MOVIE REVIEW — It: Chapter Two
In 2017, Argentinian filmmaker Andy Muschietti debuted his remake/variation of Stephen King’s It, to much critical acclaim and commercial success, being the ninth highest grossing film of 2017. It felt like if you were anyone, you were talking about it around its release two years ago, and yet, I did not see the 2017 version of the film until two days ago in prep for It: Chapter Two’s release yesterday. So while I may not have seen it upon its initial release, or been a part of the hype train over the past two years, I will say that with the announcements of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader leading the cast of the adults Losers Club, my interest was piqued. So, after a promising reboot to this clownish nightmare, how does the nearly three hour sequel fare?
Here are my semi-spoilerish thoughts on It: Chapter Two (nothing major will be spoiled):
It: Chapter Two kicks things off right at the end of the 2017 film, with the Losers Club having successfully taken down It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard), as they make a blood pact to return to Derry should the evil force ever return. Fast forward 27 years later, and just that has occurred, as the we are brought back into a modern day Derry, as Pennywise makes his grim resurrection. While Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) has remained in his hometown to keep tabs on the situation for all these years, the rest of the club has moved on in their personal lives, and in the process, forgotten all about their duel with the Clown. Bill (James McAvoy) is now a novelist-turned-screenwriter, Eddie (James Ransone) is now a Risk Management expert, Ben (Jay Ryan) has grown into a successful architect, Richie (Bill Hader) is now a stand-up comedian, and as for Stanley (Andy Bean) and Beverly (Jessica Chastain), we don’t get to find out much about what they have moved onto besides being in marriages, Bev’s being another abusive relationship like the one she had with her father years ago. Mike must reconvene the Losers Club for one final time in order to take down Pennywise for good, bringing about his reign of terror over the town of Derry.
So, as mentioned in the beginning of this review, It: Chapter Two is nearly three hours long, (two hours and fifty minutes to be exact) and that is my biggest issue with this movie. While it is totally understandable to make the sequel, and climax to the overarching story, feel bigger and bolder than its predecessor, I personally felt as if the movie squandered having a longer runtime, mainly on one subplot that I will delve into deeper in a bit. While the film offers some truly great, and I mean GREAT, sequences throughout, I could not help but also really feel the length hit hard at times (keep in mind, I just saw Lawrence of Arabia in theaters last week and had no issues there). Had 20 minutes or so been shaved off of this movie, I genuinely believe it would be better than the 2017 film, however it shoots itself in the foot here.
Speaking of the aforementioned subplot, Henry Bowers is a character who was inherently important in the first movie, and from my little understanding of the book, is also a big deal in the “present-day” section. However, his usage in this movie is laughable at best, and not in a good way. Anytime he was on screen it felt as if he was detracting from the rest of the film. He has one truly big moment, which ends up meaning nothing by the time the movie is over. From what I have seen online, people are expecting his story to be improved upon in the massive 6-hour cut of both movies that is being worked on, but I still can not justify them spending the time to deal with him in this movie the way they do, when they could have simply left him dead and veered off course from the source material on this one.
Now, finally onto the positives! The cinematography throughout this movie was legitimately mesmerizing. There were so many cool, innovative shots throughout, whether it be the transition from starry sky into puzzle board or the entirety of the Fun House sequence, seriously, I was more invested in the camerawork at times then I was at being scared. The direction and cinematography were superb throughout, so if you are looking for a technically sound, big-budget horror movie, then this is definitely for you. And in speaking of the direction, Andy Muschietti has recently gone on record that his next movie is DC’s The Flash, (presumably still starring Ezra Miller) and after seeing these two films, I have to say I am excited to see what he can bring to the comic book movie world in terms of his directing style, but that is a topic for another day.
The big takeaway from this movie is the cast. I have seen varying opinions on the adult version of the Losers Club, but I am in the camp of they nailed this aspect of the film. Everyone feels like their younger selves, just aged up, even Ben, who went from being a small chubby kid, to being the most objectively attractive male in the entire group. Obviously fans were excited that the fan-casting of Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy ended up actually coming true, and while one of those three offer an awards worthy performance, I would like to draw attention to James Ransone who plays the adult version of Eddie (played by Jack Dylan Grazer in the first movie). Not only does he capture Grazer’s mannerisms to a tee, but he also looks like what you would expect him to grow up to look like. Whoever was behind the casting of this movie deserves a raise.
Right so, can I talk about Bill Hader now? No? Okay cool, I am still gonna go for it. Bill Hader is a national treasure and has grown into a fine actor over the past few years. The man is a dynamic force that commands the screen whether it be comedic or dramatic roles. With the debut of HBO’s Barry, Hader began to turn eyes as to what he was truly capable, and I think that was even more the case this year with season two of that show, and now with his turn as Richie in this movie. He lights up the screen throughout the film, bringing his specific charm to the role, while also selling the absolute fear that Pennywise is capable of instilling even in adults better than any of the other members of the Losers Club. He is also a key factor in one of the most haunting visuals of the movie. Like, I gasped, my eyes went wide, and I sat in my seat in pure terror during this (excuse the unprofessional nature of that sentence, trying to be vague, but it also is just such a wild image to picture even now) scene, with Hader doing a bit of fantastic physical acting.
(Seriously though, as soon as you finish reading this review, go watch Barry and talk about it with anyone and everyone!)
Also, Bill Skarsgard is excellent as Pennywise, but I think literally everyone who has seen either the first movie or both knows how great he is. I really am hopeful that he does not end up getting typecast as a creepy villain for the rest of his career. Speaking of which, check out the trailer for his new movie being released this fall called Villains! It looks like it is gonna be a wildly different role for him, and another insane movie.
It: Chapter Two fails to reach the bar that its predecessor set back in 2017, however it still warrants a watch (highly recommend in theaters solely for audience reactions). Featuring standout performances from Bill Hader and James Ransone, this film knocks it out of the park in its casting of the Losers Club. McAvoy and Chastain are as good as anyone expected, while the rest of the group carry their weight, bringing great energy to the group dynamic of the film. Superb cinematography and direction help elevate this from being a cookie cutter horror flick as well, with director Andy Muschietti and cinematographer Checco Varese both taking this opportunity to show what they are capable of behind the camera.
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The Ten Best Movies of 2019 (So Far) & My Most Anticipated Films for the Rest of 2019
The Best Of and Most Anticipated Releases Of 2019!
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