"It Chapter Two" Review
It Chapter Two gives us the conclusion to the Losers story. The film goes big and tries to cram 900 pages of material into its nearly three hour run time. The transition from childhood to adulthood can be tough, and certainly showing that in the sequel to 2017’s It was a difficult task for director Andy Muschietti. His efforts have to be commended. However, with length and structure issues, this doesn’t hit the mark of its predecessor and might wind up being forgotten once you’ve left the theaters much like leaving the town of Derry.
Jumping off with a hate crime towards a homosexual couple, the film gives its first foreshadowing of what you’re about to see: intense setups with questionable or predictable payoffs. After a young man is dismembered by Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), and once Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) hears about the latest murder over a police scanner, he quickly calls the gang back to Derry to finish what they set out to do. Mike’s call to Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Ben (Jay Ryan), Richie (Bill Hader), Eddie (James Ransone) and Stanley (Andy Bean) sets off a chain reaction of fear reentering their lives before returning home.
Upon arriving back in Derry, the group quickly falls back into the friendships they left behind 27 years prior. The narrative is pretty straightforward from there. They have a job to do, and there’s an inventive way in which the internal clock on the group’s decision to carryout their mission is employed. Each character has their own moment to reconnect with their childhood fears and It, which is part of the reason for the bloating of the film. In fact, the film is light on the scares this time around in exchange for humor and the exploration of what it takes to overcome fear. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but its execution is fumbled in some stories.
The casting here is well suited. Bill Hader is stand out as Richie! From the moment he enters the frame, he embodies the role with a scene stealing richness that has to be applauded. (I doubt It: Chapter Two would receive any awards, but you could certainly make a case for Hader’s performance.) While we’re used to Jessica Chastain being a leading woman with a presence, she’s able to shrink herself enough to be one of the gang in a way that really works. It’s a shame that Skarsgard doesn’t get to do a lot with Pennywise in regard to screen time, but when he’s on the screen his performance is masterful.
Don’t get me wrong, Chapter Two has nice moments. Cinematographer, Checco Varese, is able to tap into our fears with the way he uses light in scenes. A lightning bug lights up Pennywise’s face in one scene, while the ugly fluorescent and neons in a fun house light another. Certainly the suspense and hair-raising moments of facing your fear is there. With sound being a huge component of creating scares, the sound department deserves their credit as well. It’s the quiet moments followed by the crescendo of a monsters footsteps getting closer and closer that really puts you in the zone.
Ultimately, this sequel doesn’t match the quality of the film before it due to the way the child ensemble masterfully handled the material and the fact that things that go bump in the night is a lot scarier when children are involved. There’s something about the way it feels more believable because we can remember when our imaginations ran wild and the friendly clown at the circus looked more like a threat then a fun time. That said, seeing the story conclude is much more satisfying this time around than the 90s mini-series.