Film Review - It

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, from left, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, James Ransone, Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “It: Chapter 2.”

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, where those lovable self-proclaimed losers who stole our hearts in the 2017 remake of “It” seek to do so again, this time as adults. The evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years after the losers’ first encounter with him in 1989.

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

Pennywise coaxes each of them back to Derry hoping to exact his revenge on the group who nearly killed him in 1989.

The younger versions 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 in new scenes.

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

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 gripe I had with “It: Chapter Two.”

I walked out of the theater with three major issues with the film, but the biggest problem is “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. That highpoint was 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. Through the entire two hours and forty minutes of “It: Chapter Two” the film never really finds its own footing and never quite feels like its own film.

Sequels or even extensions should always feel like they are also their own film.

This is the model “It: Chapter Two” should have followed, but there is not enough of its own plot points, character developments, and storylines to make it feel like its own film. Quite simply, this film is just an extension of “It” and nothing more.

It’s 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 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. He is again played by Bill Skarsgård, who again delivers a masterful performance.

He just is not in the film 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 every one 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.

The most obvious comparison is that “It: Chapter Two” is like one of the film’s own characters, Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier. Trashmouth is the best character in the first film and the sequel. Bill Hader and Finn Wolfhard’s performances are exceptional.

The character of Trashmouth 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. If you make an audience sit there that long, then you need to cross the finish line.

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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