death. Since It has a TV-PG rating with a TV budget…

1. It

Pennywise waits for Georgie

Stephen King’s It features Stephen King’s most well developed kid group to date. The Losers Club are a group of kids living in Derry who are tormented by visions of Pennywise. Who can either appear as a clown or take on the form of what they fear most. The Losers Club consists of: Bill, Ben, Beverly, Eddie, Richie, Mike, and Stan. Bill is their leader with a bad stutter traumatized by the death of his younger brother Georgie. Ben is the “overweight” new kid. Beverly is the only girl in the group. Eddie is the sick kid with an inhaler. Richie is the self-proclaimed comic relief, Mike is the only black kid in the group. And Stan is their nervous Jewish friend.

Each one of them is dealing with some kind of problem. Like the love triangle between Bill, Ben, and Beverly (“Your hair is winter fire”) or bully Henry Bowers and his gang. Pennywise doesn’t so much try to kill the kid’s as he does torment them. Basically tenderizing them with fear. When they work together, the Losers Club is able to defeat It once and for all.. or so they thought.

Part 2 is easily the worst part because It focuses on the boring adults. Like the book, the story is framed with an older Mike calling each and every Loser. Telling them that It has returned and they need to honor their oath to kill It for good. All but Stan return to Derry where Pennywise is waiting to torment them. Everyone just sort of mopes around wanting to return to their successful lives. It isn’t until an institutionalized Henry Bowers (controlled by It) escapes to kill them that they try to finish what they started. The final form of It is underwhelming to say the least. Basically a fake looking giant spider-like creature with deadlights underneath.

Stephen King’s It has a lot of story to condense even in a 3 hour movie. So some of the weirder elements like a certain turtle, It’s origin, an ancient ritual, or that infamous underaged sex scene were all taken out. While the violence is pretty tame. Most effects are achieved with makeup or stop-motion. Although I later realized I knew more than I thought, Seth Green and Annette O’Toole were the only actors I initially recognized. Save for Tim Curry, the acting can get pretty hammy. Stephen King’s It has the creepy story, but their restrictive choice of platform doesn’t always keep it that way.

2. It

Pennywise presents his balloons

Whoop, Whoop, Whoop, Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk

The Three Stooges are the funniest comedy trio in all of classic cinema. So a modern movie about them had to be done just right. Rather than make it a biopic, The Three Stooges movie is more of an homage to their classic style. Since the Farrelly Brothers hadn’t made a really good comedy in years, I didn’t have much faith in it. Then again, I did really enjoy the Stooges shorts that I’d seen, so I was willing to give it a shot.

The Three Stooges is actually a lot funnier than I thought it would be. The performances are as close to the original three as possible. Without feeling like bad imitations. While they’re not as big as Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, or Jim Carrey, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso more than capture Moe, Larry, and Curly respectfully. Sasso was born to play Curly. He manages to recapture his trademark “Whoop, whoop, whoop” and dim-witted nature. Diamantopoulos pokes the eyes of just enough people to recapture Moe’s short-tempered charm. And Hayes is there too… just kidding, he recaptures Larry’s straight man role.

The story is a bit cliché though. It involves the trio growing up with nuns (they’re jewish), trying to save the orphanage, getting mixed up in a murder scheme, and going on the Jersey Shore. Cringy pop culture stuff like that and the occasional immature joke are really the only problems with the movie. The Three Stooges proves that slapstick comedy will always be funny no matter the decade. Plus Kate Upton is in a nunkini.

3 Stooges

The three stooges speak to Sister Bernice

Trust No One

The Invasion is more invasion than body snatchers. In fact, this fourth and final version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers doesn’t even use pods. Instead the invading force is made to be a generic fungus-like virus that came from a crash landed spaceship. It’s just not as interesting if they’re not technically “pod people.” Emotionless husks yes, but pods they are not.

