Monday, October 21, 2019

IT: Chapter Two The Twisted Clown is Back in Town!

Reel Reviews

“IT: Chapter Two” is the direct continuation of the 2017 film “IT.” Twenty-seven years after the events of the first film, the group of friends once known as The Losers Club are now living their own separate lives as adults. Unfortunately, the evil entity known as IT, or Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), has returned to haunt the town of Derry. As children begin to disappear, it falls on the Losers to return to their hometown one last time and put a stop to it. Together, they’ll have to pick up the pieces of their forgotten pasts and uncover the origins of Pennywise. Only then will they be able to venture into the eldritch abomination’s hidden lair and end it once and for all. The film also features Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and James Ransone.

One thing that must be made clear about “IT: Chapter Two” is it’s not technically a sequel; it’s a direct continuation. Both movies are based on the 1987 Stephen King novel of the same name. Given that King’s original book was over 1,138-pages long, there were bound to be cuts and changes. It’s common in films based on novels, like how “The Hobbit” was split into three movies—for better or worse. In the “IT” films case, I feel like it was a clever idea. The original novel was pretty much broken into two parts, the Losers facing Pennywise as children, then as adults. Whether or not you feel the novel is good or ridiculous is a matter of opinion, but there’s no denying that the story was a creepy and well-crafted tale. The big question, however, is how does the movie match up?

This is a tricky film to dissect. Like comedy, horror is subjective. What you or I find scary, might seem minuscule to someone else, and vice versa. If you’re scared of clowns, blood, and children in danger, then this film is probably going to be a rough and disturbing ride. If you’re like me and stuff like that doesn’t, then this will be easier than you think. It pains me to say it, but I wasn’t as scared as I would have hoped. Make no mistake, however, there were plenty of moments where I was uncomfortable and even creeped out by the material presented on screen. But it’s like I said, horror is subjective. It probably didn’t help that I know the “IT” story inside and out from the novel and original mini-series. So, if you go into this film blind and unaware of the original material, you should have a fairly scary experience, though not without some other issues.

I never thought I would have to critique this in a movie, but my biggest complaint about “IT: Chapter Two” is its humor. It’s a common thing in non-comedy movies that they’ll throw in a joke or two to lighten the tension or break away from the drama. The first film had good humor, but the difference between the previous film and this one is there was a balance to it. That’s not the case for “IT: Chapter Two” as the film goes a bit too far with the amount of humor it has. There’s one joke that feels like it was lifted from the movie “Deadpool,” and that’s not something you want your viewers thinking when they’re watching your dark thriller. However, the saddest thing is that the humor was actually better than most mainstream comedies. I legit liked the humor, but I don’t want to laugh, I want to be scared!

If it comes across like I dislike this film, don’t take my criticism too harshly, because I enjoyed it. From beginning to end, I was entertained and invested. It has its flaws, but its’ saving graces make it worth seeing, and those are its characters—the Losers. In the first film, I praised it for its roster of likable characters, and even now as adults, they’re still likable and help carry the story. Each actor fits their role perfectly; it actually feels like it’s the original kids all grown up. And seeing them band together against a Lovecraftian abomination like Pennywise, who constantly hounds and taunts them throughout the picture, makes it all the more gripping as you’re rooting for them to come out with the happy ending they deserve.

The final feature that needs addressing is the movie’s length; because it’s a long one. The film clocks in at two hours and fifty minutes, and that’s only the theatrical edited version. According to behind the scenes interviews with the director, there may be an extended four-hour cut coming to video one day. So, that technically makes “IT: Chapter Two” one of the longest American-made horror films ever released—right next to “Grindhouse” and the original “IT: Mini-Series” with Tim Curry.

“IT: Chapter Two” is rated R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, along with pervasive language and some crude sexual material. This film falls under the realm of a fun cross between a serial-killer tale and a ghost story. It’s not scary enough that it’ll leave you traumatized—unless you’re scared of clowns and child endangerment—but creepy enough that it’ll hold your attention and leave you with something to talk about. Here’s hoping the next Stephen King release will be just as impactful, but until then, the final score for “IT: Chapter Two” is an 8 out of 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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