Monday, July 28, 2014

Heaven Is For Real

You don't even have to get to the "Real" in the title to know that a movie called Heaven Is For Real is going to have a classic critics-hate/audiences-love kind of split, and sure enough, this movie currently sits at 46/72 on Rotten Tomatoes (far milder than the 15/85 split for God's Not Dead).

Interesting to note that this is the third (and most successful/mainstream) top 30 movie this year on the topic of Christianity. That's kind of cool, though it would be cooler if the movie and its message (right there in the title) were uncontroversial.

I don't say this as a believer; I say it as a sane person. If a child tells you he's gone to Heaven, well, that's what he's telling you. If you find that convincing enough to write a book about and talk about, well, that's also nothing for people to get hysterical about.

But, alas, we don't live in sane times. A person can suggest that increasing poverty in the name of fairness is a good thing, and be elected President, or write a bestselling book no one reads. But suggest there actually, factually is something that a whole bunch of people at least pay lip service to, and everybody's gotta have an opinion.

I, actually, do not gotta have one. I particularly don't when I go to the movies. (Or I try not to. You can judge how successful I am.) I'm looking for the story, and this is a good (though not flawless) one. I think it'd make an interesting double-feature with the Belgian film Broken Circle Breakdown which dealt with similar themes from an a-religious (but not a-spiritual standpoint).

The story is that of a good-hearted, unassuming pastor/tradesman/family man Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) and his hot wife (Mary Reilly, who we've seen a lot recently in Chinese Puzzle and also A Single Shot, though for some reason my review doesn't mention her) and their beautiful family out in God's Country (Nebraska), living a great life (though hard-pressed for cash) when their son gets seriously ill.

The community rallies around Todd and Colton (newcomer Conor Corum) with prayers and such, but of course the problem comes when he gets well. And then starts talking about Heaven. Like, the real Heaven. In great detail. With details that he could not know otherwise (at least his father perceives it as such).

Which goes back to my original point: My kid comes to me and tells me about Heaven, I'm going to think that's pretty cool. (Which is why they won't make a movie about me.) Todd, on the other hand, experiences a kind of existential crisis. And even more, so does most of the town, to the point where the Burpo's viability is threatened.

This tension is what makes a good movie. They all believe in Jesus and Heaven in theory but they aren't going to say His name too loudly or deal in concrete representations of the afterlife.

It'd be easy to say that they're hypocritical, but I think it's more accurate to say that people's faith goes on autopilot. It's easy to water down faith into a dogma—hell, people do that with politics, which is just gross—or into abstract principles that can be debated in a sterile fashion with no connection to real life (people do that with politics, too, of course).

Experiencing faith as a constant matter, having it inform everything you do, living, breathing, wrestling with it: That's hard. (And the theme of one of my favorite films, Machine Gun Preacher.)

What's also hard is telling the truth. And that's the other big struggle: Colton has a simple faith based on personal experience, and it moves his father greatly, but testifying to that is embarrassing, awkward, and it makes people uncomfortable.

You don't have to be religious for that message to resonate: The ability to see the truth and then to fearlessly report what we see is the greatest struggle of our lives. (I think art critics have a particularly hard time with this.)

It's not a perfect movie by a long shot. Writer/Director Randall Wallace (Secretariat, We Were Soldiers) lets it go slack a bit at the beginning of the second act. We're not sure what direction the movie's going to go, and it feels like he isn't either. (The problem may be that the drama of the first act is so heavy, there's no way to recapture the momentum after it's resolved.)

And the characters—well, I didn't fully understand them. Maybe they're more archetypal to small-town Christians, but I didn't always get their motivations.

Other than that, though, a solid flick. The Boy and The Flower both liked it a lot, with The Boy much preferring it over God's Not Dead. The Flower, meanwhile, preferred that more parable influenced story to this based-on-a-true story.

Kinnear is completely cleansed of his early career smarminess, which is important here. Kelly Reilly is becoming one of my favorite actresses, fitting into whatever role as if she were born to it. (And this role is diametrically opposed to her shallow, self-centered Chinese Puzzle role.) Thomas Haden Church and Margo Martindale do good work, too.

Casa 'strom sides with the audience, once again.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Shining (1980)

Speaking of Stanley Kubrick, The Boy and The Flower had never seen The Shining, so when the local second-run theater had it as a late-night Friday showing, I offered to take them down to see it. The Flower had some babysitting to do at the last minute so it turned out just to be the two of us.

Late night showings can be a mixed bag, since few there are interested in avoiding spoilers or being quiet, but after about 5 or 6 false starts where the sound didn't play, we were on our way. We did not need the extra 20-30 minutes tacked on to the 2:24 minute runtime—back from when 2:24 was a really long-ass movie, especially a horror flick—but it's remarkable how well this nearly 35 year old ghost story holds up.

I mean, seriously,  you can count the number of horror movies that remain truly effective after 35 years on the fingers of one six-fingered, mutant hand. (OK, it's not quite that bad, but it's not good.)

Here's the peculiar thing: Kubrick's film is basically a funhouse horror flick combined with a very restrained slasher. It's only in the last half-hour that we find Jack Torrance running around The Overlook with his axe. Up till then, it's all shocks and scary images—all atmosphere.

What's fascinating is that the shocks and the scary imagery by-and-large still work. Like Nosferatu, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and even Nightmare on Elm Street (and, of course, I'm referring to the Murnau, Siegel and Craven versions, respectively), they still pack a visceral punch, especially when viewed on the big screen. And in the case of The Shining, in particular, even when they've been parodied endlessly for the past 20 years.

The performances are awesome. They'll make you laugh, they're so good. For what feels essentially like an epic, there are only about a dozen people in this film, and the half-dozen or so with lines are near perfect. Everybody knows about Jack, of course. His performance was instantly iconic. And little Danny Lloyd (now in his 40s) also became an instant cinematic standard (despite or perhaps because this was basically his only role).

On a second viewing—I'm pretty sure I haven't seen this since it came out, and I was the only one in the audience who was old enough to have done so, it seemed—I found Shelley Duvall's performance very nuanced. It's easy to think she's just being a backdrop for Jack's lunacy, but she actually balances being kind of annoyingly weak with plausibly finding strength when she needs it with being on edge, etc.

Scatman Crothers plays Dick Halloran, the first of 47 magic negros found in the works of Stephen King. I always liked Crothers but that may be because he played the voice of Hong Kong Phooey and Meadowlark Lemon. (I always assumed, with a name like "Scatman" he was a singer, and he was, but I've still never heard him sing outside of The Aristocats.)

Anne Jackson is great in her little scene as Danny's doctor, and someone who thinks very little of domestic abuse, indeed. (Back in 1980, we just called it "wife beating".) And Joe Turkel, who would go on to play the prototypical Evil Corporate CEO in Blade Runner, is ridiculously creepy as Lloyd the Bartender (a role originally to be played by Harry Dean Stanton, who bowed out because of scheduling conflicts with Alien).

The music, as such, is very effective, too. The "classical" stuff works but most of the atmosphere is fleetingly melodic electronic synth buzzes (not to mention the electronified "Dies Irae" that serves as the title music) which, dated as they are, are still spine-tingling.

It doesn't all work. There are a number of scenes, particularly in the beginning of the film, that are ridiculously expository, at least in modern terms. They come off a bit hokey.

A number of the ending shots don't work either: The furry with his butt hanging out is a kind of "Huh?" moment: It's actually set up thematically by the hotel's roaring '20s history but it's not really supported by much else. And the Gold Room filled with cobweb-covered skeletons is cheesey amusement park level stuff.

I remember the ending favorably but while I still liked that it didn't have a Big Showdown, I'm not sure that it was up to the level of the rest of it.

Also, why was Jack reading the January 1978 issue of Playgirl in the lobby while waiting for his bosses? The '70s were weird, man. Probably the most horrifying thing about this to modern viewers will be Wendy exposing Danny to secondhand smoke.

The outdoor shot of the parking lot (the Timberline Hotel in Oregon, though most of the movie was shot on a sound stage in England) was basically wall-to-wall ugly cars. The '70s was hard on automobile aesthetics.

The Boy really liked it which, again, for a horror movie from 35 years ago, is really saying something.

I, personally, get a perverse pleasure out of this being the best adaptation of one of Stephen King's horror stories, and he absolutely hates it, to the extent of having shepherded a not-great TV remake in the '90s. I think because King is Torrance, and his book (which actually turned me off King) is more sympathetic toward him. (There's one scene in the movie where you have a moment of pity for him: When he has a nightmare of what's to come.)

