IT CHAPTER TWO Review: More Blood, More Violence, Less Teamwork

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Director: Andy Muschietti, ScreenplayGary Dauberman, Story byStephen King, ProducersBarbara MuschiettiRoy LeeDan Lin

Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgård

SYNOPSIS: In the sleepy town of Derry, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to torment the grown-up members of the Losers’ Club, who have long since drifted apart from one another.

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

(L-r) JAMES RANSONE as Eddie Kaspbrak, JAY RYAN as Ben Hascomb, ISAIAH MUSTAFA as Mike Hanlon, JAMES MCAVOY as Bill Denbrough, JESSICA CHASTAIN as Beverly Marsh and BILL HADER as Richie Tozier in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
PHOTO CREDIT: Brooke Palmer
© 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

After 27 years, the unsung heroes of Derry Maine must return to take on Pennywise the Dancing Clown once again. The Loser’s Club swore an oath to return if Pennywise ever returned to the small town, and of course he does. After an Avengers style roundup, the Losers reconvene and discuss all that has happened since the last time they took on the scourge of Derry.

The film is perhaps more violent than its predecessor. There are several scenes that should carry a trigger warning. The opening of the film in particular depicts a very graphic hate crime against a gay couple. Moments like this are sure to incite some moviegoers to rail against the film. Though scenes like this do feature prominently in the book, it may have been wise to tone them down, or modify them for the screenplay.

Any fan of the previous movie will enjoy the additional scenes of the Losers as children. For the most part, these scenes are woven well into the new elements of the story. At times, they almost feel like deleted scenes being injected into an extended Director’s Cut. Any book readers who felt like crucial moments were left out of Part 1 may have their wishes granted in Part 2!

READER BEWARE! SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!

As a fan of the book and the earlier film, I was really looking forward to Chapter 2 and on the whole, it did not disappoint. The performances and emotional moments had me feeling for the Losers all over again. There is a greater focus on the role of fear, the power of friendship, and the part that childhood experiences play on adult life.

Separating the novel into 2 films raised a lot of questions for fans of this story. The narrative is somewhat dependent on both the childhood and adult sections of the story being told in synchrony. I was surprised at the number of flashbacks to events from Part 1. It almost felt as though the writers decided that those elements should have been included previously, and so they backtracked to fill out the story.

IT is a quite dense novel with a very wide range of content. Racism, homophobia, suicide, mysticism, and infertility are just a few of the issues that take center stage during the book. Chapter 2 attempts to present most of these at some point, but it doesn’t all read as well together in a 3-hour film as it does in a 1,000-page book. I think many viewers will be thrown by the pseudo-magical elements of the movie.

Homophobia is addressed through a few different story-lines in the movie. The hate crime in the first few minutes serves up some of the same emotional cues as Georgie’s death in Part 1. In each case, a character that should be cared for and protected is brutally murdered by Pennywise. Unfortunately, the events in Chapter 2 played more with shock value than genuine emotion.

Though many fans will likely enjoy the big scenes in this movie (the Chinese Restaurant scene in particular!), I think some of its flaws will be hard to overlook. The pacing wasn’t perfect, and the scares weren’t as unique. As a unit, both Parts 1 & 2 do a great job of hitting many of the big moments of the book. Individually, Part 1 is a bit more successful overall. I rate Part 1 at an A-, and Part 2 at a B-.

There’s a lot more to unpack in this film, so let me know what you thought on Twitter and Instagram!

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