REVIEW: It - Chapter 2
Some spoilers ahead.
It: Chapter 2 outshines its predecessor in every respect. The cinematography is more inventive with awkward angles and bold color choices, the characters generally feel more complex and well-shaped, the horror aspects are off the charts ranging from eerie creepiness, to straight up body horror homages, to comical whimsy, and it has so much more to say.
27 years after the events of It (chapter 1?) Pennywise is back to his old child murdering game. As per a tween blood pact made in the first film, the traumatized members of “the losers club” reunite in the sleepy town of Derry to put an end to this supernatural terror. Along the way our band of friends is confronted with their pasts, their presents, and some grotesque monster stuff.
I’ve never seen a film where actors are pulling so much from the performances of their child counterparts. It’s a unique challenge that every member of the cast nails, especially James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, and Bill Hader. That being said, “the losers club” is less of a club this go around and more of an unlikely troop of combatants re-thrown into the fray.
Nobody really wants to be monster hunting with half-remembered friends from middle school and often they try to flee the battlefield out of pure terror. It’s only after confronting manifestations of their childhood trauma that the group can reunite. This premise makes for an odd bit of structure where we get 6 vignettes of each adult directly addressing their pasts before coming together again.
I’ve seen a lot of critics note this choice when talking about their dislike of the movie but I think it works in the films favor. Adults are often closed when it comes to the scars of their youth. Splitting everyone up seems more like authentic character development to me rather than poor structuring.
The profound beauty of It: Chapter 2 is the theming. It’s a story that recognizes regardless of age we are all a bunch of scared teens looking for acceptance and identity. It’s a movie that shows the trauma we experience as kids can be vicious and effect every aspect of our lives into adulthood. But it also concedes that this viciousness can be overcome. It makes a point that friendship, real, unfettered, glorious friendship, will push you forward, and that you can have these sort of friendships as an adult.
There are many things I would change about It: Chapter 2 if I had the option.
The movie has the subtlety of a Boeing 747 that often works against its messaging, the ending is a 35oz bucket of Utz Cheese Balls, which I like okay, but know will be too much for most, and the plot is full of unanswered questions/inconsistent pacing, especially when we get closer to the 3rd act.
The Native American scenes were confusing at best. They don’t add anything, they feel woefully dated, and it would have been better to not include them at all.
Mike, played by Isaiah Mustafa, is less of a character in this iteration and more of a plot device. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of his scenes were cut for time as the movie is a WHOPPING 2 hours and 50 minutes but it’s still sad.
Finally, as a chubby man, I selfishly wish the overweight kid Ben became a fat adult but still got the girl because he’s kind, charming, and a good dude. Like I said before Jay Ryan did a great job, but still. Something about the idea of this guy being unable to find love until he's an attractive millionaire rubs me the wrong way. Shout out to all my chubby dudes.
Final thoughts? It: Chapter 2 is a flawed film, a solid sequel, wildly entertaining, and more than the sum of its parts.
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