Despite this I very briefly considered going to see the movie in theaters. Since my mom had shown us the original. I stress briefly because there was no way I was going to see it with all the changes that they made. It may have been PG-13 and had more high profile stars like Nicole Kidman or Daniel Craig, but I could tell something was off about it. The Invasion this time focuses on a mother trying to rescue her son. A gender swapped Dr. Bennell discovers something is wrong when Veronica Cartwright comes to her with the usual warnings.

Then a group of not pods infects her in an overly disgusting way. So she now has to spend many sleepless days trying to blend in just to find her son. Another drastic change is the idea that there’s a cure. It ends The Invasion on an overly happy note. Even if it tries to suggest humans were better off without emotion. While the atmosphere is there, The Invasion is just too generic to live up to its legacy.

4. TI

Dr. Bennell tries to blend in

Remake of: Body Snatchers

Pod People

Body Snatchers is an invasion you’ve likely never heard of. I always thought there was just the original and remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So I had to watch this version as well, that I knew nothing about. Body Snatchers is the only version that bares the name of the book. It’s vastly different from the previous adaptations. Though it does utilizes ideas present in each version.

Like the 1956 original, the lead narrates the story and a boy claims that his mother is not his mother. Like the 1978 remake, the “pod people” are naked as their host bodies decompose and they let out a high pitched scream to alert other pods. Aside from those similarities, Body Snatchers now takes place on an army base. Which seems to be suggesting that soldiers are like pods. In the way that both are emotionless drones. An agent of the EPA is sent to the base along with his family. Another change of pace is having the lead be a teenage girl. Marti just wants to be a normal teen, but the invasion happens so fast that it barely registers.

Really the only name actors in the movie are R. Lee Ermey and Forest Whitaker. Both of whom are barely in it. Instead Body Snatchers is more focused on the many people that end up being body snatched. They’re clearly taking more advantage of the R rating by having a lot more naked pod women. The ending is sort of a mix of both downer and hopeful. Everyone Marti loves turns into a pod, but the military is able to blow the pods up. Body Snatchers works best as a more human examination of the invasion.

3. BS

Marti falls asleep

Remake of: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

*High Pitched Scream*

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is often considered to be one of the greatest remakes ever made. I’m not sure I share that sentiment, but I get why people feel that way. My mom always told me she preferred the original. So I wasn’t sure what my opinion was going to be. I’d say that it works better as a 70’s horror film than a thought provoking thriller.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) takes the basic pod’s from deep space invasion and takes it to the bigger city of San Francisco. Dr. Bennell is now a health inspector and played by Donald Sutherland. He and colleague Elizabeth seek to investigate a series of emotionless loved ones. With the help of a very young Jeff Goldblum, pre-Alien Veronica Cartwright, and Spock himself Leonard Nimoy.

The biggest difference between versions is its more intense. The effects on the “pod people” are a lot more icky. We also see what happens to someone after they’ve fallen asleep. They decompose and their pods wake up fully naked. Another more devisive decision was having the pods scream and point whenever they spot a human. The remakes most stand out moments would have to be Bennell’s terrified phone call (“I didn’t tell them my name!”) or the disturbing mutation of a homeless man’s head on a dog body.

I’ll also admit that I genuinely wasn’t expecting a cameo from the original Dr. Bennell. Still running and warning people after all these years. Although I was expecting the twist ending. Which is kind of hard to avoid. SPOILER ALERT! Bennell is revealed to be a pod when he lets out a high pitched scream at the very end. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) takes paranoia to a whole new level.

