I’m a bit late on the draw with this one, but It: Chapter Two continues the story from It: Chapter One as logic and the linear progression of time would dictate. Now, 27 years later, It has returned and is once again preying on the children of Derry and so, the now grown-up Losers Club are reassembled like some sort of middle-aged low-rent Avengers to finally put the clown down for good.
Ehhhhhh… it’s not that great.
I would even go so far as to say that It: Chapter Two is bad. Worse than bad… it’s boring and, if there is anything that a horror movie shouldn’t be, it’s boring. Especially if it is the follow-up to a movie that was as disturbing and scary as the first It.
I really shouldn’t be that surprised, after all. In the 1990 miniseries, the adult chapter was the weaker of the two as well. In the book, the adult bits are weaker than the kid bits. Why is that? It’s not the casting because, to be honest, the casting in It: Chapter Two couldn’t be more perfect. This ensemble really not only captured the grown up look of the kid cast, but also adopted their mannerisms in some very clever ways. I completely bought that they were the grown up versions of Bill, Eddie, Mike, Bev, and the others.
The writing and story is definitely more out there than the first movie and that’s saying something since the first movie was about an inter-dimensional shape-shifting clown that eats children. This one throws rituals, millions of years of backstory, and the kitchen sink right into your face and, honestly, it’s a bit too much. The movie seems to cram as much mythology into its run-time as possible and, thus, burns through much of it in rushed and scattershot ways. The book is over a thousand pages long… something should have been cut from the movie for the sake of the movie itself.
It doesn’t help that, while the first movie had the warm, calming blanket of nostalgia, the new movie has bupkiss.
Ultimately, though, of all the things that went right with the first movie, I would have to say that the most effective was that it was a movie that isolated kids, the most vulnerable people on the planet, and put them alone against something ancient and evil. To me, that was the most scary thing – It wasn’t a Goonies type fun adventure, it was chilling, it was dangerous, it was terrifying, and it was populated by children who were scared, screaming, and lost.
With the adult chapter, all of that is lost. While, yes, there is danger and they are alone, now it feels muffled and not as intense. This is hindered further by some very out-of-place one-liners and jokes uttered by Richie and other characters, sometimes as Pennywise or his minions, are running right for them. They don’t just break the tension, they destroy it.
Speaking of destroying tension, it’s too bad that the director and the special effects crew completely forgot about subtlety. Every effect is computer generated and terrible, turning Pennywise into cheap tricks and silly-looking monsters.
Folks, I can only think of one scene in It: Chapter Two where Pennywise was actually scary and that’s when he was luring the little girl under the bleachers with a firefly. That’s it. The rest of the time, he was a CGI clusterfudge that was borderline embarrassing. They actually do the spider thing again.
The adult chapter just doesn’t work solo. While I hate to be a stuck-up book nerd about it, It – as a whole – would have worked better as a stand alone movie that straddled the two eras, cutting back and forth as the book does. Sure, a lot of material could have been cut, but considering how much of It: Chapter Two already felt superfluous, that wouldn’t have been much of a sacrifice. That grown up Henry Bowers that went absolutely nowhere? Gone. Problem solved.
The two storylines could have complimented each other instead of one feeling like it was repeating the other. Imagine how more touching the scene with child Bev reading the poem would have been intercut with her retrieving it from her old house as an adult.
This could have been a horror-based Cloud Atlas but, instead, it’s a great horror movie and its bad sequel.
Talk about the letdown of the decade.