It: Chapter Two

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

It: Chapter Two
dir Andy Muschietti
scr Gary Dauberman
prd Barbara Muschietti, Roy Lee, Dan Lin
with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgard, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Teach Grant
release US/UK 6.Sep.19
19/US New Line 2h49

skarsgard ransone wolfhard
See also:
It (2017)

mustafa, hader, mcavoy, chastain, ryan
After adapting half of Stephen King's epic novel, director Andy Muschietti is back to finish the job, jumping forward 27 years school friends reunite to face their repressed fears. It's a huge movie, even longer than 2017's first chapter, but there's never a dull moment as each scene carries some sort of freak-out. And even though it's corny and far, far too long, there are plenty of scary bits and strong emotions too.
Still living in Derry, Mike (Mustafa) sees the cycle repeating, so he summons his friends to honour their pact and return. Beverly (Chastain) is in an abusive marriage in New York, Bill (McAvoy) is a blocked Hollywood screenwriter, Richie (Hader) is a standup comic, Ben (Ryan) is a bigwig architect, Eddie (Ransone) is a chauffer with a nagging wife, and Stanley (Bean) still lives with his mother. Back home, they immediately encounter the brain-bending nastiness of murderous clown Pennywise (Skarsgard). And librarian Mike has researched history to find a way to get rid of him for good this time.
The epic plot structure involves continually spiralling to the Losers' first encounter with Pennywise as teens, returning the original cast for both flashbacks and new sequences that give both sets of actors plenty of gristle to chew on. Scenes are packed with unsettling tension, creepy digital effects and emotional layers that make the film feel deep and serious even if it never actually becomes profound. So while most scares are superficial (lots of jolts and gore), it's the cast that provides the kicks.

McAvoy, Chastain and a scene-stealing Hader get the best moments, but all of the actors get to play big scenes as characters grapple with childhood events they've tried to forget. The central theme is about confronting fears that Pennywise uses against them, and character details allow the actors to add surprising complexity in unusual places. The entire cast is gifted at this, both older and younger versions, while Skarsgard manages to keep finding textures in Pennywise.

Some elements of the plot never quite gel, such as Grant's murderous escaped convict. But at least he adds a (relatively) non-supernatural angle to the horror. In King's writing, the nastiest things never have anything to do with the monsters, and indeed the strained inter-connections are more gripping than the outrageous scary mayhem. So as the movie builds to its wildly bonkers grand finale, it holds some squishy sentimentality in reserve. As if Muschietti wants to wash away nightmares with warm smiles and tears.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 2.Sep.19

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

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dir Andy Muschietti
scr Chase Palmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
with Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Bill Skarsgard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs
release US/UK 8.Sep.17
17/US New Line 2h15
Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

It Stephen King's enormous 1986 novel gets an ambitious adaptation by filmmakers Andy and Barbara Muschietti, sticking to the part of the tale in which the main characters are teens. So now the King echoes in Stranger Things come full-circle. The terrific young cast bring these kids to life with refreshingly salty language and willingness to look evil in the face. That would be Skarsgard's deeply unnerving clown Pennywise, who's a lot scarier as an actor in makeup rather than augmented with nightmarish digital trickery. In fact, the freakiest scenes are the quiet ones involving the character details, rather than the hugely violent set pieces. Still, it's gruesome good fun. And it nicely sets up a sequel to tell the rest of King's story.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 5.Oct.18, on a plane

© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall