IT Chapter Two is a flawed but effective companion to Warner Bros. 2017 hit horror film. Back in 2017, IT arrived in theaters at a time where 80’s nostalgia was at an all-time high due to the success of Netflix’s hit sci-fi series, Stranger Things. While the film didn’t offer as many references to the 80’s like Stranger Things, it did an amazing job depicting what it was like being a kid during that decade. Now, two years later the second half has arrived and it doesn’t stick the landing without being a bit muddled.
Adapted from one of Stephen King’s best novels, IT Chapter Two continues the story of The Losers Club. Now grownup and far away from Derry, the Losers return to fulfill an oath 27 years in the making. Pennywise has returned from its slumber and the Losers unite to face off against their fears and put them to bed once and for all. Directed by Andy Muschietti and written by Gary Dauberman, IT Chapter Two features an impressive cast consisting of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransome, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgard, and Bill Hader.
Gary Dauberman is the only returning writer from the last film, and he ultimately has written a screenplay that is a solid companion to its predecessor. However, IT Chapter Two is riddled with plot inconsistencies and repetitive sequences that can grow tiring. For example, the Losers spend most of the second act walking around Derry getting caught up in the shenanigans of Pennywise. Audiences will sit through Bill, Beverly, Mike, Ben, Eddie, and Richie each spending time somewhere in Derry with flashbacks from the summer of 1989 filling in missing pieces. There are also several more instances that will cause laughter this time around, but some of the jokes are present at the wrong time during the film’s final moments.
Regardless of that, there are several flashbacks to the young losers to bring in that adolescent charm of the original, but this only emphasizes that the adult cast doesn’t have the same appeal a group of young teenagers has. The development of the adult Losers relies heavily on their child persona, which isn’t entirely bad but outside of that, the adult Losers offer nothing new to their characters. However, the lack of development may have been purposely done to illustrate how they can’t grow up entirely until they conquer their fears. As for the finale, describing it as predictable would be ridiculous because if you are familiar with the novel then the film’s ending should be somewhat predictable. With that being said, after a series of repetitive sequences, IT Chapter Two offers a heartwarming conclusion that may cause a few tears.
The performances from the adult Losers are well done and the chemistry between them is still present just like it was with the younger cast. Skarsgard once again gives a menacing, gruesome, and unhinged performance as Pennywise. McAvoy, Chastain, Ryan, Mustafa, and everyone else all do an amazing job portraying the adult Losers. Hader is definitely a standout, as he steals every scene he is present in for the most part, but nowhere near oscar worthy as most will claim. His comedic banter never gets old it is just placed in the wrong spots on multiple occasions.
Visually the film is beautiful but also a downgrade from its predecessor, while the cinematography from Checco Varese is fine, especially during the high stakes finale, it is a shame Chung Chung-hoon did not return. The CGI is in full effect here, and most of it looks acceptable at best. Some shots of Pennywise’s gaping mouth just look ridiculous though, this was an issue in the last film and it’s doubled here. Other shots of Pennywise’s final form are quite impressive though. Benjamin Wallfisch returns to once again provide a charming, yet terrifying score that beautifully accompanies each frame.
Muschietti directs the film amazingly for the most part, but the pacing is a bit all over the place in some spots. For instance, during the house of mirrors sequence, Pennywise spends far too much time banging his head on a mirror while Bill (McAvoy) counters him with an annoying round of kicks to the opposite mirror, all while a child looks on in fear. Muschietti does a great job of building tension in the repetitive sequences of the Losers walking around Derry, and the transitions between the flashbacks are well done.
While IT Chapter Two isn’t as good as its predecessor, it is a worthy companion that just has a few mishaps here and there with mostly the writing and technical aspects. These mishaps can’t outshine the performances from the cast, the emotional investment, an impressive final act, and an overall satisfying wrap up to one of the best coming of age tales.