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“It Chapter Two” Leaves Its Predecessor in the Sewer

September 6, 2019

I was in the minority in my thinking that 2017’s “It” was a good, but not great movie. So, it should come as no surprise that I’m again in the minority in thinking that “It Chapter Two” is better than its predecessor.

 

Picking up 27 years after the events of the first film, the town of Derry again finds itself with a rash of murders and missing persons reports. The only person that knows (or will admit) what is happening is Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa).

 

One by one, he reconnects with the rest of the Losers’ Club – Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) – to let them it has returned, and that they need to return home to end Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once and for all.

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “It Chapter Two,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Brooke Palmer Copyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.)

The first thing that really elevates “Chapter Two” is Pennywise. Minus some jump scares and the creepy slide projector scene, I didn’t find the character to be scary the first time around. This Pennywise, however, is much different. Not only is he hungry, but he’s also mad. His crazed, zany antics from the first film are replaced with an even darker, more menacing calm. For me, calm, sinister evil is always scarier.

 

The visual effects this time around were also cranked to 11. Going into specifics would give too much away, but there’s a lot more at play here than floating corpses and explosions of blood. And while some of them are downright silly and cartoonish, the majority are outstanding.

 

The other place where “Chapter Two” shines is in its meshing of the adult Losers’ Club (mentioned above) with their childhood selves. Jaeden Martell (Bill), Sophia Lillis (Beverly), Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben), Chosen Jacobs (Mike), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie), and Wyatt Oleff (Stanley) are all back for a plethora of flashbacks that not only feel natural, but add depth to the adult characters by reminding why they stole the show the first time around. Flashbacks can often feel hokey and out-of-place, but that is not the case here.

Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon, Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough, Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh, and Jay Ryan as Ben Bascomb in New Line Cinema's horror thriller “It Chapter Two,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Brooke Palmer Copyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.)

“Chapter Two” is driven more by its characters and their stories, which is something I truly appreciate.

 

There are, however, a few things that just don’t work for me.

 

First, charting in at 2 hours and 49 minutes, it’s needlessly long. I realize it encompasses the back half of an 1,100+ page novel, but there’s plenty of fat that could have been trimmed – not cut entirely, just tightened up – without affecting the final product. That said, despite its long run time, the ending felt rushed and incomplete.

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “It Chapter Two,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Brooke Palmer Copyright: © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.)

 

Equally troublesome for me is how much “comedy” there is. The comedy horror is a very niche product that needs full commitment to work – think “Evil Dead,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “Ready or Not.” Obviously, there are moments where it fits – razzing and joking upon reuniting, sophomoric teenage humor in flashbacks, etc. – but there seemed to be a concerted effort to inject more humor, but most of it fell flat.

 

“Chapter Two” will have its detractors, and while it’s far from perfect, I’d say director Andy Muschietti did fine job of fleshing out his characters more and delivered an ultimately satisfying finale.

 

★★★ ½ of ★★★★★

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