Some stories are beloved by their fans. This isn’t a terrible thing, but it can make stories difficult to adapt for the screen. What parts of the story can you trimmed down? What parts can be excised completely? These are difficult questions, and if your viewers are those that love the text their answer will be "nothing."
It Chapter Two is a long movie. It’s not a poorly made movie or a poorly acted one, but it is long. Too long. Like, way too long, and I feel like the filmmakers didn’t have adequate answers to those two questions I posed above.
The story picks up 27 years after the first. The Losers are adults and (mostly) moved on from Derry. Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is married to an abusive husband. Bill (James McAvoy) is a successful writer but can’t write a happy ending to save his life. Ben (Jay Ryan) is a slim, fit, good looking architect. Richie (Bill Hader) is a stand up comedian. Eddie (James Ransone) has most assuredly not grown out of his hypochondria and is a successful risk assessment guy for a big insurance company. Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) is the only Loser who stayed in Derry and lives in a creepy tower above the library.
In the films opening scenes we learn that Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is back and so Mike summons everyone home to fulfil the pact they made in the first movie to fight It again. Everyone who can comes home and the scares begin.
There is some good stuff here. One of my favourite scenes in the movie is an early one where the Losers reconnect for the first time. It’s a scene full of sweet moments and they are so well cast and acted that you can see they’re truly friends. I can’t stress this enough: the movie is cast perfectly. Everyone of the Losers looks and sounds like their younger counterparts, in some cases uncannily so. Keep and eye on Bill Hader and James Ransone, they’re both putting in A+ performances. Also, if you were happy with Bill Skarsgård in the first movie then you’ll continue to be so in this one. He really is good at being creepy.
But the film also treats the Losers inconsistently. Once the plot gets going they have to split up and each one of them has to go find a McGuffin. For those of you counting at home, that means there’s six individual McGuffins. Each of these has a flashback story and a present story and each of those has a scare sequence. