It Chapter Two
WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2019)
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård
2017’s It was a massive success (and a massive surprise) and it’s taken director Andy Muschietti a full two years to complete and unleash the follow-up, the pithily subtitled Chapter Two. It worked mainly due to the chemistry of its great young ensemble and the chilling presence of Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown – and, of course, having a solid story to follow certainly didn’t hurt anything along the way. There was a real coming-of-age feel to that movie, some great Amblin-esque visuals and memorable moments to boot.
Chapter Two could conceivably be called 2019’s most anticipated sequel (certainly one of them) based on the reception of the previous effort. With that came even higher expectations and excitement leaving Muschietti with a tough task. This time around, the now-grown-up Losers Club have to return to Derry twenty-seven years later as their nemesis has awoken once again to terrorise the children of the town – and it’s up to them to take Pennywise down once and for all. The ‘adults’ section of the novel and 1990 TV movie was always noted as the weaker aspect of the story – grown adults being chased by a clown just doesn’t have the same feeling, especially given how good the kids were in 2017. Could Muschietti deliver the goods one more time? Kind of. You see, Chapter Two is two hours and forty-five minutes long, which in itself isn’t an issue, the issue is it’s about twenty-five minutes too long and the story struggles to contain itself and stay on track. The majority of the movie is each of the Losers remembering a certain time from their past, thus giving a flashback utilising the younger cast. When there are seven of the gang…that takes time. Too much time. It’s those flashbacks that provide the main highlights because the kids just work better. The adults are all perfectly cast and great within their roles, but the menace doesn’t feel the same. Muschietti relies heavily on jump scares this time and the atmosphere suffers due to this and Benjamin Wallfisch’s telegraphing score – plus the creatures/monsters this time around feel less inspired and the CGI doesn’t look great at points.
The adult ensemble proved to be inspired casting, each looking eerily like a grown-up counterpart to their younger selves. Bill Hader stole the show as Richie but collectively, the entire Losers Club was spot on with their performances. Some of their dialogue, however, wasn’t always spot on. The writing was just fine for the majority of Chapter Two, but certain moments did clang. In fact, the worst moments in the movie were the more far-out sections of the book which is a shame (think: spider). The entirety of the third act suffered due to this and the movie lost any ‘real-world’ sense it had. What Muschietti did do was to go harder on the violence and gore (It was criticised for its lack of these elements) so that should appease those wanting more darker aspects, however, the movie itself still wasn’t scary, which is a shame. As for Pennywise? There was a distinct lack of dancing clown here, it seemed the filmmakers opted for the Jaws approach of less-is-more, however, too little is disappointing. Some of the set pieces in the first two acts are great (and the Losers reunion was wonderfully done) and those acts are where the movie shines brightest. The bonkers third act is where things quickly fall apart. The ending though? Brilliant. Muschietti ties his two movies up wonderfully allowing both his adult cast and young cast to shine one last time.
It Chapter Two always had a seemingly insurmountable task. Having to top a magnificent first effort complete with a beloved young cast, great moments and full of nostalgic vibes was always going to be tough so it comes as no surprise that Chapter Two falls short. Both movies have clearly been a passion project for Muschietti and it’s apparent he relished the opportunity, however, Chapter Two feels too indulgent and messy at times which is a huge shame. There are some great moments but also a lot of padding which left it all feeling a little too bloated - maybe it was the anticipation, but It Chapter Two was sadly disappointing.
September 7th 2019