It (4K Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 17-Jan-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 134:42
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Andy Muschietti
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jaeden Lieberher
Sophia Lillis
Jeremy Ray Taylor
Finn Wolfhard
Chosen Jacobs
Bill Skarsgård
Jack Dylan Grazer
Wyatt Oleff
Nicholas Hamilton
Jake Sim
Logan Thompson
Jackson Robert Scott
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Benjamin Wallfisch


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Atmos
German Dolby Atmos
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Dutch
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Polish
Russian
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The literary works of celebrated author Stephen King have been adapted into dozens of feature films, but 2017’s It represents one of the most successful page-to-screen translations to date. An adaptation of King’s 1000-page novel of the same name published in 1986, this proficiently-constructed and riveting horror endeavour is also one of the best contemporary genre films of the decade, thanks to the laudable efforts of director Andy Muschietti and the three credited screenwriters. King’s “It” novel was previously turned into a television miniseries all the way back in 1990, but Muschietti’s update more than justifies its existence, bringing the source to life in extraordinary ways and finding its own voice. The picture is certainly frightening, but It primarily excels because the screenplay shows interest in dramatics and character development as opposed to just lazy jump scares. Indeed, viewers simply seeking fast-paced, undemanding instant gratification may be advised to look elsewhere.

    In the small town of Derry, Maine, dozens of unsolved child disappearances occur once every generation. With school finished for the summer of 1989, a curfew is in place after a number of children vanish without a trace, including Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), who left home during a rainstorm to sail his paper boat but never returned. Thoughts about Georgie plague his older brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), the de-facto leader of a group of social outcasts branded as The Losers’ Club. Refusing to accept that Georgie is gone for good, Bill seeks the assistance of his friends - Ritchie (Finn Wolfhard), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) - to investigate. The group, who are abused by psychotic town bully Henry (Nicholas Hamilton), are soon taunted by visions of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård), a sinister shape-shifting demonic entity from which nightmares are made. Pennywise only awakens every 27 years to feed on the children of Derry before returning to hibernation, and the Losers refuse to become his next victims, banding together to confront their worst fears and overthrow the clown.

    Whereas King’s book was partially set in the late 1950s, this adaptation shifts the story to 1989, which will allow the second half (in the upcoming sequel) to unfold in present-day. Muschietti and his team manage to seamlessly weave ’80s pop culture references into the picture to vividly evoke this particular time and place - for instance, a local cinema marquee advertises Lethal Weapon 2, Batman and A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, while a poster for Gremlins is displayed on a bedroom wall, and Ben desperately tries to conceal his fandom for the boy band New Kids on the Block. A healthy sense of humour is evident throughout the film (the one-liners are almost endless) which keeps it enjoyable and watchable, on top of being frightening. There is a minor Stranger Things vibe due to the young characters and ’80s setting, but one must bear in mind that It was in active development before the Netflix series initially dropped. (Interestingly, the Stranger Things masterminds - The Duffer Brothers - were actually in the running to direct It at one stage.)

    Clocking in at a hefty 135 minutes (including credits), It’s length may be daunting, and it does feel like a full meal, but Muschietti uses the generous length to deal with characterisations and drama. The town of Derry almost feels like the true villain of the story, as many of the elders are portrayed as predatory and uneasy, while Henry is a violent, deranged psychopath of a bully who does not baulk at carving letters into Ben’s stomach with a knife. Members of The Losers’ Club have their own personal issues to contend with, and the material is exceedingly adult; Beverly is ostracised for false rumours of promiscuity and suffers sexual abuse at the hands of her father, for example, while Eddie has a domineering, obese mother who keeps him feeling paranoid about his health, and Mike is bullied due to the colour of his skin. However, certain fragments of the narrative appear to be missing, and some parts of King’s book were reportedly excised. There are talks of an extended cut which could rectify this, even though the movie is certainly long in its current state and could probably stand to be a bit tighter - certain scenes or moments could be removed.

    The original It miniseries was understandably held back by its budget as well as the constraints of network television and early 1990s televisual aesthetics, but this update had more freedom to truly explore King’s macabre imagination and do justice to the literary source. Backed by a $35 million budget and with a hard R rating in place, It is gruesome and unsettling, with a violent opening attack to set the scene. Pennywise takes several other forms throughout the picture, with his antics being aided by digital trickery and visceral make-up to convey the extent of the character’s true evil. It may not be the scariest movie ever made, but it is unquestionably chilling and unnerving, and it has its terrifying moments. Muschietti belies his relative inexperience (he last oversaw 2013’s underwhelming Mama) to orchestrate the horror here with the confidence of a genre veteran. Muschietti and his team generate scares using imagery, periods of silence, well-judged music and an intricately-designed sound mix, exhibiting more creativity than any number of more formulaic genre endeavours. The cinematography by Korean maestro Chung-hoon Chung (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) exhibits unending visual flair - compositions are strong and lighting is exceptional, making great use of shadows. Flawlessly complementing the visuals is Benjamin Wallfisch’s spine-chilling original score, while there is also a selection of great ’80s tunes to give the picture more flavour and emphasise the period setting. Admittedly, not all of the CGI-enhanced mayhem is entirely successful, but this is a minor quibble.

    More than just a series of tormented encounters, It takes the time to delve into the trials of adolescence - it’s more of a coming-of-age movie like Stand By Me as opposed to just another run-of-the-mill horror offering. Beverly becomes an object of desire for the boys - Ben acts as a secret admirer from a distance as he writes poetry, while Bill can only stare at her, struggling to find the courage to make a move. Characterisations are exceptional; each Loser is distinctly-drawn and they all have an individual handicap, be it social, physical or ethnic. They bond because they do not care that Ben is overweight or Bill has a stutter, and their camaraderie is instantly palpable - it’s easy to believe that they’re all friends, especially since the actors became fast friends in real life. This gives the movie genuine heart, as we grow to care about the people being victimised, and the horrific moments with Pennywise therefore carry an even bigger sting. From top to bottom, the acting is remarkable and naturalistic - there is not a single weak link in the ensemble. It can be hard to find talented child actors, but everybody here hits their mark. Even if you don’t find the movie scary, it’s still enjoyable to watch the kids interacting with one another, which is important since Pennywise remains out of the picture surprisingly often despite being the primary antagonist.

    Filling Tim Curry’s shoes would be a daunting task for any actor, but Swedish model Skarsgård (son of Stellan) excels all reasonable expectations to pull off arguably the definitive portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Covered in astonishingly nuanced make-up, Skarsgård avoids a single-note performance, changing up his tone and mannerisms depending on the situation, and coming across as an intimidating presence. It also helps that the actor is so tall, towering over his young co-stars. It’s truly a transformative performance, representing one of the production’s biggest assets. Just see the much-publicised scene with Pennywise in the sewer talking to Georgie - Skarsgård is such a powerhouse that you hang off every word, and the scene is incredibly tense.

    1990’s It covered both parts of King’s novel across its two episodes, but 2017’s It only covers the first (it actually ends with a “Chapter One” title card) to give the story sufficient breathing room whilst still emerging as a satisfying standalone motion picture in its own right. Transcending its horror roots, this is an engaging and often terrifying coming-of-age fable, able to remain interesting between the scary set-pieces, and even bring out genuine emotion. This may be a long movie, but it stands up to repeat viewings and does not feel like a chore to get through. With the long-gestating The Dark Tower turning out to be a distilled, muddled disappointment, It is the year’s superior Stephen King adaptation. To predict that this masterwork will go down in cinema history as an all-time horror classic (alongside the likes of The Shining, The Exorcist and The Thing) does not feel either hyperbolic or rash.

    There was talk of an extended edition during the movie's cinema run, with the filmmakers stating that a director's cut is actually completed and ready to go. It was actually heavily implied that the movie would initially hit home video in extended cut form. However, for whatever reason, we only get the theatrical version...for now. Considering the movie's immense box office success, a double dip is likely coming.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    At last, after both The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation had their prospective 4K releases cancelled, we finally get a hit horror movie on 4K Blu-ray from Warner Bros./Roadshow. It was captured digitally with Arri Alexa cameras, reportedly at a mixture of 2.8K and 3.4K resolution, and was only completed with a 2K digital intermediate. Therefore, this 2160p 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presumably represents an upscale, but this is yet another disc which proves that "upscales" can still look pretty d*** good, improving upon the standard 1080p Blu-ray in a number of areas. As with all of Roadshow's 4K releases to date, the disc appears to have been sourced from overseas - Warner Bros. authored the 4K disc, which actually features European ratings logos. Due to the length of the movie, Warner Bros. have thankfully made use of a triple-layered BD-100, giving the HEVC/H.265-encoded video presentation plenty of breathing room and eliminating compression artefacts. And heavens above, the result is an honest-to-goodness beauty, emerging as one of my favourite discs in recent memory. The standard Blu is still very good, but this 4K disc is borderline perfection, only slightly held back by the limitations of the source.

    Just like the standard Blu-ray, this 4K transfer is framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. There's a noticeable uptick in fine detail on this UHD presentation, bringing out more visual elements that were not as apparent in 1080p. In addition, thanks to the use of High Dynamic Range and the superior encoding, textures on skin, clothing and environments are better-resolved on the whole, particularly in close-ups or medium shots, and the presentation never looks overly smooth or smeary. Even in darkness or under dim light (such as the climactic showdown), you can still make out plenty of fine detail thanks to the smartly-applied, balanced use of Dolby Vision HDR. A light layer of source noise coats the image, which is more evident in some scenes than others, but it remains finely-resolved and never proves to be a distraction - if anything, as ever, it enhances the texture of the presentation. Also, since It is set in the '80s, the source noise - which more or less emulates film grain - feels appropriate. The 4K transfer looks perhaps just a touch sharper compared to its 1080p counterpart, and never falters no matter the environment or lighting conditions. You can make out all of Pennywise's razor-sharp teeth, while vines, leaves and cobwebs are individually discernible. Admittedly, there is a limit to the fine detail (I've seen better), which could have potentially looked even better if the movie was completed at 4K, but this is a minor shortcoming.