The movie is more from Danny's perspective: Jack is scary, as all good fathers are (no matter how much we love them), and he's scariest when he's being good. He lies. He cheats. He plots. As a metaphor for alcoholism, it's great.

Here's something I noticed this time: The Hotel never actually does anything that we see. Danny suffers at the hand of a "crazy lady" in Room 237, but we don't see it. And Grady lets Jack out of the freezer so he can terrorize his family—but we don't see that either.

The only damage done in the film we can verify is done by Jack, and he could have hurt Danny. (Wendy fumbled considerably with the latch on the freezer, meaning Jack could've busted out.)

Although I'm generally disinclined toward movies that pull out "Scooby-Doo" endings (where there were never any ghosts, just some dink with a mask and a projector), I'm inclined to side with Kubrick for most of his choices both in terms of narrative and characterization.

Anyway, good times. Next up on the revival calendar: Taking The Flower to see The Big Lebowski.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Life Itself

I never had much use for Roger Ebert's movie reviews much less his politics, so I wasn't super keen on seeing Life Itself, a documentary of his life and final days. I was amused by the whopping 97% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes: A film about a film critic? Must be awesome!

But the audience gives it a hearty 91% as well, and even with that being skewed toward fans, it's a strong rating. And this is a good movie, a heart-warming portrayal of a flawed, but interesting character that Siskel and Ebert would've both given thumbs-up to.

I should warn you: of all the movies I've seen in the past decade, this is the least popcorn-appropriate.

Ebert had cancer from dental treatments received as a child. (My mom had a similar thing for acne, and makes routine trips to the dermatologist to get melanomas removed. Maybe the '40s and '50s were a little too gung-ho on the radiation, eh?) A few years back, his jaw had to be removed, and the reconstruction failed (and nearly killed him) so in his last years, he just had a mouth flap.

That was hard for me to see. He was upbeat, even in these final days, viewing death as just another part of life. And it was interesting to discover that his approach to dealing with his cancer was in part due to being hurt by Siskel's approach to his cancer. Siskel kept it quiet until very late, surprising everyone. So Ebert decided he would tell everybody what was happening along the way.

You know what? Both approaches are valid. Siskel wanted to spend his last year enjoying the company of his wife and children without his death hanging over their heads. Ebert didn't want anyone to be shocked or unprepared.

Although there's a lot more to this movie than Siskel & Ebert, their relationship was my favorite part of the film. Antagonistic, even openly hostile at times, the two grew to be genuine friends, and this is detailed through outtakes of their popular TV show.

They showed two classic TV moments I personally remember prominently: One was their appearance on the Tonight Show where Carson asks them about bad movies that are out, and Ebert says he can't recommend The Three Amigos with Chevy Chase sitting on the couch next to him. Ebert is very gracious and complimentary toward Chase, and Chase handles it with his usual aplomb. (That is, kinda like a dick, but also fairly funny when doing material from the '70s.)

But the more interesting moment came in an episode of their where they reviewed both Full Metal Jacket and Benji, The Hunted. Siskel gets his knickers in a twist because Ebert doesn't like FMJ, then gets into a bigger snit because he gives a thumbs up to BTH. Ebert doesn't phrase his defense well, in my opinion, but he raises the valid point that movies must be judged on what they are, not in comparison to arbitrary other works.

Joe Camp did good work with Benji (including one of Chevy Chase's best movies, Oh, Heavenly Dog!) and he made good family flicks. He'll never achieve the towering greatness of Stanley Kubrick, but you're not always in the mood to see elevators full of blood.

In the end, using the Bitmaeltrom Three-Point Documentary Scale:

1. Ebert, in the end, is a worthy subject for a documentary. He did interesting things and believed passionately in what he did. He loved his family and they loved him back, and he made a contribution to the industry.

2. Steve James (Prefontaine, "Hoop Dreams") directs largely by getting out of the way and letting the material speak for itself. There's a lot to be said for that style when you have an interesting subject and lots of good primary material, as well as a lot of good interviews to draw on.

3. The spin. Well, look, it's a bit of a hagiography. That's okay, I think, though I imagine there are some filmmakers who wouldn't agree. Ebert might not, come to think of it.

