In the summer of 1989 in the small Maine town called Derry, Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Eddie, and Stanley, also known as the Losers Club, banded together to destroy a shape-shifting monster that disguises itself as a clown named Pennywise and preys on the children of Derry by turning into their worst nightmares. After defeating Pennywise, the Losers believe it is gone forever and make a pact that if it were to ever come back, they would come back to Derry again and defeat it once again.
Now, twenty-seven years later, the Losers Club has disbanded and gone on living their own lives in separate parts of the country. When a series of gruesome murders begin to happen around Derry, Mike, the only Loser who still lives in Derry, realizes it’s the work of Pennywise and calls the Losers to come back to Derry and defeat It once and for all.
It Chapter 2 is the second part of the film adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic novel, It. King’s original novel is 1,138 pages long, which seems almost impossible to adapt properly on film, so the idea of not cramming the entire novel into one movie was a great idea from the get-go. The first film, which focuses on the Losers as teenagers, had plenty of scares, yet was coupled with strong character development and a coming of age story that really got us to know these kids. We understood everything they were going through and it really added a level of emotion not seen in a lot of horror movies.
Where Chapter 2 fails is the character depth that we got in the first one. We were immersed in the lives and the minds of these children in the first film that it felt like we became friends with them. In this one, however, I felt like I barely knew any of the Losers as adults. We get brief glimpses into their lives at the beginning of the film, like finding out Bill is a writer who’s books have terrible endings, Richie is a comedian, Ben is an architect, and Beverly is married to an abusive man and started a fashion line. But this is really all the development we get. We don’t learn anything about how they grew up with the trauma they just faced after defeating Pennywise the first time. We didn’t see the fallout of their friendship and see how they ended up where they did in their lives. We really only got some brief exposition and then they were back in Derry trying to defeat Pennywise.
What Chapter 2 needed to be was two films and the It series should have been a trilogy. What is great about Stephen King novels and films based on his novels is that the horror element is not the main reason his books are great. King has deep themes and rich characters and then adds the horror elements into that. Chapter 2 could have been just about the Losers growing up and growing apart while dealing with the trauma of what they had gone through. Show us why and how Beverly ended up with an abusive husband, show us how Bill struggles with his writing, and show us how Ben got to be successful. These aspects in another movie would have made a third and final movie, that focuses solely on the adventure to stop Pennywise and the epic showdown between the Losers and horrifying clown more intense and more emotional while also diving more into King’s themes of memory, trauma, and loss. And, with this movie being a whopping two hours and forty-seven minutes, an extreme runtime and about a half hour longer than the first film, they could have easily cut down some of this film and added more to another film in order to truly tell these characters stories.
It Chapter 2 isn’t all bad, though. There are some parts that genuinely creeped me out, like when Claire visits her childhood home, and we get some pretty good performances, particularly by Bill Hader as Richie and James Ransone as Eddie, as well as Bill Skarsgård, who is doing some real work as Pennywise. And even though the editing is really choppy and a erratic, the film is constructed pretty well, with some gorgeous cinematography and set design.
It Chapter 2 is rushed and shallow and didn’t do its characters justice, which is what drove the first one. This is a movie that stuffed too much into it and rather than focus on what was great about this story and the Losers. Making this a trilogy would have been a a better move and would have done the novel justice and made for one hell of a horror trilogy.
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