Film Review - It

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "It: Chapter 2." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

The losers are back.

The breakout hit of 2017, “It,” finally gets its sequel, “It: Chapter Two.”

“It: Chapter Two” comes with some very large expectations both from the studio (expecting $200 million opening weekend) and the fans (who want a good film).

The more important aspect is the need for “It: Chapter Two” to be a good sequel to “It” and to generally be a good film, especially after such a dismal summer slate at the theater.

“Chapter Two” brings us back to the fictional town of Derry, Maine.

In “It: Chapter Two” those lovable self proclaimed losers who stole our hearts in the 2017 remake of “It” seek to do so again, this time as adults.

Where the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years after the losers first encounter with Pennywise in 1989.

The grown-up members of the Losers' Club, who have long since drifted from one another, are called back to Derry by one of their own when the signs again point to Pennywise.

Pennywise coaxes each losers member back to Derry in the hopes to exact his revenge on the group who nearly killed him in 1989.

The younger version of the losers club were played by Jaeden Martell (Bill Denbrough), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom),Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), and Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris).

The actors playing the adult version of the group are Jessica Chastain (Beverly Marsh), James McAvoy (Bill Denbrough), Bill Hader (Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike Hanlon), Jay Ryan (Ben Hanscom), James Ransone (Eddie Kaspbrak), and Andy Bean (Stanley Uris).

“It: Chapter Two” may concentrate on the adult group but the younger versions of themselves are still in “It: Chapter Two” in new scenes.

The adult versions are life-worn versions of their younger selves.

One of the effects of being away from Derry is forgetting what happened in the town of Derry.

This “not knowing” allows the viewer to know things the characters do not and allows the viewer to connect with the characters all over again as the viewer follows them on their journeys of rediscovery themselves.

The adult viewers especially as adults often wax nostalgic about their childhoods.

In 2019 when everything is being revisited, rebooted, or remade, the two chapters of “It” would have been better served being much farther apart.

Allowing the audience to age as the losers themselves aged could have brought a bigger connection to the characters, then again you would not have “It: Chapter Two” two years after the first either.

However, that sentiment leads to the largest grip I had with “It: Chapter Two.”

I walked out of the theater with three major issues with “It: Chapter Two” but the biggest problem I have with “It: Chapter Two” is, nostalgia.

“It: Chapter Two” is way too nostalgic to its predecessor.

Yes, it is understood that these are adults relearning their childhood and after life has kicked them around they are longing for the highpoints of their childhood.

Their highpoint is their friendship that came at a price and the longing to come back to that friendship also comes at a price, Pennywise.

Therefore, some nostalgia is necessary but in “It: Chapter Two” there is way too much.

“It: Chapter Two” is nostalgic to “It” and the younger versions of themselves that through the entire two hours and forty minutes of “It: Chapter Two” the film never really finds its own footing.

“It: Chapter Two” never quite feels like its own film.

The film is an extension of the 2017 “It” but sequels or even extensions should always feel like they are also their own film.

The “Lord of the Rings” for example, even though I am not the biggest fan each film is an extension of the other but they are also their own films with their own plot points, character developments, and storylines. All with one overarching storyline.

This is the model “It: Chapter Two” should have followed but there is not enough of its own plot points, character developments, and storylines in “It: Chapter Two” to make it feel like its own film.

Quite simply, “It: Chapter Two” is just an extension of “It” and nothing more.

As an extension of 2017’s”It,” “It: Chapter Two” is just fine.

“It: Chapter Two” is far too long, the two hours and forty minutes is a struggle at points and for a film that just extends and finishes a story that is not something the audience wants to do, struggle through the film.

The longevity is also made apparent because “It: Chapter Two” is just not scary. “It: Chapter Two” tries to be and has some very good moments but it never really materialized the way it should have.

The reason is not enough Pennywise. He is of course, Pennywise the dancing clown and he steals the show.