    Videophiles can rejoice, for It sees Warner Bros. finally jumping on the Dolby Vision bandwagon. This marks the first Warner Bros. 4K release to offer DV HDR, as opposed to just HDR10. It's the use of HDR and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) which really bolsters this 4K presentation, representing an enormous improvement over the standard Blu-ray. Skin tones are more consistent, saturated and accurate throughout, whereas skin looked downright pasty at times on the 1080p Blu-ray. Blood also looks truer and more unnerving. There is so much more depth and pop to the video in 4K, with noticeably superior highlights. In addition, there is more atmosphere thanks to the improvements with the colour palette. Pennywise's yellow eyes stand out more, blacks are truer, bright lights never look blown out, and contrast is an improvement over the standard Blu-ray. Indeed, since Dolby Vision is "dynamic" HDR, the filmmakers had the opportunity to really fine-tune the grade, and the results won't leave anybody disappointed. Of course, for those without the ability to watch DV on their equipment, the movie plays in HDR10, which is still impressive but not quite as balanced.

    Although the 4K presentation doesn't exactly do the occasionally obvious CGI any favours (fingers crossed the sequel is given a sufficient budget for superior digital effects), this is still the superior way to experience It on home video. With a more generous bitrate and a proficient encode, there are no visible compression artefacts, nor do any shots look soft. Edges are razor-sharp without any evidence of aliasing, the mild banding of the standard Blu-ray is eliminated, and I didn't detect any macroblocking or any other encoding problems. With an ever-growing selection of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles, rest assured that It on 4K is worth the extra money.

    Numerous subtitle options are available, covering plenty of languages. I had no problems with the English subtitle track.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The 4K disc contains a whole heap of audio options, more than I can actually list in the audio section. There are additional language tracks in Atmos, DTS-HD and lossy Dolby Digital, on top of the English options. As with the standard Blu-ray, on my equipment the audio actually defaulted to the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, so be sure to check Atmos is selected if it means that much to you. I focused on the Atmos mix for the purpose of this review (although I don't have overhead speakers and cannot fully evaluate the track), and it's a beauty - a total reference-quality track benefitting from terrific dynamic range, superb lossless encoding and top-notch subwoofer to accentuate the horror. This is a rich and layered track too; it was professionally-mixed by the movie's sound designers.

    Pristine and crystal clear, the track never sounds muffled or held back in any way, and prioritisation is excellent from start to finish. It's always easy to hear and comprehend the dialogue, and the subwoofer is put to great use. Scene-specific atmospherics are evident in almost every scene, from birds lightly chirping whilst outside to drops of water in the sewer, making for an immersive listen. The opening sequence takes place during a rainstorm, and it's a perfect way to show the track's strengths right out of the gate. Whilst inside the Denbrough household, sounds of rain fill all rear channels, making you feel as if it's actually raining outside. And when Georgie merrily trots through the rain sailing his boat, the rainfall and wind noises are all-encompassing. And that's just the beginning. When blood erupts from the sink and covers both Beverly and her bathroom, the intense splatter sound effects come from all channels. During the rock war, sounds of the rocks can be heard all around, exhibiting panning effects and precise placement to make the scene even more immediate. Music fills the available channels to terrific effect (both the original score and the great song choices), and always comes through with precision. Wallfisch's score is nuanced and screechy, and there's never any peaking or muffling. Other icky sound effects and roars are equally unnerving.

    Without any encoding errors like drop-outs, pops, clicks or sync issues, It's Dolby Atmos track is a real winner. There's no doubt that this 4K disc is the definitive way to experience the movie in every aspect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As ever, the 4K disc has no special features - those are all housed on the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    All 4K discs worldwide are identical, aside from differing language options. No extended cut landed anywhere. It's a draw, buy local.

Summary

    An excellent adaptation of the source novel, It is an outstanding horror movie as well as a touching coming-of-age drama bolstered by top-flight technical specs. Stephen King himself has expressed his admiration for the movie, and it's not hard to see why. And now we wait patiently for the sequel.

    This 4K disc surpasses its 1080p counterpart with ease. Despite being an "upscale," the 2160p video presentation is excellent, while the Atmos track is still perfection. Indeed, with the Dolby Vision HDR, the movie looks even better than it did at the cinema. Throw in the accompanying Blu-ray with its selection of special features, and this set comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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