But that's okay, too, because this isn't "Siskel and Ebert at the Movies" and I've never cared for "thumbs down" or "thumbs up" ratings. (This is actually a point raised by other film critics here.) I've always preferred Joe Bob Briggs style reviews where he might talk for the entire thing about how awful a film is, give it zero stars and then end his review with "Check it out." (He even used to offer t-shirts to people who could sit through certain movies to the end.)

The Boy really enjoyed it, too, and he didn't know anything about Ebert or the time-periods in question, so that says something.

Bitmaelstrom says "Check it out."

Monday, July 14, 2014


The problem, of late, has been the sheer lack of agreement between critics and audiences about what's worth seeing. As mentioned previously, the Swedish WWII film (The Last Sentence) was beloved by critics but not so much audiences. But the alternative (at our local) was a French WWII film also beloved by critics, but not so much audiences. We could trek down to the backup theater to see Radio Free Albemuth, which was based on a Philip K. Dick story, utterly despised by critics, with audiences favorable to it, but just barely. (And also without any of the usual signals, like "Christian", to suggest why critics would hate it.)

Both the kids had seen and disliked the movie poster for Snowpiercer, generic as it was, but audiences were okay with it and critics were gaga so I just dragged The Boy to see it.

And he loved it!

I...also liked it, though not as much as he did. There was a discrepancy in our brain-disengagement process that accounts for the difference. Let me explain the premise:

In an attempt to fight Global Warming (I know, I know), the countries of the world inject a chemical into the atmosphere, but they screw it up and actually end up freezing the world and killing everyone.


However, there's a train. Yes, a train. And it travels around the world. Once circuit a year. It's a super-fast self-contained ecosystem containing all the world's remaining life. When the movie starts, we're in the back of the train where the poor people live on something suspiciously Soylent Green-ish, oppressed by Nazi-esque soldiers and mob enforcers and Tilda Swinton, with Chris Evans and the kid from Billy Elliot (grown now, sorta) plot with John Hurt to invade the front part of the train where Ed Harris rules all.

So, it's Elysium-on-a-train. And I'm pretty sure that's why the critics liked it. Because it's an allegory of the evil 1% oppressing the rest of the world.

I found this incredibly amusing because the train is a terrible allegory for a free market economy—there's no movement or trade at all to speak of—and a perfect allegory for a centrally controlled "sustainable" society. The train is a perfect Progressive paradise: the upper class go to nice schools, live drugged/sexed-up adolescence, then go on to fulfill their various roles in the society.

And yet, pursuing any allegorical angle very far is the road to madness. Joon-ho Bong (The Host (2006), Mother (2009)) is operating on a different level. It's, like, a Korean thing, reminding me after a fashion of Ki-Duk Kim (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, 3 Iron) in the sense that you'll go wrong if you're being too literal. The narrative is a kind of poetry.

And this works in some not entirely explicable fashion. Perhaps because the narrative is strongly constructed from a dramatic standpoint, with real plot points and (perhaps somewhat clichéd) characters and foreshadowing and so on. That's what The Boy enthused about. Lately, he says, there have been a lot of what he considers "fake" movies, where they look like movies and have a lot of explosions and happening things, but they don't really hang together well.

So, there's a poetic logic to the proceedings that make it entertaining and engaging.

But that's the only kind of logic there is in this film. For example, the whole tension of the film comes from the people in the back of the train wanting to escape to the more forward cars of the train, but there's literally no reason for there to be any poor people on the train in the first place. I mean, I got to the point where I half-expected to see them get to the engine room where burly men would be shoveling heaps of babies into the burner. (There is a very, very tenuous contrivance for having created this lower class, but it's fever-dream conspiracy level stuff.)

Then there are the various horrors they encounter which, frankly, are kind of silly, since the alternative was death. And there are battle scenes. I mean, big confrontations. In train cars.

Bong has brought along two of his repertory players, Kang-Ho Song and Ah-Sung Ko (who played feuding brother and sister in The Host), who are drug-addicted lovers/psychics/engineers (well, he's the engineer, she's the psychic), who help the band of adventurers get through the doors on their way to the front of the train.

And they speak Korean. Kang-Ho Song speaks it all the time. Ah-Sung Ko speaks English sometimes. And they have a translating machine. Which they use sometimes. Other times, the characters appear to be reading the subtitles.

So, look, if you can't get past the sheer nonsense of it, you're not going to enjoy it.

