For two years, audiences eagerly awaited the follow-up to 2017’s It. Not as long as Pennywise had to wait a long 27 years to get his revenge on the Loser’s club, but a long wait nonetheless. In some ways It: Chapter Two delivered a satisfying conclusion to the It saga but doesn’t quite capture the intensity and focus of the first movie.
The previous It movie caught a lot of audiences off guard. Stephen King’s original book had been around for at least 30 years and there had previously been a faithful TV-miniseries adaptation in 1990 starring Tim Curry, who played the titular monster to huge acclaim and gave generation of kids nightmares for years to come. However, Warner Brothers felt that audiences were hungry for more. 27 years after the TV miniseries came out (I’m sensing a pattern here…) Andy Muschietti released his interpretation of on of Stephen King’s most popular books. It scared a whole new generation of audiences, and reminded us older folk, how terrifying Pennywise could be. Audiences cheered at the end of the movie when the screen went to black and revealed the full, unofficial title, “It: Chapter One”. Everyone was hooked for the next chapter.
Casting was underway to find the right adult counterparts to play the older versions of the Losers club. James McAvoy was cast as Bill Denbrough, the stuttering leader of the club who grew up to be a thinly veiled Stephen King parody, who the other characters playfully tease what terrible endings he has in his books (more on that later). Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh, the bruised soul of the group, who overcomes abusive relationships from the past and present. Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, the joker of the club, who hides his pain and secrets through jokes and teasings. Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon, the only member to stay behind in Derry, Maine and the one to bring the group back together to finish the job the started 27 years ago. Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom, as a kid overweight but hopelessly romantic but as an adult a fit, closed off architect. James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak, the hypochondriac who grows up appropriately to become a risk assessor. Finally, Andy Bean as Stanley Uris whose battle against Pennywise takes its toll when the memory of It comes back 27 years later.
The plot of It: Chapter Two relatively follows the rest of the original book. Mike gathers up the adult members of the Losers Club (sans Stanley) to defeat Pennywise once and for all. Mike informs the group of a ritual that has to be done in order to destroy Pennywise and so the group finds artifacts from their past to perform the ritual. The group returns to the sewers where Pennywise lives and after a long, costly battle, they destroy Pennywise.
It: Chapter Two satisfies the itch of wanting the full story of the Loser’s club to be told but the movie itself is missing the magic of what the what made the first one so refreshing and interesting. The first It movie was told solely through the eyes of the early teenage eyes of the Losers Club. We feel the uncertainty of that age and how truly terrifying life can be, even before a murderous clown shows up to eat people. We followed the group as each one of them had to overcome their fears, figuratively and literally, in order to finally hold Pennywise at bay. However, as we follow the group as adults, we don’t have that similar dread they had when they were so young. All the monsters and all the scares seem silly and fake compared to when they were younger.
It may be a symptom of trying to up the ante for a sequel but the hallucinations and the projections of Pennywise, which are technically bigger and crazier, come off as far sillier in this movie and even induce laughter from time to time, although for most of the scenes, I don’t think that was what the intended purpose was. As with the first movie, it’s Bill Skarsgård’s performance alone that causes the biggest scares and dread in the movie. One of the best scenes in the movie is when he is slowly luring a little girl under the bleachers of a baseball game, to absolutely horrifying results.
For anyone who hopes that this movie greatly improves on the lackluster ending of the original book, prepare to be dissapointed. In the end, Pennywise turns into an overgrown spider-creature, the only difference this time between this and the miniseries is that he’s made of CGI instead of rubber and plywood. Muschietti does his best to keep the dread going by separating the group and creating terrifying scenarios for each member but it doesn’t change what’s always been a lame ending from the start.
At a whomping 169 minutes, it’s a lot of movie to ask a normal movie-goer to sit through. However, the film does do a great job at pacing and keeping the plot moving, bouncing back between past and present and from character to character at a captivating rate. Your body may feel the effects of an almost 3 hour movie but at least your mind is kept interested the whole time.
The biggest names in the movie this time along may be McAvoy, Chastain and Hader but the one that really steals the show is James Ransone who plays the adult Eddie. He eerily mimics Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays the younger Eddie, but adds so much weight to the role. His scenes with Hader make you feel like they have been friends for years, making his sacrifice at the end, all the more heartbreaking.
Overall, I would recommend any Stephen King fans see this movie, especially if you enjoyed the first movie. It may not grab you the same way the first movie did, but the performances will keep you captivated until the very end.