It Chapter Two, 2019.
Directed by Andy Muschietti.
Starring James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Skargard, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, and Nicholas Hamilton.
Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
With the release of Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two, the follow up to the massive 2017 hit, on blu-ray today so ends the adaptation of one Stephen King’s most well known and regarded novels. Whereas the first film was a pretty tight and concise story, this second one never meets its ambitions as it adapts the rest of King’s novel. Even with the great adult cast that has been assembled, It: Chapter Two feels very bloated and loses out on many of the qualities that made the first film such a success. One of the saving graces of the blu-ray is the wealth of special features included, making it much more worthwhile.
27 years after confronting the evil Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and lead very different lives after having forgotten about their traumatic summer. They are called back to their hometown of Derry after Pennywise reawakens and band together to destroy him once and for all, hoping to end his cycle of feasting on children.
The best thing about Chapter Two, as with the first film, is the cast and the chemistry between them. Each of the grown up Losers does a great job with their roles and seeming like older versions of the young cast. James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader stand out as Bill, Beverly and Richie, but James Ransone also makes a big impression as the older Eddie and resembles Jack Dylan Grazer the most in terms of physical look and mannerisms. His and Hader’s chemistry is one of the strongest pairings with each actor playing their comedic timing of each other well. Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan also do well as the older Mike and Ben, though they’re not given quite as much focus as the others in the group.
The strength of the cast actually leads to one of the weaker elements of the film. Once the Losers are back together in Derry, the second act largely has them separated for a good chunk of time as each of the characters go on their own individual quest to gather items that will help them defeat Pennywise. It’s a big shame since the cast has such great chemistry together that we don’t get more time with them as a group before the big climax. It also hurts the film because each scene with the characters is rather repetitive as it follows the same format: the older character goes to find their totem, flashes back to an unseen time from the original film where Pennywise attacked them, then they meet Pennywise again as they collect their item. It gets old fairly quickly. The only positive is we get to see the original cast again.
Of course, there is the main antagonist Pennywise who is once again played excellently by Bill Skarsgard. However, Skarsgard’s performance is both a positive and negative element of Chapter Two. He still steals every scene he’s in and gives off a very creepy presence, but he has much less screentime than he did in the first film while his performance is marred by an overabundance of CGI. Skarsgard isn’t physically in the film very much as replaced by CGI or even various other monstrous forms of Pennywise, especially in the climax when the Losers confront him for the final time. It’s disappointing when one of the most memorable aspects of It was Skarsgard’s physical performance.
It doesn’t help that many of the scares just don’t seem creepy enough either and at times repetitive as well. A couple moments stand out, such as Bill trying to rescue a kid in a hall of mirrors or Richie getting attacked by a Paul Bunyan statue, but everything else largely feels generic. Clocking in at nearly 3 hours, the overly long runtime feeds into the repetitiveness. It feels like a fair bit could have been trimmed, particularly during the second and third acts. There is a nice focus on the characters and how difficult it can be to move on from the past and not let childhood traumas define you, but those themes get a bit lost at times. Chapter Two is at least well filmed with good cinematography and well lit sequences, but its not enough to make the film more compelling.
The special features included on the blu-ray are:
The Summers of It: Chapter One – You’ll Float Too (36 min) – A mini-documentary focusing on the beginning of these films. Andy Muschietti and his sister Barbara, who is a producer on the films, talk about their love of King’s novel and what it was like casting the kids. There’s also a nice look at Skarsgard’s first make-up and costume fittings as Pennywise and the kids’ first reactions to seeing him on set. The friendship between the kids is quite clear is speaks to why the first film was so good while there’s also a funny bit with Barbara hoping to get Jessica Chastain for the sequel long before they even approached her.
The Summers of It: Chapter Two – IT Ends (40 min) – Another mini-doc on the sequel. Andy and Barbara discuss how they were talking about who to cast as adults during the first film with even the kids throwing in their fancasts, like Finn Wolfhard suggesting Bill Hader. There’s also a cool bit where the kids wrote letters to the older cast in character so they would get a better understanding of how much the first film affected them. Stephen King himself also makes several appearances to talk about the book and the production, including his cameo. We also get nice looks at several of the film;s big sequences, such as Beverly’s big bloodThere’s also the revelation that though Skarsgard was on set during the big climax, he merely read his lines to the cast while motion capture was used to capture his performance. It just speaks to one of the film’s biggest weaknesses in not utilizing Skarsgard fully.
Pennywise Lives Again (10 min) – Looking at Skarsgard’s return as Pennywise and the differences between the villain in the first and second film. We get to see more of the mo-cap test with Skarsgard for the climax and some other scenes and hear from Skarsgard himself on his approach to Chapter Two.
This Meeting of the Loser’s Club Has Officially Begun (8 min) – How the older actors were cast in the film. We hear a bit about how they were approached as well as a bit more about the letters their younger counterparts left for them. It’s a nice look at how they came into the roles and made them their own while honouring the work the kids did.
Finding The Deadlights (6 min) – This feature is largely about Stephen King and how he wrote It. There’s a focus on the book’s themes with King saying a lot of the story’s messages were drawn from his own childhood. We also get a further look at his cameo appearance in the film.
It: Chapter Two isn’t exactly a bad follow up to It, but it’s not a great one either. The pacing slows things down and makes it really repetitive while the lack of Skarsgard and the Losers’ time together is really felt. The older cast at least do well carrying the torch left from the young cast and the amount of special features and insight into both films’ production will make plenty of It fans happy.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★