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IT: CHAPTER TWO
2019 / Horror
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7.5 / 10
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Directed by Andy Muschietti
Written by Gary Dauberman
Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Bill Skarsgård

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.

The following tags are associated with this movie: Clown, Monster, Stephen King, Remake
It: Chapter Two (2019)
Review by Bradley Frohloff

8 / 10
The original mini-series is widely considered as having an enjoyable first half and a mediocre second half. Unfortunately, Chapter Two of this re-imagining suffers a somewhat similar issue. While I wouldn't say that it falls off the rails as much as the original mini-series did, I think it does to a degree. Chapter Two kicks off with a pretty good opening sequence and it doesn't take all that long to get some Pennywise action, but as the movie progressed, my enjoyment would gradually, slowly wane.

One of my favourite scenes from the original mini-series is the suicide scene, with "IT" written on the wall in blood as the wife lets go a rather hair-raising, blood-curdling scream. Unfortunately, the suicide scene in this one doesn't have nearly the same impact in my opinion, at least not in the moment of itself. In fact, as hard as this is to say, I don't feel this second chapter has anywhere near as many memorable moments as the first film. This second chapter does feel a little messier at times, with many things happening all over the place.

The casting is rather fantastic. Mostly everyone looks like fairly accurate representations of their younger counterparts. Bill Hader seems to be the clear standout in the movie and I'd love to say it's solely because if his own performance but when I consider that Finn Wolfhard was also the standout in the first movie, it seems the character of Richie is just that likeable and has a leg-up on the rest. He provides the laughs and his moments of misery and sadness hit harder than the others because I guess we're so accustomed to his fun-loving nature.

I really enjoyed the musical score in the first chapter by Benjamin Wallfisch and he also returns to provide the music for Chapter Two. While we're still treated to much of the same, it feels like the more delicate and special musical moments are shortened, recycled and used much less in exchange for more generic ominous tones. I guess a simpler way of describing the music is that it's mostly the same, but I didn't feel it had as much of an impact on the scenes in this movie as it did in the first.

Unfortunately, the deeper the movie gets, the more intense the CGI becomes. I wasn't necessarily surprised by it as I was expecting more dependency on it with Pennywise showing more of what it truly is underneath the clown, but it had much more artificial assistance than I would have preferred, even for a movie of its magnitude. On that same note, I wish Pennywise would stick more to just the human/clown form rather than a mash of the fairly indistinguishable monstrosities that it takes the form of which contain little to no charismatic value.

Chapter Two isn't a dumpster fire, it's still a decent movie, as you should be able to deduce from my rating. However, it is worth noting that I gave the first movie a perfect 10/10, so it is disappointing because even though I wasn't expecting this to be as good, I was hoping for something close... and it didn't end up being close at all. The first chapter is better, and I say that with complete conviction.
It: Chapter Two (2019)
Review by Michael Mahoney

7 / 10
Being an almost three-hour movie, and with a lot of additions new compared to both the source novel and 1990 mini-series, there's a lot in It Chapter Two to try and digest even now.

I think the best parts of the movie is during the flashbacks to when they were kids, especially the clubhouse scene. It's just nice seeing the young cast coming back and giving more solid performances. Related, I appreciated how they led to these flashbacks, pointing out that the first movie didn't cover everything the Losers went through, and revealing new information to the audience via these new flashbacks, which was fun.

That leads into a journey to collect tokens (not too different from the Walking Tours in the book, mostly), which was okay. I didn't love it, nor understand the importance of some of the tokens, but it made sense in the context of preparing for some Native American ritual in order to defeat Pennywise (which itself is something a bit new and somewhat unnecessary in my view).

As far as performances go here, the clear standout is Bill Hader as Richie. He gives a fantastic performance throughout, often bring levity to dark situations, as he did as a kid. A great scene was his joke in the clubhouse, which was entirely tasteless and entirely Richie. Also, toward the end, he has a breakdown of sorts, and the emotions coming from him are almost overwhelming in their sincerity. Just utterly fantastic.

