Directed by Andy Muschietti, IT: Chapter 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, coming off of the terrific first entry, which was exactly what it needed to be: funny, scary, and at heart, a coming-of-age story with its core being its young cast. Sadly, this one, which admittedly has numerous sequences that capture that feeling of the first, fails to strike that magic for its three hour runtime.
It has the unfortunate case of being left with the brunt of the source material, while also tying up the conclusions, which leads to an overall fun, if definitely exhausting watch. Exhausting, I think, captures this well because while IT: Chapter 2 is definitely enjoyable, it feels like too much and not enough at the same time. Numerous sequences are drawn out, forgotten, come back to, and then quickly forgotten, and while these sequences are fun, after the two hour mark it feels like the film is bashing you with idea after idea, concept after concept.
IT’s (pun intended) plagued by too many minor issues that, when combined, leave a somewhat bad taste in your mouth for the more enjoyable segments of the movie, whether it’s too many endings in the last half hour, some questionable CGI for the flashbacks of the young cast, strange editing choices in the first act, or some really repetitive scares. That might be where the movie bugged me the most. These jump scares, simply relying on something popping out to make the scene memorable, was an issue that popped up in Chapter 1, but was handled better, as it was in moderation. Dialing it back is something that would’ve helped the film both in terms of runtime and scares. While in the first film, the scares knew their limits and were there just long enough to be memorable, here, exactly when, where, and how they’ll be presented is set up and told to you clearly, removing the unpredictability that makes a horror movie…scary. This makes for effective build ups to the horror set-pieces, but disappointing climaxes in each of them. They all overuse CGI to a point where the scares lose their effect and come off silly. Muschietti goes for a creature design that, in some cases, is effective, but after the nth appearance of a generic creature, becomes tiring. The CGI is definitely strong (not on those de-aging effects, sadly) but is used too much. It, no doubt, is very visually interesting in some cases, and feels bigger than the first, but tends to be hit-or-miss.
Again, none of this would be as large an issue if it weren’t for the three hour, colossal runtime. Considering how excited I was for this film, I found myself surprised when I was really waiting for it to wrap up and make its point.
All that being said, this is an enjoyable movie. Its casting is spot-on, and each actor for the Losers’ Club perfectly reflects their child counterpart. Bill Hader was the clear standout, and was pitch-perfect in his performance of loudmouth Richie, who was also the highlight, and my personal favorite of the first entry. He brings a ton of humor to the movie, and kept me entertained throughout the runtime, but what’s more impressive is the emotional aspect of his role. He provided some really good emotional beats, a few of which were probably the highlight of the film. The entire cast was phenomenal in capturing the friendship of their characters’ younger selves, and they felt like the same characters from the first.
My only issue on the character front was the handling of Mike. I haven’t read the book, but I know he plays a much larger role in that, and here, you could tell they tried to involve him more, but his character came across as solely exposition. In the first, he was sidelined, with barely anything to do, and here, while he has a “larger role,” on a character front, he gets nothing.
And finally, Bill Skarsgard, as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, is again perfect in his portrayal of a character. In a film filled with CGI, his portrayal of the clown was by far the scariest thing in it, and every moment he gets on screen he steals.
All in all, IT: Chapter 2 was very mixed for me. While it was lots of fun, and certainly scary in some parts, an overstuffed plot, bloated runtime, and repetitive scares brought it down.