IT: Chapter Two (aka IT 2) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
I’m not one to bash a picture for being too long; no good film is too long, no terrible film short enough. But at nearly three hours, I feel like that time should be used wisely, even if it’s based on a supremely thick novel by Stephen King. IT Chapter 2, unfortunately, spends most of that running time basking in its surreal scares than getting to know its now grown-up characters. If only it had enough faith in its strong cast to flourish instead of being overpowered by a nonstop cavalcade of nightmare tedium.
27 years have passed and its once more time for the tradition if the supernatural clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) to rise from his sewer sanctum to munch on victims once more. He still goes after kids but now feasts on targets of fearful homosexuals. Such an opening appears as though it may be opening the flood gates for a new kind of story. Those hopes are dashed quickly when realizing this is mere fodder for Pennywise's rampage.
Realizing they can't run away from this ordeal, the Losers Club reassembles in Derry for one more bout of clown killing, this time do I'll ng enough homework to finish the job. The most notable of the cast is James McAvoy playing a grownup Bill who still struggles with his speech impediment and now a writers' block for ending his screenplays. He still hasn't gotten over the loss of his childhood brother Georgie from the first movie and needs some closure.
The only problem is that everyone else is in the same spot and crowd each other as they divide up individual screen time. Jessica Chastain plays a grownup Beverly who still hasn't gotten over her abusive father and finds herself in an abusive relationship. Bill Hader plays a grownup Richie who is still funny but hasn't fully come out of the closet and kinda doesn't for this film. There's just so much to do that the second becomes a monotonous string of nostalgia and scares to the point where all surprises have faded, where even a giant naked woman with nasty teeth and vomiting zombie seems mundane by the film's own standards.
It’s not that the scary scenes are poorly assembled but they lack a certain sensation of fear. This seems especially clear from the odd edits to the film that seems to have been made in post-production. After Eddie is scarred in an attack by a knife-wielding maniac, he exits the room and mutters as he gets to the door how the killer should get rid of the mullet in the modern era. Another scene with Eddie features a leper puking black goo all over him and a classic rock song has been placed over it because, I dunno, I guess it’s funnier. But even the many aspects that don’t seem like post-production comedy calls have such a reach for laughs they transform this tale into a much different film. Why does Bill try to keep kids away from streetside sewer drains when he knows full well Pennywise can strike anywhere he wants? Why do Eddie and Richie have a scary door bit during the climax that feels like its from a Laurel and Hardy movie? Why does the gang do a “check, please” joke after destroying a dining room where Pennywise’s terror strikes them all?
IT Chapter 2 comes to a clunky end by slamming in so many scenes from the novel without much genuine flow or frights. Despite the central message seeming a little more clear and a cute cameo by Stephen King, the film is ultimately an exhausting experience that never fully engages over the course of its three hours.