Overlong and uneven, It: Chapter Two still rises to the occasion thanks to amazing performances and as a satisfying conclusion to a captivating story.
27 years after the events in Derry, Bill, Beverly, Ben, Richie, Mike, Eddie and Stanley must go back home to deal with ‘It’ once more — even if it might put their own lives at risk.
In a year full of conventional blockbusters, ‘It’ is anything but: it’s adapted from an acclaimed novel from the 80’s and there’s no chance to continue it further after this, so the fact that it became such an event and a pop culture phenomenon speaks to the effect Stephen King has had in the horror genre as a whole. So, does this film live up to the phenomenon? More or less.
Andy Muschietti returns to direct the film, and once again proves to be one of the most promising working directors today, offering his hand in a plethora of beautiful and mesmerizing sequences that are sure to be remembered for a long time. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman also deserves a lot of credit for the surprisingly funny moments, with the Chinese restaurant sequence by far being the most memorable of the bunch and where both of their talents shine the most. And yet, a strange feeling you can’t shake off enters your mind about halfway through the film, and it’s that, unfortunately, despite a long time being apart, there’s really not enough story there to justify an almost 3-hour runtime, and yet, it still feels incredibly choppy at places. You can almost feel the editors struggling to rush the film to get the characters to Derry, and a lot of storylines feel incomplete, especially regarding Henry Bowers and a love triangle. In the end, it can’t help but feel like a sequence of scenes just happening for the sake of it with no clear ending in sight for a huge portion of it, reminding you that it’s the kids’ storyline that always worked best both in the book and the miniseries, and apparently here too.
By far, it’s Richie, played by Bill Hader, that is given the most interesting storyline and the most to play with, and it ends up with one of the best performances of the year by Hader. It’s beautifully crafted from the flashbacks to the his tragic but always funny present. James Ransone as Eddie is also another highlight and a potentially star-making turn. The same can’t be said about everyone though. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Jay Ryan lose their presence often in the film, and it’s one of those cases where, as I mentioned, you can feel their storylines were severely cut to serve the film but ultimately hurts the characters, with no chemistry at all between them and no time to flesh it put either. Their performances are good, but nothing to take note of. Isaiah Mustafa is also severely underwritten and, while likable, isn’t given enough relevance in the story.
It’s not without its great moments: Bill Skarsgard is still great as Pennywise, albeit a bit underutilized, and the ending and overall theme of the film adulthood and growing up is beautiful and has “Stephen King” written all over it, and it gives the film a nice conclusion and good feeling about the duology.
Overall, ‘It: Chapter Two’ is filled with problems that might be difficult to overcome for some, but the performances, beautiful direction, comedy, and strong themes and conclusion are enough to keep you invested in these characters despite a huge running time.