By Gilberto Campa
In 2017 one of the biggest surprises of that movie season was the critical and financial hit that was IT. The modern retelling of the classic Stephen King novel featuring Pennywise the dancing clown terrorizing the group of kids from Derry known as “The Losers Club”. The sequel to the first chapter is soon to be released with much anticipation for how director Andy Muschietti will stick the landing.
The first thing that stuck out was the perfect casting choices of the older Loser’s Club as the actors that were chosen (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, James Ransone and Andy Bean) had the same traits, behaviors and looks as the younger counterparts. Much of what the movie is and what the story deals with is not what you think going into it, Pennywise is as violent as ever and shows no mercy against the club and the citizens of Derry.
Bill Skarsgard who gave an amazing performance in the first movie, ups the ante in the sequel as he gets to dig even deeper into what makes Pennywise tick while also showing vulnerability. There are a few sequences in Chapter 2 that are very intense and disturbing to watch that just adds to the threat and true horror that is Pennywise. But even with all of the crazy and ridiculous things going on it is hard to look away as the cinematography once again shines, bringing the very dull town of Derry to life. With a solid beginning and build up to the third act the film does deliver on the type of slow burn that it has. Unfortunately unlike the first film there are sequences and moments that have little to no impact to the rest of the movie.
It is almost the opposite of what the first movie was so the second chapter even though it delivers on the scares (more jump scares), the story becomes a little convoluted in some parts. Particularly with Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) and his arch (without going into spoilers) as he is the one who brings the club back together after being apart for 27 years. Even though the flashback sequences gave more contexts and helped to connect both movies, it did not really help in the overall narrative. I would have decided to trim the movie down by maybe 20 or 30 minutes as the scenes with the younger losers got a little repetitive.
The MVP for this movie besides Skarsgard HAS to be Bill Hader as Ritchie Tozler, the wise cracking joker of the Loser’s Club. Bill Hader who has gotten to show much more range than just comedy in the last few projects that he has been involved in (If you haven’t watched Barry then what are you waiting for?) eats the scenery and steals so many scenes in the movie (delivers the best jokes). Every time he was on screen you wanted more of him as he went through one of the toughest times with Pennywise in the movie. What really hurt this movie in my opinion was the run time, it didn’t need to be as long as it was, and for me it hurts the film.
Yes, the book of the same name includes so many details and parts that were portrayed very well in the movie, but not all of it needed to be in it to work. If you never read the book the third act of the film may feel very wonky and out of place compared to the first two acts. If you did read the book then much of what is done in the film will leave you satisfied, but I think that a more loose adaptation when it came to the ending should have been done. Similar to other direct adaptations of books, the movie overall just had too much to balance and it seemed like they wanted to have the most faithful adaptation of the book and were too hesitant to deviate a little bit and take some risks. Despite its breathtaking scares and very personal moments between the losers, IT Chapter 2 just had too many parts to put together.