Related, I thought that Eddie's actor, James Ransone (most well-known for Sinister), was also pretty spectacular. He really did feel like a grown-up Jack Dylan Grazer, and his character was a lot of fun, especially his conversational reportare with Hader. The third best adult performance was probably Mike's Isaiah Mustafa, who gave a solid, somewhat manic at times, performance, and didn't really feel too far removed from Tim Reid's in 1990. Andy Bean as an adult Stanley Uris was great too, though I wish he appeared more.

As for Jay Ryan, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy, there were decent, but weren't really that amazing. I did like McAvoy's performance at times, especially regarding the Georgie surrogate, and he really comes across as unhinged at times (understandably so, if truth be told), but he didn't blow me away, nor did Ryan or Chastain. For the life of me, I couldn't see Ryan as an adult Jeremy Ray Taylor, which hurt his character a bit for me, and Chastain, while appearing reasonably similar to her childhood version of Lillis, just didn't bring enough to wow me.

Seeing Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff (who played one of my favorite characters in the first chapter) again was great. I wish we had more flashbacks of the times they spent together that were missed from the first film, but what we got worked out just fine.

Some scenes I like include, but at not limited to, the opening sequence (which was in the books, and I was nice to finally see that put onto film), Pennywise's encounter with a little girl during a football game, young Ben's encounter with Beverly at summer school, and finally seeing Paul Bunyan attack Richie (as he did in the book, but wasn't included in the 1990 mini-series). Admittedly, Pennywise's singing in that last scene took me aback, but it made sense in context.

Also, kudos to Stephen King's appearance in the film, along with the snatch of Bill's writing we saw toward the end of the film, which was almost taken word-for-word from the original novel, page 769 in my paperback copy. Just a small thing, but that paragraph was almost one of my favorite's from the novel, so it was nice to see the nod to it. And King's joke about how his stories end? Fun times.

So what doesn't work? Well, they add something new to Richie's character that I don't think was necessary, though I don't hate it as I suspect some viewers will. The heavy use of CGI was a bit daunting at times, especially toward Beverly's encounter with It as an adult and the whole of the finale. The vision cave sequence didn't do a lot for me, and the final recitation of Ben's haiku just felt so Hollywood.

Another thing – Henry Bowers coming back didn't really change anything about the events of the movie – sure, both Eddie and Mike got hurt, but unlike the book and the 1990 version, Mike is still able to accompany them down into the sewers, so what did Bowers accomplish? Lastly, the way that they defeat Pennywise in the end just felt ridiculous to me, and if I could have one thing in this movie changed, it would be that, because it definitely was done better in the book and, dare I say, the 1990 mini-series.

A few scenes felt something out there, such as Eddie's encounter in the basement of the pharmacy, or portions of the final encounter (the final form was okay, in a CGI-riddled way, but the 1990 version did a better job following the source novel), but over time, I'm guessing that these scenes will do more for me.

There are a few things I wish the movie had added from the book, including the downfall of Derry during an epic storm as the group confronts Pennywise. In the book, that was such a great sequence, seeing outside characters who we've heard and seen throughout the book dying, or nearly escaping death, and seeing just how screwed up Derry is like to be following Pennywise's demise.

Also, writing out the important parts that Audra and Tom play in the book is an interesting choice. Obviously, Tom wasn't any more important in the 1990 version than he was here, but Audra was reduced too, which I'm personally okay with (her love story with Bill in the novel is perhaps the least engaging parts of the book for me, though she does has a really creepy interaction with Pennywise). That said, leaving these two out but bringing in Henry Bowers just felt off to me, especially since, as aforementioned, Bowers didn't really accomplish anything.

Like I said at the beginning, there's a lot to digest in this movie, especially as a fan of the source novel and the 1990 mini-series, not to mention the first chapter. As it stands, I can say that the first chapter probably felt more ordered, because at times, Chapter Two can come across as a bit messy (perhaps by design). Having Pennywise go after the Losers in somewhat psychological ways (which was played up more here than in the novel) brought a little something new, as did other factors, that I'm not exactly sure yet how I feel about.

My theater performance was pretty stellar, though, so that's good.

I can't say many things for certain right now, but I can say that I think the first movie was better. I'll need to see this a few more times before I come to a final conclusion, but as it stands now, divorcing myself from the rare experience of seeing a movie in theaters, I'll give this one an average rating.
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