It Chapter Two (2019)
It’s been two years since Andy Muschietti record breaking horror hit IT smashed into cinemas, on September 8th 2017. Looking to modernise Stephen King’s seminal novel about seven adults reuniting to fight a monster, the films plot was carefully curated to fit 21st century sensibilities. And do you know what?. It was not to bad at all! IT was a masterclass of film making, fitting in many elements of the novel, whilst updating others. But because New Line Cinema were unwilling to shoot both films back to back (something they most famously did for the Lord of the Rings films!) the risk of fragmenting the second part was always a real issue. That said, the financial success of Part one was more than enough to encourage the studio to push ahead with the second part, and now It Chapter Two is live in theatres. But how does this sequel shape up? Is it a worthy successor, or does this film clown around just too much…?
Before I get this party started, I just wanted to make a warning about spoilers, but more so, I feel I need to warn you about my stance on the new film. Having read Stephen King’s IT novel three times, it must be one of my favourite novels just out of sheer volume of reads. So yes, I’m definitely one of those people that is constantly comparing films to the books, and yes, I’ll no doubt be stuck saying “but that does not happen in the book” or, “but in King’s novel!” You see, it’s hard to turn the memory banks off on a subject you’re highly enthused by, and boy could I talk for hours on King! So, if you find me rambling, take this little monologue as an apology! To you my Fellow horror Fan I am sorry! Shall we continue?
Despite making $185 million on its opening weekend. IT has been getting a bashing from the critics. For some reason, they just can’t see the wood for the trees. It’s not a movie with subtext or hidden meaning. It’s not hiding any dark undercurrents or bemusing the meaning of life. It’s a film about a killer clown that loves balloons and transforms into a leper, a giant Paul Bunyan statue and naked saggy boobed witch! If Director Andy Muschietti was aiming toward the Oscars with this one, he was sadly misguided. My point is that you don’t have to have veiled meanings intricately threaded through a plot for a film to be enjoyable. And there’s lots to enjoy with Chapter Two.
The sequel captures the spirit of King’s epic novel, following the basic storyline, but with changes spotted here and there to fit the previous films flow. A few changes are certainly nothing to get too concerned about! Even Pete Jackson took major liberties with his film versions of Lord of the Rings. It’s just part of adapting a book to film. Where I think the rails might have buckled, strangely enough, is in the faithfulness to the book. The film is filled with wonderful creatures and monsters, but many of these may feel a little random without any context. Beverly’s encounter with the witch, for instance, may be completely confusing for a large portion of the audience, whilst book fans will know exactly what Muschietti was trying to do. In King’s Novel, kindly Mrs. Kersh transforms into the Witch from Hansel and Gretel, because it was a story that terrified Beverley as a young girl. It manifest the losers greatest fear, and so things like Richie’s Crawling eye fortune cookie, or Ben’s Mummy, are pulled from fears the books explain clearly. The film can’t project Beverly’s or any of the other Losers thoughts and fears, and so in an undeniably bold move, they just go with it, throwing the creatures on screen, warts and all.
Returning to his role as Pennywise is the screen stealing Bill Skarsgård, who somehow manages to trump his performance from the Chapter One. There’s something strangely alluring about his performance! For a homicidal, child killing clown, it’s hard not love every second of “It’s” screen time. Try as you mighty, it’s hard to take your eyes off Pennywise throughout the film. Funnily enough, the biggest issue with the creature, is not Skarsgård performance, but the terrible CGI that tries to stifle his act underneath. At times, the effects work completely replaces Its face and stretches it into a terrible mess. The hall of mirrors scene reminded me of the terrible VFX on the 1998 Star Trek film, Insurrection, where they stretch Anthony Zerbe’s face in one of the most shockingly terrible effects in Star Trek history. But some misplaced CGI does not detract from Skarsgård stellar performance, who pulls off his best turn yet as Pennywise. Saying that, most of cast manage to pull together a truly spectacular performance, with Bill Hader (Richie) and James Ransone (Eddie) just killing about every scene they share together. Seriously, if we don’t see these two together again soon, in a buddy-cop styled film, then I’d feel that we have failed as a species. Funnily enough, I found the weakest performance came from the studio’s greatest actor expense, with Jessica Chastain managing to play Beverly Marsh with the air of someone half-asleep and James McAvoy failing to impress in every scene. But maybe some of the blame here lies with the script?
