Review: IT: Chapter One

It-2017
Seriously: Clowns really are the worst

It’s no secret that clowns creep me out. It’s also a well-established fact that I’m a pretty huge fan of the works of Stephen King – despite being a total scaredy cat when it comes to horror!

So it’s fair to say that It: Chapter Onedirector Andy Muschietti’s big screen adaptation of King’s seminal novel about a demonic clown who preys on children – presented something of a challenge for me.

On the one hand, I’ve been terrified of It – otherwise known as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” – since I first encountered the 1990 TV adaptation of the book at the too-young age of six.

And yet on the other hand, not only is the book is a favourite of mine, but the remake has also received largely glowing reviews and is currently raking in some serious cash at the box office.

What to do, what to do?

In the end, my curiosity outweighed my fear. I plucked up my courage and went to see It, entering the theatre with a level of trepidation matched only by my high expectations for the film.

I’m happy to report that not only did I survive the screening, but my expectations were also largely met – although interestingly, It is strongest when it plays as a “coming of age” story, and far weaker when it tries to be an actual horror film.

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Review: IT: Chapter One

Soapbox: Death wears a smile – Why do we find clowns so creepy?

IT-Pennywise-Skarsgard
I think this picture says it all, really…

OK, I’ll admit it: I’m afraid of clowns.

It’s not that I have full-blown coulrophobia or anything – your average, garden-variety jokester doesn’t bother me one bit – but the evil clown archetype really does unsettle me, which has always proven a bit of a problem, given how much of a pop culture staple it has become.

The recent global phenomenon of creepy clown sightings has only compounded my woes, so on the eve of the Halloween weekend – when I’m almost certain to come face-to-grease painted face with one of these monsters – I’ve decided to confront my fears and try to figure out just why it is that these characters designed to amuse children are able to chill the blood of fully grown adults.

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Soapbox: Death wears a smile – Why do we find clowns so creepy?

Soapbox: What’s in a name? 10 big screen adaptations that changed the original title

DieHard
How exactly does one “die hard”, anyway?

Whenever a novel, comic book, video game or even theme park ride is made into a movie, invariably, changes are made in an effort to make it work better for cinema-going audiences.

Whilst most critics and fans tend to focus on the alterations made to plot, characters and themes when a pre-existing work is reimagined for the movies, it’s worth noting that the original titles of these stories also tend to fall by the wayside during this process too.

Titles might not seem important in the grand scheme of things, but they really are.

Not only do they pique our initial interest in a story and help form our decision whether or not to check it out, but they can also provide additional commentary around the work and its themes, creating a complete storytelling package.

Sometimes, titles are changed for the better – either because the original handle would be a hard sell, or was even just plain awful – but other times, the results are less successful.

Here, I’ve rounded up 10 examples of big screen adaptations that ditched the title of their source material, giving my verdict on which of these rechristenings work (and which most definitely don’t)!

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Soapbox: What’s in a name? 10 big screen adaptations that changed the original title

Live From The Pop Culture Studio: Everything you need to know about the Dark Tower

In a recent Soapbox article on The Dark Tower, I promised I would do a spoiler-free follow up post for fans new to the series, and with the release of this month’s Live From The Pop Culture Studio video, I’ve kept that promise.

As you’d expect from the title, “Everything You Need to Know About The Dark Tower” features all the information you need to know about Stephen King’s epic novels, in the lead up to the 2017 big screen adaptation starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, without spoiling any of the surprises contained in either the books or film.

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Video

Crystal Ball: Looking into the Wizard’s Glass – What to expect from The Dark Tower movie

TheDarkTower
Roland’s quest would have ended far sooner, had he bothered to look right

After years of false starts and near-misses, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is finally making the leap to the big screen in February 2017.

With Idris Elba strapping on the sandalwood-gripped revolvers of gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey set to don the cloak of the sinister Man in Black, fans are clamouring to find out what else from King’s magnum opus will make it onto the silver screen.

Fortunately, thanks to an Entertainment Weekly interview with King and director Nikolaj Arcel – not to mention a breakdown of a previous draft of the script over on Ain’t It Cool News – we can now make at least five predictions regarding what lies in store for Roland and his ka-tet next year.

(In case it wasn’t clear already, this article has been written with those who have already read The Dark Tower novels in mind; if you haven’t read the books and want to go into the movie unspoiled, you should probably wait for next month’s spoiler free Live From The Pop Culture Studio Dark Tower primer episode scheduled to land next month).

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Crystal Ball: Looking into the Wizard’s Glass – What to expect from The Dark Tower movie

Review: The Breathing Method

The Breathing Method
Is it obvious how much I struggled to find a decent image for this review?

As a cursory glance at my bookshelf will show, I’m a huge Stephen King fan, so it should come as no surprise that when I decided to pen a Christmas-themed book review, my thoughts turned to The Breathing Method. One of four novellas that make up the Different Seasons collection, The Breathing Method is the moving tale of a young woman’s extreme dedication to her unborn child, set amidst the backdrop of the festive season.

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Review: The Breathing Method