2. IOTBS

Dr. Bennell screams

Remake of: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

They’re Here Already! You’re Next!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is deep-seeded paranoia on an extraterrestrial level. Another one of my mom’s all time favorite sci-fi horror movies is the 1956 original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A movie my brother and I first saw with her at a young age. The very idea of having your loved ones replaced terrified me. It’s a classic that still works very well today. Even though its themes are very much of the era. The alien invasion is really in place of deeper themes such as fear of McCarthyism, Communism, and conformity. Science fiction is really the best medium for political subtext.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is told through flashbacks by Dr. Miles Bennell. He recounts how his small town of Santa Mira was secretly invaded by a race of plant-like aliens. It first began with multiple patients claiming that their loved ones were replaced by emotionless duplicates. Then Bennell and his girlfriend Becky discover its origin. A series of sea pods that descended from space are creating emotionless “pod people” when an individual is asleep. It’s not long before the entire town is overrun by them. Leaving Bennell and Becky as the only ones left. They can be fooled, but Becky has trouble supressing her emotions.

By far the most terrifying scene for me was when Bennell kisses Becky, only to discover that there’s nothing there. It leads to the famous ending where a frantic Dr. Bennell tries desperately to convince people of the invasion. “They’re here already! Your next! Your next!” It would have been a chilling note to end things on, but it was changed to include a prologue and epilogue. Making things a bit more hopeful. Whether hopeful or not, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is both a classic and a cautionary tale.

1. IOTBS

Dr. Bennell and Becky run from the pod people

Fowl Notes

The Trumpet of the Swan is the third and final children’s book written by author E.B. White. Yet unlike Stuart Little or Charlotte’s Web, it’s likely you’ve never heard of it. The same can be said for the 2001 animated movie. Which has the lowest reception out of any of the theatrically released E.B. White films. It’s from the same guy whose directed a countless number of Swan Princess movies. I guess he’s got a thing for swans.

The Trumpet of the Swan is about a trumpeter swan named Louis (like Louis Armstrong) that needs a trumpet to speak, as well as attract a mate. His father steals one for him, so Louis sets out to earn enough money to pay it off. Louis’s trumpet makes him rich and famous. Effectively solving all his problems. The biggest criticism with The Trumpet of the Swan is its inability to follow the source material. If you know E.B. White you’ll be able to tell that they played things too safe.

Although even the stuff that they did follow from the book is kind of weird. I get why this isn’t his most talked about story. The lesser animation studio shows as well. While the jazzy tunes aren’t all that memorable. The voice actors are probably miscast too. The Trumpet of the Swan plays one too many foul notes to make an impression.

7. TTOTS

Louis plays his trumpet

Terrific, Radiant, and Humble

Charlotte’s Web (2006) is the equivalent of a modern live-action Disney remake. Bare in mind that this is still a Nickelodeon movie. I just find the similarities to be too much to ignore. While E.B. White’s other story Stuart Little was first done in live-action, Charlotte’s Web was a different story. Instead they chose the easier route of animation. So several years later in a move that surely drew Babe comparisons, a live-action remake was released.

I was immediately on board with seeing it, but I didn’t for a very frustrating reason. My brother’s fear of spiders made it impossible for us to go see the movie. Then I got really upset when he told me he saw the movie in school with no problems. Needless to say we watched the movie the very same day. Charlotte’s Web (2006) isn’t a musical. It also uses CGI for characters that are a bit trickier to train in real life. Specifically Templeton and Charlotte. Charlotte’s appearance is actually a lot less creepy than you’d expect. She only has 2 normal sized eyes with the other 6 being smaller. As I expected, Dakota Fanning plays Fern. She takes care of Wilbur until he’s old enough to go to Zuckerman’s farm. Although Wilbur maintains a child’s voice.

The barn is made up of a surprising amount of talent with the likes of Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Kathy Bates, Robert Redford, Oprah Winfrey, and Cedric the Entertainer. Julia Roberts is a pleasant surprise as Charlotte. And her web of messages for Wilbur is just as miraculous in live-action. Her death hit me just as hard as the original. Charlotte’s Web (2006) and its simple tale of a spider’s love for an innocent pig works in any medium.

6. CW

Wilbur meets Charlotte

Live-Action Remake of: Charlotte’s Web (1973)