Review: It: Chapter Two
Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two garnered some attention for its nearly 3-hour-long runtime. Considering the length of Stephen King's novel, the runtime of the film isn't all that surprising. Tommy Lee Wallace's 1990 adaptation even took the form of a miniseries. Although Muschietti's movies are a vast improvement over the 1990 miniseries, It: Chapter Two becomes so repetitive that one can't help but wonder if the films would have been more successful as a series instead. However, the hefty runtime isn't the worst thing about It: Chapter Two.
It's rare for a horror film to clock in at almost 3 hours, but this one is surprisingly a breeze to sit through. With so many characters, the movie has a lot going on and seldom feels boring. It only starts to drag in its final act.
The film certainly isn't the best Stephen King adaptation, but it captures the essence of King's work like no other. At its core, this is a story about the importance of facing our inner demons. Each member of the Losers Club experienced different childhood traumas that molded them into the adults they grew up to be. "It" takes many forms, most notably the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). But "it" is merely our fears personified. "It" is the aspects of ourselves that we try to hide or run from.
In It: Chapter Two, 27 years have gone by and "it" has returned to Derry, Maine. Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) is the only member of the Losers Club who still resides in Derry. When he realizes that "it" is back, he calls up the other members of the Losers Club and reminds them of the oath they made. As depicted in the 2017 film, Bill (Jaeden Martell), Beverly (Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) swore they'd return to Derry if "it" ever came back.
One of It: Chapter Two's most impressive accomplishments is Rich Delia's casting. Jessica Chastain stars as Beverly, who is a successful fashion designer living in Chicago. She escapes an abusive marriage by returning to Derry after receiving Mike's phone call. James McAvoy stars as Bill, who currently works as a novelist. After constantly being bullied for his size, Ben (Jay Ryan) lost weight. He moved to Nebraska and became an architect. Richie (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian. James Ransone stars as Eddie, who is now a risk assessor in New York City. All of the members of the Losers Club return to Derry after hearing from Mike, except for Stanley (Andy Bean). Solid performances and well-crafted characters save the film from being a slog.
The CGI in the film is off-putting, and some of the effects are laughable or cheesy. At times the visuals feel akin to something out of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice. Considering the source material, there are plenty of opportunities for an adaptation of It to incorporate creepy imagery instead of jump scares, but the film ultimately favors the latter.
It: Chapter Two is at its strongest when it's focused on its characters and their struggles to confront their childhood traumas. The subtext is more effective than the scares. Similarly, the humor is also very hit-or-miss. A few of the jokes land while others are poorly timed. As a result, the film suffers from an uneven tone and haphazard screenplay. It's a bit of a mess, albeit an entertaining one.
With a strong cast and source material, the movie undoubtedly feels like wasted potential. Nonetheless, it's not a complete disaster. It's shockingly engaging despite its bloated runtime. It also makes for a rather satisfying conclusion. It: Chapter Two has more heart than horror, and that's what makes it work despite its flaws.
It: Chapter Two is now playing nationwide.