The film’s first death occurs in its opening sequence, as a horrifying clown calling himself Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) lures a little boy named Georgie Denbrough into a fatal trap.
Months later, Georgie’s brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher, from St. Vincent and Midnight Special ) has become obsessed with finding Georgie’s body, and he leads his friends Ritchie ( Stranger Things ’ Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stan (Wyatt Oleff) into trouble as they search the sewers for some sign of the boy.
Director Andrés Muschietti and his writers (Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman) stick close to King’s massive 1,200-page novel , porting in his dialogue where they can, and adding in-jokes and Easter eggs to acknowledge where they skim over King’s bigger, harder-to-convey elements.
Jeremy Ray Taylor and Sophia Lillis are particular standouts — as the smart, fat kid with a crush, he’s surprisingly tender and nuanced, and as the tough girl with an unpleasant secret, she’s close to heartbreaking.
Rob Reiner’s King adaptation is far from perfect, but without a monster haunting the kids, it has much more leisure time to explore their personalities and problems, to dig into their individual relationships and show how not all friendships are created equal.
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