The ending is...well, very final. Happy? Unhappy? Beats me. It didn't seem to matter much. It was just the ending. Don't judge.

There's really no distilling this down. As a straight adventure film, it's kind of a fun '70s-style dystopia with that unique Korean flavor. But don't go looking for science, engineering, logic...or anything like that.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Last Sentence (Dom över död man)

So, what was Sweden doing during World War II? Haven't you always wondered? I mean, sure, they were neutral, but how did did they...

Eh, who cares.

Actually, the trailers on The Last Sentence (Dom över död man, in Swedish, literally "Judgment of a Dead Man") looked fabulous: This is the story of Torgny Segerstedt, who poked Hitler in the eye from his newspaper in Stockholm, against the wishes of his publisher, his Prime Minister, and, well, Hermann Goering wasn't crazy about it either.

Doesn't that sound awesome? A guy who stood up to Hitler? Those Nazis were bad guys. They'd kill you just as soon as look at you.

But the Tomatoes were dubious: Critics like (77%) but audiences don't (47%). Now, as I explain to The Boy, it's not always bad when critics like something audiences don't. Critics are more likely to be film fans, and have an appreciation for things that general audiences aren't going to care for.

In the case of The Last Sentence, however, what it means is that, rather than focusing on the heroic struggle of a single man to stand up to Hitler despite the pressure of his country, the movie is primarily about Segerstedt's dysfunctional relationship with his wife and other women.

You know how, when I review a French movie, there's almost always a point where I say something like "I know: French, right?"?

The happiest people in this movie are dead.

I know: Swedish, right?

Segerstedt's haunted by his dead mother, and as people die in the movie, they come to haunt him and debate him in his darkest hours (which is most of them), and they're just as perky in death as they were morose in life.

I don't know. It's beautifully shot in stark black-and-white. Well acted. The characters seem realistic enough. But the struggle with Hitler is so clearly the central focus of Segerstedt's life, it's a shame they didn't make it the focus of the movie.

Jersey Boys

I have successfully avoided musical biopics for years now, for reasons I can't really explain. I love movies. I love music. You'd think I'd love movies about people who made music. And the thing is, I don't dislike them when I see them. But I've developed an aversion for the genre, I think due to:

  1. Biopics in general compress a human being's life.
  2. Musicals are full of music
  3. Musical biopics are therefore ripe for pandering at the expense of a real human being's life.
What I'm getting at is when I see a musical biopic done of a pop star whose heyday was, oh, about 1955 to 1979, I get this feeling that someone's life is going to be reduced to a cartoon to pander to Academy Baby Boomers in a bid to get some Oscars. 

The last musical biopic I saw on purpose was La Bamba (1987)—though I tried watching The Doors (1991) in the '90s when it came on cable and couldn't make it past the ponderous, self-important opening scene—and the two I've seen on accident since then (Hilary and Jackie and La Vie En Rose, with the latter being one of the more unpleasant movie experiences I've had in recent years, and the former being one of the most unpleasant movie experiences I've had ever) haven't really changed my mind.

About 10 minutes into Clint Eastwood's latest film Jersey Boys, the lead character, Frankie, starts to sing in a high-pitched voice and I thought, "Hey, that sorta sounds like Frankie Valli". And, if you haven't been living under a rock like I have, apparently, you know that Jersey Boys is, in fact, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. 

Heh. I'm a dope.

This is an interesting film, from the standpoint of the ratings. I don't expect Eastwood ever to get a fair shake from the critics again (since his "empty chair" bit), and sure enough, they give this a 53%. At the same time, the audience only rates it a 70%, which is a tepid thumbs up. 

Allowing for the possibility that politics may be depressing the score for audiences as well, I think that part of the reason is also that this is an adaptation of a play, and a lot of the moviegoers can be expected to have strong opinions about how that adaptation should have been done.

The Boy and I went in blind, which may have been an advantage. Interestingly, The Boy loved it, and the audience gave a hearty round of applause at the end. Also interestingly, most of the audience was about the same age as Frankie Valli (he turned 80 this year). I'm exaggerating only slightly: I was one of the younger members of the audience and I saw one girl about The Boy's age, maybe dragged there by grandpa.

