What happens in Derry stays in Derry until eerie things start popping off 27 years later. It Chapter Two is the sequel to the 2017 hit supernatural horror It, which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Director Andy Muschietti returns, but this time the Losers Clubs are adults who return to Derry to take out the mystical being known as Pennywise once and for all. Spoiler FREE review after the trailer.
A Score and Seven Years Later
Set 27 years after the events of the first film, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) has risen from hibernation to torment the citizens of Derry, Maine once again. After mysterious events happen in his small town, Derry lifer Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) gets his old club together to take on Pennywise. Now adults in their mid-40s, Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) have all moved on past the events that would’ve scared a normal child for life.
The adult versions of the kids from the first film were perfectly cast in the sequel. Pictured above and below are the Losers Club as adults and children, respectively. Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor Chosen Jacobs, and Wyatt Oleff reprise their roles from the first film. The film utilizes flashbacks and the younger actors had to be digitally deaged to match their looks from the first film; this is sometimes noticeable in the film.
It was good to see James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in the same film again but this time their talent wasn’t being wasted. At times McAvoy’s Scottish accent would slip out and it makes you wonder when did Bill Denbrough start speaking with an accent. McAvoy did a tremendous job at continuing the stutter that Martell displayed, especially during high stress situations. For her part, Chastain brought her A-game as Beverly Marsh. When asked who she wanted to play the adult version of her character, Sophia Lillis named Chastain who did not disappoint. There is a scene shown in the trailer where Marsh is at her childhood home and there’s a mischievous elderly lady and it’s one of the best scenes in the film.
Isaiah Mustafa, who is best known for being the Old Spice Guy, had the most surprising performance as Mike Hanlon. The childhood version of Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) may have had the roughest childhood compared to the others in the Losers Club and since he never left Derry, he’s the only one who did not forget about what happened, so he has to find various ways to cope with his past.
As far as looks go, Eddie Kaspbrak probably looks the closest to his childhood counterpart. Jack Dylan Grazer and James Ransone might be related, that’s how good the casting is. On another note, Jack Dylan Grazer might be the only child actor this year to star in two movies and have two completely different adults portray the adult version of him.
When the Losers Club comes back together after over a quarter century of being apart, it feels like old friends are having a good time. There’s an eerily shot scene at a Chinese restaurant where the squad meets up and you can tell the effects team had fun creating it.
You’ll Float Too
The opening scene in this movie is graphic and apparently comes straight out of the book. In a way, this scene sets the tone of the film and lets the audience know they’re going to watch graphic content for the next 2 hours and 49 minutes. Throughout the film the special effects are amazing to watch, but they’re not as impactful as they were in the first film. The effects team isn’t at fault for this, the onus is on the films writing. Where the first It floats, thanks to its superb writing and character development, its sequel sinks.
The biggest problem with this film is that bigger doesn’t mean better. The film is nearly 30 minutes longer than the first movie, but it never feels like its time extension is justified. There was robust and extremely detailed set pieces, that included a funhouse at carnival, but the story structure was as tame as riding a ferris wheel.
The storytelling in a long film is extremely important, especially if the characters are going to split up on their own personal journey, then it’s important that you write a story for each character that doesn’t feel like a copy and paste of the other characters. It Chapter Two doesn’t do enough to differentiate between the events in its second act, which at times makes it a disappointment when compared to It Chapter One.
Unfortunately, Chapter Two does fall victim to trying to out horror itself by crowbarring in too many jump cuts and jump scares, which lose their effectiveness as the movie progresses. The movie never settles on what it’s trying to do, so it feels unorganized and the pacing isn’t consistent. Even if it’s based on a 1400 page book, the film does not do enough to make its runtime justified.
The Bills Paid Their Dues
Bill Hader and Bill Skarsgård are by far the two standouts of Chapter Two. Skarsgård picks up right where he left off from the previous movie. A menacing character such as Pennywise, has to express a lot of emotions via facial expression. Skarsgård has an expressive face and can convey various emotions just by his eyes. He’s given more time to display his antics in this movie than part one.
What makes Pennywise such an engaging character is that he knows when to be unassuming to lure his prey and when to flip the script and become the killer clown that he truly is. As a supernatural being, he has had some gruesome transformations throughout the film. As a clown, he has many hilarious moments in the movie. The only character who is funnier than ol’ Pennywise is Richie Tozier.
The wise-cracking Richie Toliver was a highlight in It. Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame portrayed the teenage version of the character. He was the smartmouth of the group and his character has developed a lot in the nearly three decades after the events of the first film. As an adult, Richie Toliver is played by comedic actor Bill Hader. His performance was a breakthrough amongst the now adult Losers Club members.
Hader’s comedic timing shines through the darkness and he knows when to insert jokes at the right times. Personality wise, Hader was the closest to his child actor from Chapter One. Richie’s relationship with Eddie rivals other comedic duos such as Cheech and Chong or Beavis and Butthead. The back and forths between the pair picked right back up where they left off in the first film.
It’s not all jokes though. When Hader needed to bring the drama, he knocked it out of the park. Cannot rule out the possibility of Hader getting a nomination for Best Supporting Actor during the awards season.
With a runtime that is too long, It Chapter Two does have some solid performances and completes the best duology of one of Stephen King’s most well-known novels. If New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers were smart then they would make a prequel with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. The dancing clown has been around for hundreds of years and there is an opportunity to watch him terrorize the citizens of Derry from centuries ago. As a supernatural horror, Chapter Two has some memorable set pieces and creative effects, but could’ve used some better writing in its screenplay. Director Andy Muschietti knows his way behind the camera, but overall this one didn’t live up to his predecessor. There are great performances by its lead actress and actors, that will make you wish the writing matched their performances. This story started with Georgie being pulled into the sewer after chasing a boat, and ended with a story that capsizes in comparison to its beginnings.
[All Mames Wey]
It Chapter Two was released in theaters September 6, 2019.
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