The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent Tony Farinella.
“It Chapter 2” was a film that I really thought was going to add to what the previous film had done back in 2017. I was very impressed with the chemistry of the children and especially with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. He brought a whole new element of creepiness to the mix. When you have a clown scaring children, it is the perfect combination for an entertaining yet disturbing horror flick. Sadly, when they are adults, it does not have quite the same impact. The film is also held back by its nearly three-hour running time. With some films, the running time is not always noticeable because of how it is edited. In this case, however, they could have cut close to a half-hour from the film, and it would have made a major difference.
Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) has stayed in Derry, Maine for the past twenty-seven years in what appears to be a dungeon of sorts. He has been waiting for Pennywise to return. Now, Pennywise has returned, and Mike decides to get the Losers Club back together because of the pact they made when they were children to end him once and for all, if he ever came back. Sadly, there is little in the way of backstory when it comes to the adults in this flick.
Richie Tozier is played by Bill Hader, which on paper sounds like a perfect casting decision. I don’t know if this was Hader doing improv during shooting or if this was in the script, but you can tell when he is about to make a joke, and the jokes are not funny and feel forced. Jessica Chastain is the star of the show as Beverly Marsh, and she brings the right amount of humanity, vulnerability, and strength to this role. James McAvoy also delivers a strong performance as Bill Denbrough. As for Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), he is no longer the overweight kid from the previous film. He has lost a lot of weight and is still pining over Beverly all these years later, even having her signature from his yearbook in his wallet.
From a visual perspective, James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak is a great casting choice, as he looks almost exactly like the child actor he is portraying as an adult. Andy Bean rounds out the Losers Club as Stanley Uris. The magic word in an ensemble movie is chemistry and, I am sad to say, they do not have much of it together, and this really puts a damper on the proceedings. I remember watching the original film and its special features, and the kids really clicked on and off set. It is what made the film so powerful and enjoyable. Here, it feels like a bunch of actors are thrown together just for the sake of ending the story.
Another major issue with the film is how infrequently they use Pennywise. In the first film, he is shown here and there, but the power of his presence is undeniable. In this second chapter, he almost seems like an afterthought. He is shown only a handful of times in the first two hours before showing up for the finale. While some might say this was done to build things up and leave the audience wanting more, it instead focuses too much on the individual characters and their lackluster backstories. They have not changed much in twenty-seven years, and this is not a good thing.
What is most maddening about “It Chapter 2” is how individual scenes are so powerful and impactful. This is frustrating because it makes you wish more of the film had that type of feeling to it. Instead, the film is bogged down in going from the past to the present, and it does not have a flow to it. There is no rhythm or consistency, and it is overstuffed. There are things to like in “It Chapter 2,” but you have to suffer through a lot of tedious and unnecessary scenes to get to them and enjoy them. This is one of the most frustrating films I have seen in 2019 because of how good it could have been if they had a clear vision on what they wanted to do from start to finish.
* * out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “It Chapter 2” is released on a three-disc Blu-ray combo pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It has a running time of 169 minutes. It is rated R for disturbing violent and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material. One disc is the DVD, one is the Blu-Ray, and the final disc is the bonus disc with all of the special features.
Audio Info: The audio for the film is presented in Dolby Atmos-TrueHD: English, English Descriptive Audio, and Dolby Digital: English, French, and Spanish. The audio is tremendous, and it is really effective during the more anxious scenes in the movie. Subtitles are also in English, French, and Spanish.
Video Info: The 1080p high definition transfer of the film looks outstanding. It is dark in the right moments when the tension calls for it. When scenes are in broad daylight it is really bright and vibrant.
The Summer of It: Chapter One, You’ll Float Too and The Summer of It: Chapter Two, It Ends
Pennywise Lives Again
The Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun
Finding the Deadlights
Commentary by Director Andy Muschietti
Should You Buy It?
I am not mad at “It Chapter 2.” I am just disappointed. It is clear everyone involved here wanted to make a great film, but maybe they should have waited a little bit longer in terms of its release date. I know we live in a world where people want things right now, but if they were going to finish this up properly, they should have really taken their time to get it done properly. There is too much movie here.
There are a ton of great special features, however. There are so many special features that they had to add an extra disc to the set which is a nice touch. I appreciate the effort they put into this Blu-ray from that aspect as well as the audio and visuals. There are hints of greatness here, but the final product of the film left me feeling underwhelmed. There is a really good movie somewhere in here, but it gets lost in a sea of mediocrity. If you want to own both films, I would buy this one when it goes on sale.