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It review: Clowning around with past

 

By Damon Smith

In June 1989, seven tormented pre-teens bond as the Losers' Club, drawn together by mutual beatings at the hands of sadistic 15-year-old Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). "This summer's gonna be a hurt train," Henry promises his victims.

The leader of the Losers' Club, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), bears the deepest and freshest wounds: his younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) was dragged into a storm drain by Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) the previous autumn.

Bill seeks balm for his grief in the company of fellow misfits Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff). However, Pennywise intends to feast upon the children's fears.

It is a nerve-jangling adaptation of Stephen King's hefty 1986 novel about the corruptibility of childhood innocence and the redemptive power of friendship.

The script remains largely faithful to the source material, with one notable omission of a controversial sex sequence.

Fans of Stranger Things will be giddy. Not only does Wolfhard snag a flashy role, but Andres Muschietti's film is also steeped in nostalgia: posters of Beetlejuice and Gremlins on bedroom walls, a Walkman blasting out New Kids On The Block and a well-worn Airwolf T-shirt.

Skarsgard is terrifying as a shape-shifting predator, who is deadly serious about clowning around.

Fours stars

Jeepers Creepers 3: Mindless slaughter goes on

Released in 2001, the original Jeepers Creepers was a fitfully entertaining horror thriller leavened with flashes of mordant humour about a brother and sister whose drive home for the holidays is interrupted by an ancient demon with an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

The third instalment of the franchise continues directly after the mindless slaughter of the first film with The Creeper coming to the end of his 23-day bloodbath.

Sergeant Tubbs (Brandon Smith) and local law enforcement join forces to destroy the supernatural scourge once and for all.

However, The Creeper won't be banished without a fight, targeting new victims including helpless schoolgirl Addie (Gabrielle Haugh) and her grandmother (Meg Foster), who live on an isolated farm that is about to be repossessed by the bank.

Three stars

Stratton: Budget Bond fails to thrill

Special Boat Service commander John Stratton (Dominic Cooper) and his American partner Sergeant Marty Sturges (Tyler Hoechlin) are double-crossed during a mission in the Middle East.

Consequently, rogue Russian agent Grigory Barofski (Thomas Kretschmann) acquires "one of the most lethal airborne pathogens" in the world, codenamed Satan Snow. The stolen virus is weaponised and Barofski prepares to slaughter an entire city using canisters affixed to four drones built by his contact, Greco (Rinat Khismatouline).

John and his Navy SEALs partner, Petty Officer Hank Monroe (Austin Stowell), give chase with support from a team of MI6 technical wizards comprising Aggy (Gemma Chan), Cummings (Tom Felton) and Spinks (Jake Fairbrother).

However, a traitor in the ranks exposes Stratton and everyone he holds dear including his surrogate father (Sir Derek Jacobi).

Based on a series of novels by former Special Boat Service commando Duncan Falconer, Stratton is a globe-trotting spy caper that is long on ambition and short on thrills or invention.

Simon West's pedestrian picture is James Bond on a budget and won't be leaving viewers shaken or stirred.

Choppy editing fails to generate momentum as the plot ricochets between Iran, Ukraine, Rome, Uzbekistan and London. West's film is licensed to kill time... and little else.

Two stars

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