Thursday, September 12, 2019

Movie Review: "It Chapter Two" (2019)

Director: Andy Muschietti
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 49 minutes

27 years have passed since the Losers' Club faced off against 'It.' Since then, all the Losers (except Michael) have left Derry and have moved on with their lives. When Pennywise the clown returns to Derry, Michael calls upon his former friends to fulfill the promise they made so many years ago to return to their hometown and defeat It once and for all.

Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Richie (Bill Hader), Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), and Ben (Jay Ryan) stand in the middle of an empty street in Derry, Maine in a movie still for "It Chapter Two" (2019)
"We made an oath. That's why I brought you back, to finish it." (Image Source)
Andy Muschietti returns to the director's chair for "It Chapter Two," a film we have very much been looking forward to since we saw the original. The screenplay is once again written by Gary Dauberman, which is based on the second half of Stephen King's 1000+ page novel "It." 27 years have passed since the Losers' Club faced off against Pennywise the clown (Bill Skårsgard). Since then, the majority of the kids, including Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Bill (James McAvoy), Eddie (James Ransone), Richie (Bill Hader), and Ben (Jay Ryan), have left Derry and have moved on with their lives, everyone except Mike (Isaiah Mustafa). Most of the members of the Losers' Club have forgotten about Derry and the events the summer 'It' brought them together and tore them apart. They have also reverted back to their old bad habits. Mike, however, remembers everything down to the last trauma. He has spent the two-and-a-half decades preparing for Its return, trying to find a way that they can kill It for good. When Pennywise makes a resurgence and starts killing again, Michael calls upon the rest of the Losers to fulfill their promise to fight Pennywise if he ever returned.
It Chapter Two 2019 movie still where James McAvoy's Bill Denbrough stops a child named Dean (Luke Roessler) in the middle of the street to warn him that Pennywise is after him
"Everybody wants a happy ending." (Image Source)
A couple of years back, Andy Muschietti proved with his version of Stephen King's "It" that remakes aren't always a bad thing, that they can sometimes be an improvement over the original. Of course, "Chapter One" was adapted from the more compelling part of the source material, which left him with the difficult task of making the adult version of the Losers' Club and their return to Derry just as engaging. For the most part, we think he and Dauberman were successful in their attempt to breathe life into this portion of the story. It's got its flaws, but it also has some splendid, creepy, genuinely unsettling visuals (we'll never look at a fortune cookie the same way again), some terrific drama, and a lot of deflection-with-humor, too. It also has a host of solid performances from the likes of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader (the biggest standout for us, but also unsurprising since he is a genius). But of course, we cannot forget the star of the show. Bill Skårsgard is as amazing as ever as Pennywise the (horrible, awful, terrible, disgusting, evil) clown, whose mere presence is enough to make people who hate clowns piss themselves in terror when his claws and fangs come out. Skårsgard finds the perfect balance between sinister and playful and has really made the character his own, stepping out of the shadow once cast by the iconic Tim Curry.

As was the case in "Chapter One," killer clowns, nightmares, and supernatural creatures aren't the only horrifying things found in Derry. Many of King's writings revolve around the dread and horror that comes from the terrifying behavior displayed by the human characters in his stories, from hateful bigots to abusive husbands and psychopathic bullies. After leaving Derry, each member of the Losers' Club reverts back to their old ways, trying to cope with day-to-day life by stuffing the memories of the past down inside them. Once they return, those deeply buried childhood traumas bubble to the surface to prove that they have not done away with them. They each have to find their "token" to begin to move on from the pain they endured as kids even before the creepy clown showed up on Derry's doorstep (or in this case, in its sewer system). Because there are several separate solo journeys midway through the film, the tightknit "Goonies" vibe is all but erased in "Chapter Two," but it didn't hinder our enjoyment of the final product. It also loses the whimsy of the 80s nostalgia included in the first chapter, but hey, we're not complaining about that. Beyond the terror, this installment continues the trend of mixing horror with humor and sets a similar tone to that of the first film. Some viewers might not like this aspect, but we thought it worked out well considering we, ourselves, deflect with humor. Some potential viewers may also take umbrage with the film's length and be scared off by that (rather large number) alone, but we thought it moved well all things considered. The first two hours flew by, and we know we've seen shorter films that felt much longer than this one does.
Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård) searches for his latest victim in the town of Derry in a movie still for the 2019 horror film sequel "It Chapter Two"
"Let's kill this fucking clown." (Image Source)
We were satisfied with "It Chapter Two," and we had a swell time watching these characters wrap up their collective and separate journeys. It's got enough drama, horror, and comedy to satisfy most moviegoers, though we can't say how close it sticks to the book. There are worse ways to spend almost three hours of your time.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
RT Rating: 63%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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