Release Date: September 5, 2019
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard
Synopsis: 27 years have passed since the events of IT (2017) and the members of The Loser’s Club are beckoned to return to their hometown of Derry, Maine as the evil Pennywise awakens upon a heinous and most vicious crime. With scars upon their palms serving as a faint reminder of a promise made long ago, The Losers embark on a journey back into madness as they seek to destroy IT once and for all.
Rating: 3/4 stars
IT Chapter Two had a lot riding on it from the start. With a little over three weeks out in theaters and having seen the film twice, I asked myself two questions: is it good, and does it hold up? For those who have yet to see the film, no worries. I’ll wrap up my responses to the two questions without spoilers.
When I first watched IT Chapter Two, I was both equally excited and guarded at the same time. Considering the reviews and reactions coming out prior to its release, IT Chapter Two looked to be a mostly serviceable film with some stand out moments and a drag of a runtime. To be quite honest, I wasn’t as preoccupied with the runtime; instead, I found myself caught up in the intrigue and lead-up. After the final shot faded to black and the credits began to roll, I looked around with those who attended the movie with me and began to praise the film. It was quite good, and near damn exciting. Moments came to mind that not only stir unease, but even moreso left a shudder or two. At that time, I found the pacing to be on point with enough time to catch up and bring closure for characters we’ve come to know while also doubling down on chills and thrills.
I watched the film again the following weekend. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing, and while I had started to write a review, I had difficulty completing it. I kept wondering why, and I figured I needed to see the film again with a new set of eyes to see if it held up. Much like my first viewing, I was excited and trepidatious considering the behemoth of its runtime. I knew what to expect in terms of key moments, and after watching the film a second time, I must admit that certain moments do drag at times. More often than not, I found myself wanting to arrive to the end much quicker than I had anticipated. Still, the sequences and spectacle that did arrive were as palpable and pulsating as they were during the first sitting.
With that in consideration, I have to scale some of the praise back just slightly. While IT Chapter Two does well to compact a giant epic of horror from its original source material, it does feel long and laborious in arriving to its final conclusion. Where IT (2017) focused on the plight of children confronting and fighting to end Pennywise’s reign of terror, IT Chapter Two seeks to do the same with greater spectacle for their adult selves.
While IT Chapter Two is not a perfect film, it does succeed in gathering an ensemble cast of actors seamlessly embodying their child counterparts, quirks and all. Performances from Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, Jessica Chastain are standouts while James McAvoy does a fine job that at times does feel he’s acting. Loser Club alumni from IT (2017) are as quippy and snappy as ever and their appearances in flashbacks are welcome and filled with some incredibly effective scares. To add onto that, the new cast of modern child actors provide for some of the more chilling and darker moments. And Bill Skarsgard’s devilishly heinous monster, Pennywise, has much more to play with as presence not only delivers terror but peppers in much flavor to an already iconic villain.
IT Chapter Two is a much more mature outing marked with mostly successful maintenance of heart and humor from the first despite some uneven pacing issues. With news that Andy Muschietti and Co are working to compile a supercut interwinning the two with added scenes previously filmed and yet to be filmed, much excitement is to be had with an already great horror saga.
IT Chapter Two is rated R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material.