Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of The Dark Tower isn’t that it failed to live up to expectations decades in the making, or even that it mangled Stephen King’s source material in a way that die-hard fans found unforgivable. No, the most frustrating aspect of The Dark Tower is that it’s just… fine. Despite the plethora of negative reviews, it isn’t some disastrous flop of a movie, nor is it an ambitious mess that reached for the stars and came crashing back to earth. It’s just sorta there, a Young Adult action-fantasy film that limps through its paces before ending with a thud. Really, how do you even make a King adaptation that doesn’t have a little bit of ambition?

That’s been on people’s minds as they waited for the first reviews of It, another movie that has to walk a line between violence and the perspective of a child. I’m not sure King fans could’ve weathered a second terrible adaptation in the same year, but fear not! The first round of press reactions hit social media yesterday, and it sounds like everyone can breath a huge sigh of relief: It is apparently funny and scary as hell.

Not bad, not bad at all. Those who have read King’s original novel know that one of the most challenging elements of It is its combination of childhood and terror; the violence of adolescence is magnified ten-fold, and the things that Pennywise does to get under the skin of his victims are anything but kid-friendly. Therefore, it’s refreshing to hear audiences react to It as both a successful horror movie and a successful kid’s movie, because to really succeed, It needed to be both. We’ll see if this strong word of mouth continues to hold up through the film’s theatrical release, but maybe, just maybe, The Dark Tower doesn’t have to be the Stephen King movie we all remember.

It hits theaters on September 8, 2017.


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