Two noteworthy picks for this month:
First, I went and saw the new It: Chapter Two, and really enjoyed it. The movie was creepy, of course, had plenty of scary scenes, and was psychological with many of them, which is a plus. It's natural to compare the movie to the 1990 adaptation. As an author and a screenwriter, I have a nuanced opinion on remakes and adaptations. One of my chief rules for remakes is that the film has to deliver something new, not just something different. It has to say, "I'm taking this idea you already know and putting a slant on it that might surprise you, or at least has something new to say." A few months ago, I wrote about how another King based remake, Pet Sematary, failed at that. I don't think the new It adaptation, both parts of it, fell into the same trouble.
One way this film differs is simply in how epic movies can go these days with effects. The CGI, makeup, and just the sets themselves were all bigger and better. That isn't always a plus. Certainly, Hollywood is guilty of putting too much into CGI and effects and letting us down in plot and character development. But for a horror that wants to show you something terrifying, the effects capabilities of today, are a plus. I also think this is why they chose to put It out in two movies. King's book was quite long and in turn full of plot and character development. Had this movie been made into one, even if it were a three-hour installment, and still had all the new visuals, the plot and characters would have suffered. Instead, they drew it out to preserve some of the depth, even when making way for the new spiffy effects.
That said, I found the best part of the film was the stellar cast. Sure, we don't have the unrivaled Tim Curry in the role of Pennywise, but aside from that, the talent is Allstar, and well worth a look.
Second, Stranger Things, Season 3.
Let me start by saying I felt like this season had a lot more action, but in turn, less to dwell on psychologically. I enjoyed it, but I would say it is was not as good as Season 1, but as good or better than Season 2. Some of the drawbacks: we didn't see anything too knew about this mega creature from the upsidedown. We already knew it was scary, now the fight with it was less mental and more physical. We've got some silly Russian stereotypes. (Spoiler) There are Russians involved now. They work as an added layer of trouble, but they are not 80's Russians, they're 80's movies stereotypical Russians. Nostalgia has always been a part of the series, but when we see cool 80's toys, shows, music, and clothes referred to in the story, it is not the same as the characters being 80's tropes. 80's cliches are around the characters but distanced from the story. However, with the Russian's in this season the cliches are intermixed in the story and it was distracting.
Some pluses, the characters, and several of their relationships advance. This season sees adult and youth relationships challenged. It also explores a bit about kids growing apart as friends as their interests change, and how they overcome that to help each other when lives are threatened. There were also some good old fashioned chase scenes and monster battles, unlike what we've seen so far.
This season also felt more contained than the two previous. The story was limited mostly to our world, and mainly to the small town. However, I had a feeling this season was a bit of a transition year too, setting up a more epic season 4 and as I was writing my critique, I saw a trailer for season 4 implying that it will spend significant time, if not primarily be set in the upside-down. Thus, I reserve listing that minus.
Altogether, it was a pretty good season, and if it does, in fact, bridge us into a thrilling season 4, and dare I say even a climactic season five. (Where I personally think the show should end.) I don't believe I'll look back on it as a letdown. Give it a watch.