REVIEW: ‘It’ 2 lags behind first installment, but still worth a watch

The 1990 “It” mini-series adaptation took place over two nights and followed a group of characters in their youth, and as adults. The latest adaptation, spread over 2017 and 2019, takes a similar approach.

In both cases, the stories following the characters as kids was more compelling.

At the end of the 2017 movie, a group of friends in a small Maine town known as the Losers Club defeated the paranormal entity simply called “It” and made a promise to return to the northeast if the monster re-appeared. Well sure enough, 27 years later, It, taking the form of a clown, comes back to wreak havoc.

In response, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one who stayed in Maine, calls the Losers back from across the country to once again defeat It (Bill Skarsgard). Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader) and Ben (Jay Ryan) all return to meet with Mike, but have trouble remembering the events of the first movie. However, that begins to change when they start seeing the evil clown around town.

As the name implies, this film is very much part of a larger story. However, it still manages to stand on its own for the most part, mostly thanks to strong first and third acts. For example, Director Andy Muschietti and his crew did solid work in re-introducing the lead characters and setting up the new conflict between the evil entity and the film’s heroes.

Where “It: Chapter Two” struggles is in an over-long second act. The picture is nearly three hours long and the middle portion is very bloated. The main characters go on their own journeys for a while and over the course of time there are also some flashbacks mixed in, which feel unnecessary since we had a whole movie with these people in their youth already.

It’s not to say some of these sequences should’ve been removed in their entirety, but some trimming could have been beneficial. The movie’s story does eventually tie back together for a finale that’s for the most part satisfying, though.

However, It’s also noticeable that the nearly three hour film isn’t backed up by a fantastic script. The moments of humor as well as sequences building dread work somewhat, but not as much as one would like.

IT 2_Day 22_07312018_07321.dng
Courtesy New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.

Fortunately, the movie is helped by a strong cast. Bill Skarsgard returns with a bizarre, odd performance that does work for the character he’s playing. A solid cast, including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader, really help round out the acting with some good performances.

As for the horror elements, “Chapter Two” is somewhat hit and miss. There are some really solid visual sequences, such as a shot under a bridge where thousands of blood red balloons are overflowing into a river, signalling the evil entity’s arrival.

At the same time, though, other parts of the picture featured some really unconvincing CGI. There were moments where monstrous creatures were featured, but they were computer generated rather than just made from practical effects and it was very noticeable. This, unfortunately, also happened during the movie’s climax, where Pennywise looks almost laughable.

Overall, “It Chapter Two” is the lesser half to a complete story when compared to its predecessor. Yet at the same time, the sequel does have some merit. The cast is strong and while not as good as their younger counterparts, there’s still a convincing chemistry among them. Plus, there are horror elements that work enough to at least keep an audience in suspense.

While the movie’s middle could very well have been trimmed and tightened, the film has enough good moments throughout to make it worth a watch. Although, this one might be better watched at home, though, when it can be viewed as a companion piece to the first. 3.0 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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