Great cast, slow pace in IT: Chapter 2

“It: Chapter 2” is the sequel to the 2017 film “It,” which followed a group of young teenagers combatting an evil entity that takes the form of the clown known as Pennywise. Directed by Andy Muschietti and based on the book by famed horror author Stephen King, the first film went on to break tons of records, including becoming the highest grossing horror film of all time.  It was one of the most popular films of 2017.

The sequel follows the same characters from the original movie, now well into adulthood.  They return to their hometown of Derry, Maine, upon learning about Pennywise’s return, to face their past traumas and fears to end the threat of Pennywise once and for all.

Led by an A-list cast including James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, the performances on display here are very impressive.  All of the actors make you feel like you are watching the same characters from the first movie; only this time, over twenty years older.  It’s clear that a lot of care went into these performances to ensure the continuity of the characters.  There was never a point in the movie where it felt as though they were not the same people.  Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is also a distinct highlight, as he was in the first movie: chilling and terrifying as the iconic shape-shifting clown.

Less impressive, however, was the screenplay and pacing of the movie.  The movie is nearly three hours in length, and you can feel it.  There were a handful of points throughout the film where it dragged, leaving you thinking: “Couldn’t this be shorter?”   This is due in part to how the movie falls into a very predictable and repetitive formula in it’s second act, which hurts the horror the film is clearly attempting to present.  After the first handful of “scare” moments, the ones following come across as exhausting and superfluous.

The scenes where all of the main cast are interacting with each other are the best highlights of the movie, with the last stretch of the film offering a truly emotional and cathartic conclusion to the story.

It’s worth noting the heavy usage of comedy throughout the movie—most of it is really effective.  Bill Hader and James Ransone are doing the heavy lifting in the comedy department, as they nail most of the material given to them.  While the material is quite funny, it at times felt a little out of place.  The film opens with an extremely disturbing act of bigoted violence, which makes it a bit jarring to rapidly transition into comedy immediately afterwards.  It may not be a detractor for most people, but it is worth mentioning.

“It: Chapter 2” is a complicated, clunky mess of a movie that still offers tons of crowd-pleasing moments, and great character work with each of its cast members.  While the horror doesn’t always land, there are plenty of chilling moments throughout. There are plenty of problems, but most people will likely walk away happy with this sequel, as it is still contains a satisfying conclusion to the story originally penned by Stephen King.

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