“It: Chapter Two” Review

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“It: Chapter Two” Review

John Hepp, Reporter

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After 2017’s “It” blew audiences away, the sequel, “It: Chapter Two” debuted on Sept. 6 with high expectations. Directed by Andy Muschietti and boasting an all-star cast including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader, the bar was set high. “It” (2017) was amazing-one of my favorite movies of the year. However, “It: Chapter Two” simply doesn’t reach the bar set by its predecessor, ultimately culminating in a mediocre, messy horror movie.

“It: Chapter Two”, based on Stephen King’s novel “It”, is set 27 years after the events of the first movie, with the main characters now adults. They have to return to their hometown of Derry, Maine, after the evil entity known as Pennywise resurfaces, back again to reign terror on the town.

The plot itself is uneven and bizarre. We rush through the first act, only giving minimal amounts of screen time to introduce the now adult characters. The second act, however, is quite the opposite. It takes up the bulk of the movie, and just feels bloated, formulaic and predictable. Throughout the movie, there are many flashbacks to when the characters were kids, scenes not seen in the first movie. These scenes are meant to flesh out the characters, but they often feel jarring and unnecessary. They are distracting, taking the viewer out of the action, only to reinforce character traits that had already been established. The third act, much like the first, feels very rushed. There’s no buildup; it’s just time for the final boss fight. That being said, the ending is overall satisfying. These characters had been built up for two movies, and finally came full circle at the end.

Bill Skarsgard is again spectacular as Pennywise, giving a creepy and terrifying performance I won’t soon forget. I just wish that the script had given Pennywise more screen time to actually be Pennywise, something that was a highlight of the first movie. Instead, there are more CGI monsters that our protagonists have to defeat, which just aren’t as scary or interesting as Pennywise. Contrary to the book, Pennywise’s character and origins are barely explained, which can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the original story. It leads his character to feel one-dimensional; all we know about him is that he’s evil, nothing more.

The ensemble cast that makes up the loser’s club is fantastic. They all gel fantastically, with plenty of hilarious banter. Bill Hader as adult Richie Tozier stands out in particular, mostly for his outbursts of one-liners in precarious situations. One thing the movie does very well is flesh out its protagonists; all of our heros feel like layered people. The one exception, however, is Henry Bowers, the bully from the first movie. In the novel, he is one of the most intriguing characters, but in the movie his screen time is so minimal that he almost seems like a non-factor.

The humor was actually a lot more prevalent than I expected it to be, with side-splitting one liners and jokes all throughout. Another one of the things that is done fantastically is the mix of comedic and horrific tones. Characters crack jokes and banter, but never at the expense of taking the viewer out of the horror. As far as the horror aspects go, they’re good, if not great. There are some genuinely terrifying moments, but at the same time others that are just underwhelming. The horror is at its best when it’s subtle, but it rarely is. Instead, Muschietti chooses to show his hand in almost every scene, just throwing some bland monster, like a witch or ghoul, at the viewer.

Overall, I was disappointed. As someone who read the original novel, I knew that the first iteration would be superior, but the sequel falls very short of the high bar set by the first. Narratively inconsistent and predictable, albeit with a few good scenes and great acting, “It: Chapter Two” is underwhelming and forgettable. 2.5 paws out of 5.

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