A film revolving around closure, which It Chapter Two very much is, needs to wraps up the story well. Thankfully, director Andy Muschietti knows what makes Stephen King tick and maintains excellent continuity with the first film. Fans of 2017’s outing will be satisfied by Pennywise’s conclusion, even if it doesn’t quite match the former’s highs.
Of course, It Chapter Two is far from a perfect film. A few issues make the ride bumpier than expected, but audiences will find no shortage of scares, laughs and even tears.
A Long Time For Pennywise
The first and biggest issue, frankly, is the runtime. Clocking in at 169 minutes, It Chapter Two is practically the length of Avengers: Endgame. While that in and of itself isn’t a problem, there are moments that the length is very much felt.
King’s novel moves through time seamlessly, shuttling between the Losers as adults and their encounter with Pennywise as children. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman instead tackled the first defeat in It before returning to Derry 27 years later for Chapter Two. This narrative device works for the most part, without a doubt. Except that the callbacks to the past in the second film begin to get a bit repetitive. The link is necessary, however, for an important MacGuffin that makes up much of the movie. It also allows for more than one touching scene to take place. But one side effect is that it makes parts of the sequel feel like deleted scenes from the first film.
One plot point in particular winds up using the same scare tactic enough times to have viewers checking their watch during the middle. On the flipside, the film opens on a painful reminder of the hatred in Derry that Pennywise feeds off of. This terrible introductory scene not only connects to the overall theme of It Chapter Two, but also to one character’s story specifically. Yet the film never has a chance to return to it, since every adult’s childhood battle with Pennywise must be accounted for. Perhaps a little editing in the latter half could have brought that through line to the forefront.
It Second Installment Brings Relief After Trauma
The aforementioned battles can’t be discounted, however, as several of them bring raw and powerful emotions to the forefront. It Chapter Two contains meaty material for the entire cast of Losers, both in 1989 and 2016. Some characters inevitably have more to juggle than others, but each one has their own demons to face and the space in which to wrestle with them fairly. In some ways, the saga is akin to the moral lesson in one of Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales, its completion unsettling yet satisfying.
Bill Hader’s performance is particularly of note, and with good reason. He plays every nuanced note of Richie’s struggle with self-acceptance and loss beautifully. Jessica Chastain and Isaiah Mustafa also put in some wonderful work, as Beverly and Mike are the characters most affected by Pennywise at the start of the film. Bill Skarsgård’s breathtaking turn as the terrible clown cannot be overlooked, but the character’s lack of clarity does take away some of the shine. Nevertheless, there are plenty of face-offs sure to make viewers jump, scream or cheer in turn.
The crux of It Chapter Two is trauma, how it shapes people’s lives, and how facing it is a necessity to survive. On a thematic level, the movie is a complete success. The message could not be clearer, or more effectively conveyed by its talented cast and action-packed third act. Witness Pennywise’s revenge on September 6th, and check That Hashtag Show for the latest news on your favorite films.