It’s safe to say, It Chapter Two is one of the most anticipated films of the year following the killer first film that stunned and terrified audiences. I had high standards for this film, as well at the first, given the fact It is my favorite book (which I red at far too young of an age I might add). For most, myself included, the adult portions of the novel are far inferior to the kid portions, and many feared this would be the same for the film. While I can safely say I do not like Chapter Two as much as the first film, it is still a wild, hilarious and fear inducing ride that did not feel as long as the 2 hour and 50 minute runtime suggests.
Let’s get the not-elephant (that joke will become funny once you see the movie) out of the way first. The actors chosen to play the adults are incredible. Bev (Jessica Chastain), Bill (James McAvoy), Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Eddie (James Ransone), Stanley (Andy Bean), Ben (Jay Ryan) and Richie (Bill Hader) all portray these characters perfectly. They look like the kids (yes, even Ben, who is probably one of the most handsome men ever), they sound like the kids (McAvoy especially tackles Bill’s accent) and act like the kids (Ransone especially hitting Eddie’s neuroticisms).
Each actor brings something to the table, though, much like Part One, Stanley is given less to do (though this isn’t surprising for readers of the book). Many will look to Chastain and McAvoy to lead the charge, as they are the more well-known and accomplished actors, but it is Hader and Ransone who lead the show here, playing off each other as though Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer aged 27 years. While comedy is always subjective (especially in horror), their back and forth is outstanding, with jokes landing far more often than not. However, and most importantly, it feels as if these characters had known each other for nearly 30 years, reconnecting and sharing memories like only old friends can. This all comes to a head at the Chinese Restaurant scene that is just as funny and touching as it is terrifying.
Speaking of terrifying, let’s talk about Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. He is everything he was in the first film cranked up to 11, and far more vengeful. Pennywise is pissed, and Skarsgård plays it with so much gleeful menace, it’s sure to terrify audiences for years to come. His smile and the way he can naturally make his eyes drift to different directions (it isn’t CGI, folks) are the things nightmares are made of.
The scares, however, are what make It Chapter Two work. Scenes from the novel, such as the Chinese Restaurant, Paul Bunyan and the Adrian Mellon scene are absolutely horrifying, the latter of which isn’t even because of Pennywise. The Mrs. Kersh scene, while shown in the trailer, still drips with so much tension, it’s hard to not still be freaked out by it. Lastly, the carnival scene, which some people complained was ruined in the trailer, gets so much worse. There are some lame scares, which is to be expected. You have to take the good with the bad and there is so much more good here to be enjoyed.
Before you freak out, yes, the kids are back, and as amazing as ever. They pick up right where they left off, talking about being 13 and Pennywise as though no time had passed at all. While some may wish they are in the film longer (it’s essentially glorified cameos), every second we see: Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Grazer and Wolfhard is a delight, though the de-aging CGI is definitely noticeable at parts, particularly with the latter two.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate about one thing — the near three hour runtime did not bother my viewing experience. However, it became evident during both my viewings that the audience was negatively affected by the length. A film this long should be seamless and without downtime, which is quite prevalent here at points. A lot of time is spent talking (especially with narration) and there are far too many stares off into the distance. I didn’t mind the runtime because of the 1200-page source material, but, again, I sensed a lot of restlessness. The beginning scenes where the adult losers are reintroduced are a little wobbly, giving too much time to some while cutting off the others. Pacing in the first 30 minutes was janky, but definitely gets better as they arrived back in Derry.
I thoroughly enjoyed It Chapter Two. It’s everything the novel and first film were; terrifying, violent, touching, funny and strange, something we don’t see from large book adaptations often. The acting is superb, the direction, music, design and visuals all work and, most importantly, it will scare you. There are also some great nods to other King works, in jokes only fans of King will get and two awesome cameos that fans of King and the It Mini-Series will get a kick out of. Much like King, I’m not the best with endings, so I’ll wrap this up by saying…go see it.
It Chapter Two is currently playing in theaters nationwide.