Pennywise is again played by Bill Skarsgård and “It: Chapter Two” he again delivers a masterful performance.

He just is not in “It: Chapter Two” enough.

Pennywise is at his best talking and manipulating, the character is at his most intriguing at those moments, not as a giant spider-wise.

In “It: Chapter Two” there is not enough of the aforementioned moments and far too many of the latter.

Pennywise’s best moments, and this goes for both films, come with this interaction with the losers.

In the 2017’ version of “It” the characters were the best part of the film they each had their own personality or character but even beyond that each had their own personality or character when interacting with Pennywise.

“It: Chapter Two” does have these moments and they are in fact great. The entire middle of the film has them as each loser has to find a personal totem.

Those are the best parts of the middle of the film but the middle drags around each and everyone of them.

Those moments that drag, are all scenes of nostalgia. This want or need to live up to the first film inevitably means “It: Chapter Two” can’t.

“It: Chapter Two” never comes into its own.

The most obvious comparison is that “It: Chapter Two” is like one of the films own characters, Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier.

Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier is the best character in both “It” and “It: Chapter Two” and both Bill Hader and Finn Wolfhard’s performances are exceptional.

The character of Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier never reaches its full potential though. Tozier is the character who can grow the most through both films and he does (somewhat) but there is so much left on the table.

“It: Chapter Two” introduces new aspects to the Tozier character that never fully get explored and that is a shame.

There is nothing more shameful in a film that is almost three hours than to leave unresolved character plot points.

It is a normal filmmaking tactic and one I can be behind in shorter films but if you make an audience sit there that long then you need to cross the finnish line.

Bill Hader gives a masterful performance as grown up Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier and there is unexplored depth there.

The character depth for other characters was explored, Bill and Beverly for example and then for Beverly and Ben.

James McAvoy and the depth of character for the Bill character that “It: Chapter Two” explored almost felt wasteful because McAvoy was not good in “It: Chapter Two.”

McAvoy was the casting decision I was most excited about when the cast was announced. McAvoy has had moments of greatness but “It: Chapter Two” is not one of them.

The performance he gives in “It: Chapter Two” comes on the heels of his performance in “Glass.”

In “Glass” he plays another stuttering character and in “It: Chapter Two” when Bill starts to stutter, McAvoy sounds too much like his “Glass” character. He adds nothing to it to make Bill feel different.

Why couldn’t more time be spent on the better character and better actor?

The director Andy Muschietti creates beautiful imagery and scenes in “It: Chapter Two,” my favorite was the Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier and Paul Bunyan and I realize Bill Denbrough is the “main” character but in my opinion the losers group should be and in a lot of ways is the main character.

Why not put your strongest foot forward and choosing not to was a mistake by Andy Muschietti.

The one hope is that even though “It: Chapter Two” is two hours and forty minutes, there is a 4 hour cut out there.

This four hour cut should be cut together with 2017’s “It” to make one complete “It” film, similar to the original Tim Curry version of “It.”

Hopefully this type of director’s cut could add everything that seems to be lacking in “It: Chapter Two” and “Chapter Two” will no longer feel like an extension of a whole but would rather be apart of the whole.

“It: Chapter Two” concludes the “It” saga and holds to the book as well as a film can, especially a 900 page book, but it falls short of its predecessor.

The 2017 version of “It’s” tagline was “You’ll float too,” and that film made me float and float high.

“It: Chapter Two’s” tagline is “You’ll float too again.” Now, “It: Chapter Two” made me float again but with one foot stuck on the ground.

Through all its shortcomings though a truly great tale comes through both films, even “It: Chapter Two”, as Pennywise says, “Come float! You'll laugh, you'll cry! You'll cheer, you'll die!.”

You won't die, but you certainly will do the rest (laugh,cry, and cheer) throughout the theater going experience that is “It: Chapter Two.”

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the graphics department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at guyerj@eagletimes.com

 

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