Kennedy London, Associate Arts & Entertainment Editor
With the massive commercial and critical success of the 2017 horror movie “IT”, it became obvious that the second part of Stephen King’s story had to be adapted as well. Due to the 1986 novel being over 1000 pages, you can’t really make a nearly 5 hour long film. Asking anyone to sit though that is a towering feat.
“IT Chapter Two” takes place 27 years after the first film where an older Losers Club is called by member Mike Hanlon to return back to Derry, ME because Pennywise the Dancing clown has returned. Once returned, each member has to face their own individual fear and sacrifice a remnant from their past in order to face Pennywise and defeat him for good.
“Chapter Two” is a wildly entertaining, touching, often emotional, funny, and well crafted horror blockbuster that knows how to have fun. Even though it’s not as scary or creepy as the first, the movie still contains solid scares and a good atmosphere. It also has a giant of a runtime at two hours and 49 minutes.
Director Andy Muschietti, who directed the 2017 “IT”, directs this one, and immediately, you can tell he is having a lot of fun. He raises the drama, the scale, the adventure and focuses on how important it is to have a comradery like the Losers do. He also delivers in the numerous scares and paranoia that Pennywise taunts the Losers with.
Speaking of Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård reprises his role as the murderous and sadistic clown and delivers again. Pennywise is creepy, chilling, skin-crawling, and an absolute joy to watch. His taunts, presence, and ruthless demeanor all combine to create a character that Skarsgård nails and champions.
The real gold of “Chapter Two” comes from the Losers themselves. Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) feel more like friends, they feel like family. Everyone gets to have their moment and no one feels less than the group.
The performances are all great with McAvoy, Chastain, and Hader each having standout performances. The way Hader balances biting comedy with heartbreaking drama is marvelous to watch, while McAvoy and Chastain are giving plenty to work with to show off their great dramatic chops. Also, Isaiah Mustafa also deserves some recognition as his emotionally damaged performance as Mike is very impressive.
The script by “IT” co-writer Gary Dauberman gives the characters enough space to breath and grow their wings and become a family again, which has faded away over the last nearly three decades. The score by English composer Benjamin Wallfisch, who composed the first film, creates another great score that is theatrical, thunderous, and somber.
The editing by Jason Ballantine is good; the cinematography by Checco Varese is solid, and the hefty runtime is not bothersome if you are invested in the film.
There are two complaints I have with “It Chapter Two”. The first is the CGI, which is not bad, but noticeable. The CGI gets more and more noticeable as the film goes on, especially in the climatic final act in Pennywise’s lair. The CGI also lessens the effect of the scares in this film. There are also flashbacks to when the Losers Club were kids to fill in some gaps and de-aging technology is used, which isn’t that noticeable.
The second complaint are some of the scares themselves. They do not linger long after you see them and they are more so quick and onto the next one. While there are a solid amount of jump scares that work, they aren’t as scary or creepy as the first film. Due to the fact that the horror is bigger in this movie, it ultimately doesn’t make the horror better.
Flaws aside, “IT Chapter Two” is a satisfying and entertaining companion piece to the first one, even though the first film is better. The performances, the humor, the somber atmosphere, the effective dramatic beats, and the solid scares all combine to create a very good experience.