Having been written long after the original scripts ink was dry, Gary Dauberman , who returns from writing credentials on Chapter One, has made some questionable story choices that were clearly aimed at merging the two stories. However, many of these story elements only make Chapter Two feel less connected. For example, Ben’s miraculous den build is right out of left field and leaves our brains hurting trying to figure out when this entire plot point took place. Yes, I get it, Dauberman wanted to hint towards Bens skills as a designer and builder, but King had left many breadcrumbs in his source materials, all of which were left out of the first film. There was no dam, do den… nothing. This retcon just feels way to disjointed and unbelievable. Another real stinker is Bill’s great revelation about Georgie’s death. There’s some sort of push here to make Bills guilt more tangible, and it’s completely unnecessary. Bill built the boat that sent poor Georgie out into that raining day. Surely that’s enough! But it’s this mix of grief and guilt that McAvoy just can’t seem to fit his acting chops around. I’ll give him his credit, it’s a hard part to play, but Richard Thomas did it better in 1990.
Visually the film was wonderful, with many elements of the 1980’s Derry being perfectly recreated for Chapter Two. From the Bradley Gang’s massacre mural, to the Paul Bunyan statue, It’s all been painstakingly recreated for the sequel. There’s been a lot of love thrown into the production design and the amazing soundtrack just accentuates every scene. Chapter Two’s original score is on Spotify if you fancy listening to a seriously disturbing music. Despite the wonderful attention to details and the epic score, there has been some strange choices made mid film. My biggest irk from the film is the out of place CGI mess, that tells the story of the Native American tribe that encountered IT. It might have been a cool looking sequence in a PlayStation 3 game, but here in a multi-million-pound film, it’s shoddy at best, and completely misplaced. It Chapter Two is not Kill Bill, Hellboy II: The Golden Army or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Throwing in a weird animated sequence DOES NOT FIT into the world that has been built.
Animation aside, the films biggest issue here, and I’m sure you’ll agree, is its length runtime! At 2 hours and 50 minutes is a real bladder tester, especially after a large coke and popcorn (with a liberal sprinkling of Rolo candy. Don’t judge me!) It seems to me that the film could have done with a few mean cuts that literally do nothing to push the film along. Cutting the “Kid” out of the movie would have surely dropped the film runtime down by 20 minutes and would have made no difference to the overall feel of the film. Meanwhile other scenes seem to be rushed through, such as the Mike and Bill hallucination sequences, which feel like a scene from a Paul Feig movie! What the hell is going on here? And that sums up the films issue right there! Plenty of time to linger on a non-important character arch, but no time for a major plot point!
IT Chapter Two is a slow whirlwind! Stepping back and looking at the movie as a whole, it’s easy to see where the films has gone wrong! It suffers from terrible misbalancing. There’s too much comedy where there should be seriousness, there’s too much CGI where they should be none and there is just way too much film. But try as I might to hate all the wrongs, I can’t help but LOVE this little gem of a film. There’s plenty of gore, a ton of scares and one of the finest character performances I’ve ever seen on screen. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream and you’ll enjoy ever damn last minute of it, even if it does make you bum numb.
Despite bringing the story to a close, New Line would be foolish not consider more. In a time of shared cinematic universes and ever-growing franchises, it’s hard to imagine that the studio won’t be looking at expanding IT further. So whilst the curtains draws on Stephen King’s tale of the Losers, it would not surprise me if we see more IT hitting screens soon. Hell, if Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger can keep coming back from the dead, then so can Pennywise! Beep Beep!
It Chapter Two
- Story 88% 88%
- Scares 65% 65%
- Gore 50% 50%
- Music 64% 64%