“IT Chapter Two” has big shoes to fill following the success of “IT Chapter One.” Josh Campbell doesn’t believe the sequel lived up to the standard of its predecessor.
Complex characters, horrific imagery, clever humor and nuanced political statements. “IT Chapter 2” has none of these things. OK, maybe it has some horrific imagery but, my God, why did it need to be three hours long?
The film begins with a man getting “Pennywised” and good ole’ Mike calling the gang back together. Aside from the former, they’ve all moved on from Derry, Maine. Quite successfully, it turns out. Each character seems to be making a six-figure income in whatever they decided to pursue, including standup comedy. What’s really incredible is how the film manages to cap your expectations in this short intro sequence. The adult cast makes it immediately clear that they won’t be filling the shoes of their younger costars.
Some of them do an alright job. James Ransone as the hypochondriac, Eddie; Isaiah Mustafa, as a slightly bonkers Mike. Unfortunately, the rest just mug about at best or are named James McAvoy at worst. The most depressing casualty can be found in the comedically castrated Bill Hader. The script literally gives him a stage to perform standup on, yet robs him of any personality.
Overall, these senior versions of the “Losers” come off as hollow. All the work of their younger counterparts is either washed away or left stagnant. Bill stutters sometimes and Eddie is still a mama’s boy. Any developments come off as half-baked. Beverly finds herself in an abusive marriage, but this is only noted in the first half hour and then completely abandoned. In the clumsiest turn, it’s hinted that one of the characters is homosexual. This only amounts to a plot device and something for Pennywise to ridicule during one of the horror episodes.
These horror vignettes seem to take over the film after the first act. The adult characters split up in order to find “artifacts” from their past. The reason for this being an inability to remember their childhood and why they need to stop Pennywise. But, the first movie showed us that, so it should be a quick recap, right? Wrong, we have three hours to fill. We go with each character to some local from the first film, see a flashback to the period of separation in the first film, and see the adult Loser grapple with a seemingly less-interested Pennywise.
I say less-interested because this kooky clown loves killing kids. One kid, two kid, three kid, you can’t stop this guy from munching on poorly supervised preteens. The point is, a lot of people die in this movie. Which is fun. It’s a horror film. But paired with the uninteresting characters, poorly timed anti-comedy and incessant use of jump scares: the whole thing feels like a clip show. Some of the clips are good, notably one with a firefly, but most are forgettable. Bill Skarsgard returns with another performance as Pennywise that balances camp with creep, but he becomes such a familiar face that the scares begin to wane.
“IT Chapter 1” was fun, maybe a bit overly nostalgic, but a nice popcorn flick. “IT Chapter 2” seems like it wanted to be something more, but that desire for more must have been too difficult. So, instead, they settled for keeping every frame of footage to drag out its runtime. This isn’t a bad film, but it’s a long film that isn’t good, and that’s probably worse. It feels supplemental, never introducing any new ideas, instead languishing in the triumphs of its predecessor. Like those preteens floating with Pennywise, it’s bloated, ugly and something you’ll want to forget with time.