Review by J.T. Johnson
In the Summer of 1989, a group of kids known as the Loser’s Club joined forces and took down It, a shapeshifting creature that mostly takes on the form of Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård). At the end of what can now be referred to as “It Chapter One”, the gang of kids decide to make an oath that if Pennywise ever returns, they would return to Derry, Maine, and take down the clown for good. 27 years later, the time for their rematch has finally come.
Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) stayed in Derry while everyone else moved on and forgot the events of the first film. Mike notices that a string of disappearances and murders has signaled Pennywise’s return. Once he calls his former friends, they suddenly remember their oath and return to Derry. This includes author Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), fashion designer Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), architect Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), analyst Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and stand-up comic Richie Tozier (Bill Hader).
The first thing that I want to mention is the film’s lengthy runtime. I saw early reviews criticizing the movie’s length, but I felt that the film got going pretty fast and never really felt the runtime as the Loser’s Club comes together once again to take on their nemesis. In fact, I felt that they sped through a few things at the top of the film a little too fast, but that’s only a minor nitpick.
My only real criticism for the movie is one that I already thought I would have. The movie tells the story of the adult versions of the characters from the first film. That part of the story, like in both the book and in the original 1990 miniseries, just isn’t as interesting as their story from when they were kids. The movie does a great job giving us new material from their time as kids and all of the actors from the original movie return to play their roles in this movie.
Despite this criticism, though, there is still plenty to like in this sequel. Skarsgård is once again brilliant as Pennywise and the various forms of It are fun to watch, even if the special-effects do go a little overboard at times. There’s still plenty of creepy moments in the movie and I’ll tell you this, if you don’t like seeing kids get hurt in movies, then this film is definitely not for you.
Another thing that works in the movie is the adult cast. They are all well cast and you believe that these people are the same characters from the original film. The two standouts that steal the movie, though, are Hader and Ransone as the adult Richie and Eddie, respectfully. Hader shows quite a bit of range from playing the comedic relief when necessary but also takes the more emotional beats of his character just as seriously.
Ransone’s scared Eddie is still a hypochondriac thanks to his mother’s influence from when he was a kid. His encounters with It lead to some chilling encounters and even a few humorous moments for himself. There are some things I would love to talk about with both Hader and Ransone, but I don’t want to spoil as much of the movie as possible.
Is the movie as strong as the original film? No, but the truth is that I never thought it would be. Still, the filmmakers do a great job condensing down a pretty massive story (the book is over 1100 pages long) and they’ve assembled a strong cast to tell what I thought to be a pretty tight story overall. Again, there is plenty to enjoy here and “It Chapter Two” provides a satisfying conclusion to the story that began in the original film.