IT: Chapter 2

IT: Chapter Two
I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King movies, even some of those that were not particularly good or well received. For someone who is a fan you think that would inspire me to pick up at least one of his books to get a feel for what the author truly intended over the stripped down,

“Hollywood-ised” versions. I can’t put my finger on why I haven’t, it’s not because the size of many of his novels are daunting, it’s more that as a reader I’m just not a horror book fan. So when it comes to sitting in on a Stephen king movie I have to rely on the story by it’s modified merits then to compare and contrast what IT does well (or not).
Like many before me, my first movie experience of IT was the classic mini-series featuring an incredibly creepy (and non-CGI’d version) of Pennywise portrayed by the extremely talented Tim Curry.

I even went out and purchased the mini-series before I went to see the first chapter of the remake of IT, just to see how those two compared. IT: Chapter One introduced us in great depth to the teens of the original losers club. A group of misfits, who went on their own personal crusade to attack and kill the nefarious clown while saving one of their own. A strong pact was formed and an oath sworn that if IT ever returned to Derry that the group would once again join together to put a stop to IT for good.

IT: Chapter Two picks up 27 years later, the group has moved on with their lives, all except Mike (Isaiah Mustafa as an adult and Chosen Jacobs as a younger version) who has felt a sense of responsibility to watch over the town and research how to kill IT if IT were to ever return. A horrific killing of an adult at the fair and subsequent disappearances of children alert Mike that the plague that has befallen Derry for generations has returned to feed. Mike reaches out to each of the losers reminding them that something they have all feared has come to pass.

Each when notified experience a fear that is indescribable yet for some reason the groups memories of the past have become clouded.

The now adult losers (with several flashbacks featuring the original cast) come together to remind themselves of the past, and the pact they made to protect the future. Featuring a star studded cast, Mike, Bill (James McAvoy/Jaeden Martell), Beverly (Jessica Chastain/Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jay Ryan/Jeremy Ray Taylor), Richie (Bill Hader/Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (James Ransone/Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stanley (Andy Bean/Wyatt Oleff), must battle their lost memories, their fears and the very real danger if they are to save Derry and themselves.

IT: Chapter 2 continues the incredible character building that Chapter 1 began. Where each of the young actors were perfectly cast as their book counterparts, their adult versions could easily be mistaken for the grown-up versions. This is the area where IT shines the most, the story of the losers who have grown and moved away, yet still share the unescapable bond of friendship. While an older Bill struggles (much like Stephen King himself) to come up with good endings to his stories it’s what he writes at the end of IT: Chapter 2 that really sums up the movie as a whole. To summarize, there are no good friends or bad friends, there are only friends, and chapter 2 is an example of how you take a band of misfits and turn them into heroes.
Sadly, for all the things IT does from a character side, it tends to drag on and over CGI its monster side. Pennywise the clown (portrayed brilliantly by Bill Skarsgård) brings with him all the creepiness and fear that the movie needs, even posters of his maniacal self is promoting lawsuits in other countries due to his ability to scare small children. So, it seems a bit disheartening that the studio felt it was necessary to go overboard with their CGI budgets. Many scenes go from being creepy and scary to simply being silly when our favorite clown is turned into a giant naked hag like figure. This is where I felt the mini-series did a far better job, due to its limited budget and shorter time requirements it allowed for the viewers to imagine the evil and not see it thrown out for the world to see.

IT: Chapter 2 also drags out far longer than it needed to. Make sure you get your bathroom breaks in, because the film, not counting previews, is just about 10 minutes shy of being three hours. I’m normally not one to complain about the length of a movie, as I’d rather they tell the story they want instead of trying to compress it into a shorter run time. However, in this case, it seemed entirely wasted on an overabundance of clown mutations and an extremely drawn out final battle. It’s unfortunate, because one of the most unused (and potentially interesting characters) Henry Bowers (Teach Grant/Nicholas Hamilton) is given only a few minutes of screen time and ultimately adds nothing to the movie as a whole. As I stated earlier, I haven’t read the novel, but I have to assume that he played a far bigger role in the book.

As it stands in the movie, his character is both unnecessary and completely ineffective at whatever he was attempting to do. I think some of the time taken away from the battle scenes to flesh out his (or other supporting characters) would have be time better spent.

IT: Chapter 2 is a good movie, that with some reduced special effects and better time management is just shy of being a great movie. The story of the kids, now grown up, is one of forgiveness, bravery and love. It shows how true friendship can overcome distance and time and that those things never truly vanish, even if the particulars of what separated you in the first place is a bit fuzzy. Horror movies with outrageous budgets tend to lose the spirit of what makes a true horror movie scary…it’s rarely about the effects, and more about the imagination.

That’s what makes the books typically so much better than the movies, after all, each one of us imagines our own version of what truly scares us (although clowns tend to be scary regardless of how they are portrayed). IT: Chapter 2 provides a satisfying ending to a story that began a few years ago, it suffers a bit from its budget and its use of CGI effects, but it’s still a story of what all of us losers can accomplish if we band together.

4 out of 5 stars