“IT CHAPTER 2” is coming to theaters this weekend. Andy Muschietti is back directing this sequel with Gary Dauberman this time, penning the script on his own. The young cast is back, and their older selves are making their debut headlined by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. This section of the story is set 27 years after the events of the first film. The tormented kids of the ‘Losers Club’ are now the mentally fractured adults of the ‘Losers Club’. All living their lives in different cities. Trying to move on and forget the events of the past each in their own way. They will end up reluctantly meeting when they are all called back to Derry after the same violent killings from their childhoods begin to happen again.
The last movie blew past expectations and grossed over $700 million worldwide. It was also was met with generally positive reviews among the critics and rightfully so. I enjoyed this new vision of the classic Stephen King novel and felt it was successfully able to infuse new creative inspiration into the premise, while still for the most part keeping the important beats of the original work in place. I was ready to see this sequel and take the journey of the adult versions of these characters. I was ready to see more of Pennywise, as well as some appealing horror moments. And despite some of its small problems, I think this movie delivers those things with a layered story to complement it all.
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The cast from top-to-bottom is fantastic and with plenty of screen-time given to the grown-up characters as well as the younger versions we remember from the last movie with everyone having their moments. Yes, the adult cast is more the focus, but for the needs of the story there was a nice balance. And surprisingly, while James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain are the headlining names. To me it was the performances from Bill Hader and James Ransone that were the bright-spots. I think everyone did a great job of mirroring the personalities of the younger actors to create that needed seamless vibe. One to me that was able to truly make them feel like the grown-up versions of characters. Which naturally enabled me to connect with each like I already knew them. Yet Hader and Ransone were able to land the not only a similar comical timing, but also the same energy that Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer convey as their younger counterparts.
I felt in the last film that Wolfhard and Grazer were the shining lights along with Sophia Lillis as a young Beverly. And in this one, that same trait carried over as Ransone and Hader were the anchors for giving this movie the charm it had between all the killing and scary set-pieces. However, that is not to say that both McAvoy and Chastain were not fantastic. Because there is no question there were all these characters needed and more. I guess we possibly get spoiled from theirs and other greats when it comes to their acting skills. When they can deliver emotionally driven performances that completely sell us but still (at times) feels like a case of witnessing great performers, performing greatly. And doesn’t leave as much of an impact because it’s somewhat customary. Either way, everyone was fantastic in giving substance to their characters that the viewer can easily invest in.
This was a story-driven movie as it explores the adult lives of the ‘Losers Club’ and with this cast I think the variety in the emotional torment was effectively captured. This is a horror movie that lasts nearly three hours but with a continual progression of the story, and the lives of the characters, it stills works to provide compelling entertainment. Everyone has moved on and faced the events of the past in different ways and it was interesting to see the varying effects it took on them. The script certainly takes its time and layers in the detail. This does cause it to run long but at the same time, it also keeps the intrigue up at high levels so it’s hard to fault the length too much. Plus, there are a lot of horror set-pieces of varying degree worked in between the all the story-telling. Most of which I must admit are well-crafted and work perfectly for the timing of the story to hit with impact.
There was a creative visual appeal to many of them that builds genuine uneasiness because you don’t really know what will happen, or where it will happen from. And despite a narrative that went from past-to-present many times. With multiple characters to progress and many horror set-pieces placed in throughout it surprisingly never felt stale or lacking cohesion. Skarsgård as Pennywise was phenomenal once again. This movie uses him much better than the last in my opinion. It doesn’t rely of him alone for scares which makes his appearances in the story that much more menacing. And there is a difference to his tactics in menacing the older characters as opposed to the younger ones that mixed things up in a good way.
I won’t say all the visual-effects worked. But many did and they were pleasantly violent, sudden in their delivery, differing in their approach, and frequently unpredictable, which equals entertainment to me. There was a good flow between all the moving pieces, and every needed element got its time without making the movie feel choppy. The direction and cinematography were incredible. Muschietti in how he framed many shots was able to capture the emotions of the characters on a consistent basis. The foreboding uneasiness that loomed over the unassumingly ominous town of Derry was incredible and it pulled me immediately back into the world of the story. It’s a beautifully shot film that is intimate in places, unrelenting in others, and pretty much everything else in between to create a fun roller coaster of emotions.
This was a frightening horror film in many stretches that was also able to be genuinely heartfelt in others and the combination results is a great movie that caps off this story with the layers of needed detail. But I did have some problems with it. Like I mentioned the run-time is a little on the excessive side. At 169 minutes, regardless of a story-line that showed an attention to detail, it could have been trimmed back in a handful of places. I think doing this could have kicked the pace up, tightened the second-act slightly, and also cleaned up some of the not-so-good visual-effects in a few of the smaller set-pieces. Much of the film has a very polished visual appeal. But there were a couple of scenes that looked pretty dated given what the rest on the movie shows us. And with a shorter run-time a couple could have been removed, and there still would be plenty of other creepy sequences to enjoy.
Overall though the length was the biggest drawback for me but certainly not a deal breaker. The story was intriguing, and it held my attention. But for the length, even if certain scenes been trimmed and others removed, the pace could have stayed more consistent. Yet, in the end it was a good time. I really enjoyed what it created and when paired with the first film I think this has been a fantastic adaptation of King’s novel. This movie had huge cast and a long list of tasks to complete and it accomplished what it needed in my opinion and is certainly worth a viewing on the big-screen.