Cinemaster Score: 5.4/10
There are plenty of problems throughout IT Chapter Two. Its most striking failure, though, is its failure to live up to its predecessor in any way. It (2017) was an amazing film that is impossible to not think of when watching IT Chapter Two. This sequel throws away the unique way the story was being told and all potential with it. Attempting to adapt the book more directly, we are given a rough script in places originally (and intentionally) void of dialogue. This representation best captures the novel’s slow start, as about an hour of the film is little more than a “where are they now” section. Due to the strange script and odd story choices, most of the expectedly more impressive star talent is wasted, too. To further show that IT Chapter Two feels hollow by comparison to its predecessor, there are many flashback scenes to show how much better these characters were when displayed as youthful. The entire film is wasted potential and drags on for too long just for an anticlimactic finale. The film is really difficult to enjoy – especially knowing what it could’ve been. Instead, we are given confused direction from Andy Muschietti and an even more confused sequel to an amazing flick.
Acting; IT Chapter Two has an undeniably all-star cast. In the leading roles are James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and Jessica Chastain. Yet, the unfortunate surprise here is their talents being mostly wasted. McAvoy, for example, is an amazing dramatic actor – but here he is only given a handful of scenes to work his magic with. Conversely, Hader gets his fair share of both comedic and dramatic scenes to show off his talent. However, the best performances in IT Chapter Two are Isaiah Mustafa as Mike and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. Mustafa works with the very odd script to build his character as complex and compelling. Skarsgård, though, is easily the most entertaining as he reprises his role as the ever-terrifiying Pennywise. If only he had gotten more screen time to impress us all – then again, that sums up the entire issue with this movie’s use of its acting talents.
Script; A lot of IT Chapter Two feels awkward due to the strange script it was given. The incredible cast is given little to work with in terms of meaningful dialogue, and are mostly flat in their delivery because of this. Even compared to their child counterparts, the adults are much less interesting and charming in their roles due to the lackluster scriptwork. There are only a handful of jokes that truly land, and the majority of them are from one or two characters for the bulk of the film. To make matters worse, the main character in Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is perhaps the worst written of the bunch. This is disappointing considering his character was so well done in the first film, making his lack of a coherent arc all the more noticeable. Overall, the writing for IT Chapter Two is not terrible, but it certainly isn’t as charming as the first in any regard.
Characters; What’s most painful about this sequel is perhaps its use of the iconic Losers Club compared to the first iteration. Again we are given Bill Denbrough, Richie Tozier, Beverly Marsh, Stanley Uris, Eddie Kasbrak, Ben Hanscom, and Mike Hanlon. However, IT Chapter Two somehow manages to waste such a star studded cast including the likes of James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and Jessica Chastain, by making the characters they portray one-note and boring. It’s difficult not to compare the characters from IT Chapter Two to the first, especially since those in the first were so much better. From the direction in which they were taken to the performances behind them, nearly every character from this iteration is lackluster at best. Taking the excellent cast into consideration, there is no excuse as to why these characters are so much worse than in their previous installment.
Direction; Andy Muschietti’s success with It (2017) was quite the shock in consideration of his lack of directing experience. Therefore, it would’ve been a feat to for him to top – a feat for him to even match – his direction prior to IT Chapter Two. But here, the direction nearly feels downright messy. The earliest notable problem is the way Muschietti adapts the novel. For instance, the opening scene feels very unnecessary – as the start of the book it feels ominous and scary, but for the second movie it doesn’t work as we already know of Pennywise. There are many other scenes like this in which Muschietti tries to force IT Chapter Two into being the book despite his the choice to try telling the story differently with It (2017). It’s sloppy on Muschietti’s end and doesn’t work. Many of his decisions seem to comparatively fail in bringing his film together – especially as a sequel. From adding in generic dialogue over no dialogue, to his eccentric subplot with Mike Hanlon, Muschietti has nowhere near the understanding of the source material (and how to adapt it) as we thought.
Story; The plot outline for IT Chapter Two is baffling in how much it tries to balance – especially considering it had no reason to be overcomplicated. The story starts where the book does – being more than just an homage to Stephen King’s novel, but a near shot-for-shot adaptation of it. But in the film, this simply doesn’t work to start our story. The story is continuously told in a similar manner – making the book directly into film and practically throwing away the unique choices made in putting together It (2017). The plot starts slow and uneven with the first act being just a methodical buildup to the Losers Club reunion. There are a plethora of character-central scenes that stretch the runtime and don’t add much. Tagging onto those are callbacks to their younger selves – but these scenes are new and (once again) make it so the movie before this doesn’t need to be watched. Also thrown in for good measure is a weird subplot that doesn’t result in much and is another distraction with little reasoning. All the odd choices made by Muschietti compared to It (2017) – plus an anticlimactic and strange ending – make IT Chapter Two a relatively weak sequel.
Enjoyment; IT Chapter Two gets progressively more entertaining as it chugs along – although, by the time it does so, there is barely any time left to enjoy it. The first act of the film is mediocre at best, and it leaves a rather sour taste in one’s mouth afterwards. From the awkward delivery of certain lines, to the complete tonal inconsistencies that punctuate the majority of its scenes, nothing is done particularly well or with charm. Part of this may have something to do with the lengthy runtime that completely works against the movie. There are too many scenes in IT Chapter Two that should have been cut or at least shortened to keep the experience at a brisk pace. It does eventually get better, but by the time we reach the third act, we’re left wanting more scares than meaningless distractions.
David: “I recall being extremely hyped for this film at the very end of It (2017). That hype carried most of the way into It Chapter Two. However, I found disappointment as everything from the star power to the way the first movie was told might as well have been thrown away. The film has a slow, uneven pace that goes on for way too long.”
JP: “Sadly, IT Chapter Two didn’t live up to any of my expectations in the slightest. The great casting couldn’t save this movie from being a dull experience from beginning to end – even if Pennywise was just as good – if not better – than in the first. I found it lackluster in nearly every aspect when compared to the first.”