I have often stated that, for one reason or another, I have yet to read a single Stephen King book, meaning I am not always sure if the films are entirely faithful to the material (thought it is wildly known that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was not, resulting in King vocally hating the film). It is true that most (if not all) film adapations will differ from the original source, so I feel compelled to judge the film as a whole rather than just how well the film was accurate or not. Whether or not IT Chapter Two is in the loyal category or not, the end result is still rather disappointing, especially since the first IT film two years ago was one of the better horror films of recent memory (I even went to declare it as the best film of 2017).
The film (directed by Andy Muschietti, who also directed the first film) opens twenty seven years after the events of the first film (2016, so modern day in some form), we see the return of the terrifying Pennywise (once again, played radiantly by Bill Skarsgard). We see that only one member of the Loser’s Club, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) has decided to stay in the town of Derry, Maine (in flashbacks, he is played by Chosen Jacobs). He begins to call the remaining members back.
As expected, a lot has changed in twenty seven years, which is shown through a good number of flashbacks (where all the child actors from the original return). When last seen, young Bill (Jaeden Martell) was the leader and getting over his stuttering problem (let alone the death of his little brother Georgie). Now as an adult, Bill (James McAvoy) is a writer who seems to have problems coming up with good endings. Young Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) was last overweight yet still kind hearted. Now, the adult Ben (Jay Ryan) has clearly been working out, yet his heart is the same as ever (and still turned toward the one person who signed his yearbook twenty seven years ago). Ever the comic relief, young Richie (Finn Wolfhard) has grown up to be a comedian (played by Bill Hader). There is still the hypochondriac Eddie (James Ransone, who looks the most like his younger self when played by Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff as a child, and Andy Bean as an adult), and, finally, Beverly (Sophia Lillis as a child and Jessica Chastain as an adult).
One of the shocking parts to me (which I believe was in the book) was that it takes the characters a good amount of time to remember the events of the past (with the exception of Mike, who, due to staying in Derry, has remembered everything). I guess it would make sense that, due to the oddities of Derry (“I’m kind of used to it by now”, Bill says), memories may have faded in time (all of us have faded memories as well). However, some seem to take a long time for the characters to remember (it does not seem to cross Bill’s mind for sometime that he once had a little brother).
It is said that, in order to defeat IT, each member must retrieve a piece of their past, which must be done by themselves. This results in the flashbacks to the parts of that summer when the kids were not on speaking terms (after Eddie broke his arm and Bill punched Richie in the face). While the first film showed how we have to face our fears, the second film dives deeper, as it shows we sometimes do all we can to bury our fears and insecurities in the past. Facing our past mistakes can be scary in itself (think of Moses).
While I know there are parts of the story that needed to be told, the film still runs too long. There are some moments that are well done, but don’t really drive the story at all. One main scene I can think of is with a little girl who discovers Pennywise under the bleachers of a local baseball game. The scene is well done and affective, but what does it add to the story? We already knew that Pennywise was taking bloodcurdling to the next level.
Another one of the flaws of the film was the return of a certain character from the first one. While I won’t give it away (and the new actor looked like this character would in the future so well I was borderline flabbergasted), I will say how this character manages to escape predicaments and interact with the other characters is too bizarre to take into account.
As was the case with the first film, the cast is practically pitch perfect. Everyone fits their roles like a glove (I read that, when the child stars were asked who they would like to play their roles as adults, both Finn Wolfhard and Sophia Lillis picked the performers who would eventually play them). We also get two nice cameos that I for one was not expecting at all.
Parents, it should not take much thought to know that this is not a film for children. The movie deserves its R rating, though if your kids did see the first film, they would probably be okay here.
One thing the sequel has more of is CGI, which tends to dampen the scares down a bit (though there are still a good amount of “jump scares” to go around). While the CGI is not bad in a sense, the very idea of seeing Pennywise in his true form takes away some of the imaginative properties we had going into the theater. There is a point in the film where Mike talks about how, sometimes, we tend to keep the memories we like and not the bad ones. That being said, I plan to remember the greatness of the first film and not a lot from the second film.