Title: It Chapter Two
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgard
Review: I will admit it. I was a little nervous going into this one. I absolutely loved the first It, but I knew the second half of the story was the harder one to pull off. And, then, I kept hearing that maybe this one is a bit disappointing. The Rotten Tomatoes score is like 20 points lower than the original. Was one of my most anticipated movies of the year destined to be a letdown despite an amazing cast and a super talented director? Well, I’m here to tell you that the answer is no. I disagree wholeheartedly with anyone saying this movie was substantially worse than the first. While maybe a little campier than the original, I thought this roller coaster ride of a movie was just as fun and cannot wait to do a double feature some day.
First things first, this movie takes place 27 years after the original, right? When I was leaving the theater after the first movie, I remember having the thought process that they should just wait 27 years to make the next one. They should wait and use the same actors. That would be cool, right? Like a horror version of Boyhood. I mean… those child actors were just so good. There’s no way they could recapture that spirit with another group. I was way wrong. This cast is incredible. They don’t do that thing where they instantly show the kid version of a character when they’re introduced and you really don’t need it. Right away you know who is who. Not only do they actually look like grown up versions of the previous actors, but they act like them too. It’s brilliant. It actually got to the point that when they had a scene with both James McAvoy and his childhood counterpart, I was like “Whoa. That’s a cool visual effect.” Then common sense caught up with me. Those are two different people. They both exist in 2019. Duh. They just matched up so well that I almost forgot.
While the cast is amazing, that’s not what anyone is coming for though. They want to see the clown. And Bill Skarsgard is still knocking it out of the park in that regard. (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme.) Every time he was on screen, I had a blast. I just love that character so much. He’s both terrifying and hilarious. You can tell Skarsgard is having a blast and it’s a shame we won’t get to see anymore of that character.
I do have to admit though that I don’t think the scares are quite as strong here. I remember having several times where I was slouching down, hiding my face during the original because I was so scared. The projector scene especially stands out in my mind as one of the greatest jump scares of all time. This one didn’t really have any moments quite as effective. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s still scary. There are definitely several moments that will make your skin crawl and stick with you for a while. I just think they used up a lot of the really scary stuff the first time around.
Also, while we’re talking about negatives, it does get a little campier at times. We knew this was going to happen though. The more Stephen King explains Pennywise, the less scary he becomes. And, in order to defeat him, we have to learn a lot about him. They even lightheartedly (but heavy handedly), poke fun at King, saying he doesn’t know how to end a story. But, luckily, this movie isn’t all that concerned with the more ludicrous stuff from the book either. I’ve heard the book gets weird. This one… tiptoes the line but doesn’t concentrate on the origins all that much. There are a couple of scenes that get super strange, detailed oriented and feel unnecessary, but overall they just concentrate on the character arcs.
(While we’re talking about unnecessary scenes, this doesn’t really fit in with the rest of my review but I have to bring something up. The opening scene made me very uncomfortable. We basically see a hate crime take place and I’m not really sure why. It just reminded me that there is real awful stuff in the world and felt out of place in my murder alien clown movie.)
I am extremely thankful too that the characters are the main focus, because they are so good. I’d say, almost even more than the creepy clown stuff, they’re the part that’s going to stick with me in this franchise. Each character is so well developed. They each have such intricate story arcs and motivations. It’s really cool to watch. In a lot of ways, this movie felt like Endgame. It felt like a wrap up of an incredibly detailed story. What’s amazing is that it was only two movies, not 22. But, at the end, I still felt the same level of emotion. Like we were saying goodbye to some really good, fun characters that we’ve watched grow over 27 years. That’s quite the accomplishment for any movie, but super rare and extra special in the horror genre. I can’t wait to have a 5 1/2 hour It double feature in a couple months, because this is easily one of my favorite horror franchises.
TL;DR: While not as scary and slightly campier than the first, It Chapter Two is still a really strong, really fun horror flick with great performances and a strong story.
Score: Five Stars and My Heart (I loved it.)