As a biopic, it uses a great device of having the characters break the fourth wall to tell the story. And as the focus of the story changes, the characters telling the story do. We start by hearing from Tommy, the ne'er-do-well, street-wise kid who takes care of young Frankie (for some value of "take care of"), but gradually other characters begin to add and take over the narrative, and even contradict each other.

Eastwood does a great job not turning Valli's life (he's naturally the focus) into a cartoon, and the movie ends up with an epic feel, as Frankie goes from a 16-year-old wet-behind-the-ears kid to a middle-aged dad (all without looking any older!) in a way that feels well fleshed out.

In other words, most of what I object to in musical biopics is not here.

Which might, by the way, be part of why some people aren't liking it: The music of The Four Seasons was upbeat and high energy, even when it wasn't happy, but Eastwood doesn't confuse the music with the story behind it. And a lot of people really want that confusion. (Heh.) As the credits roll, there's a genuine musical dance number, and there are a lot of people who would've liked the movie to be that.

Which is fine. I love a good musical, too. I just get a little uncomfortable when a real (living!) human being's life is turned into one for fun and profit.

It's not my music, but it's good. I noticed that the singing by John Lloyd Young was a lot smoother and more polished than Valli's energetic, piercing twang. Also, I noticed the music has stayed with me in the days following. I was impressed by the amount of music, and the amount of variety in it over the years (which isn't something I'd noticed before).

I really liked it.

The acting was basically perfect, especially the casting of relative unknowns. The only name in the movie (that I recognized) was Chris Walken as the old gangster who gives Frankie a chit for singing his mother's favorite song in a club.

It's a great story: the criminal beginnings, the rise to success that nearly didn't happen, the little anecdotes. Frequent Woody Allen collaborator Marshall Brickman (who's been kind of quiet the last couple of decades) co-wrote the script with Rick Elise from the play (which they also wrote).

Honestly, with the ratings as low as they were, I was worried I was going to be bored, and there was nothing boring about it. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Evil haunted mirror is evil! Or so is the premise of Oculus, a horror movie by Mike Flanagan.

This time, the evil mirror's victims are Tim and Kaylie Russell. Tim is just getting out of the looney bin, having been straightened out by a mental health care professional, who has him convniced that his father went nuts and killed his mother, and then Tim killed him in self-defense.

Not (ha ha) some evil haunted mirror what is evil.

I mean, can you imagine?

Of course, the instant he gets out of Crazytown, his loving sister is there to tell him that, in fact, Evil Haunted Mirror is on the loose, and doesn't he remember they swore to destroy it?!

Anyway, that's your set up. The story is told in parallel with the historical story, with mom and dad going crazier and crazier, and the climaxes of the two stories synchronizing at the same time.

Good atmosphere. The characters are likable, so you feel for them as they go through their hardships. There's a good build up to the end without a reliance on cheap, schlocky shocks.

The acting is good: Karen Gillan ("Doctor Who" and the bizarrely funny "NTSF:SD:SUV") powers the movie as the obsessive Kaylie, determined to outsmart the mirror at its own game. Brendon Thwaite (Maleficent) is the brother who's fighting her but slowly being won over. Katie Sackhoff ("Battlestar Galactica", "24") is sympathetic as the mother, and Rory Cochrane (Argo, "24" also!) plays the brooding father with just the right hint of Jack Nicholson/Jack Torrance.

The Boy was really pleased.

Me? Not so much. But since the reason why could be considered spoiler-y, don't read on if you don't wanna be spoiled.

OK? You stop reading now!

Don't wanna hear any whining. (As if anyone comments these days.)

So, in short:

Not my kind of horror movie. Because the villain is the Evil Haunted Mirror, it has to have powers that make the whole game rigged. Of course, all movies are rigged, and horror movies doubly so, but when I clue in to that, I tend to lose interest. Just like any decent fantasy film, a truly great horror movie has to have some pretty strict rules.

And, to its credit, this movie sets up some rules, and appears to play by them, but ultimately the truth is, once you come under the Evil Haunted Mirror's influence, it's game over: It can make you experience whatever It wants, and you're cooked.

The resolution is reasonably well done, too, but again, not my thing.

Also, there's a lot of kids-in-peril stuff, which isn't something I find fun. (It doesn't rule it out, and this movie does a good job with it, but it raises my demands on a movie.)

But, as I say: A taste thing. And even with all my reservations: not bad.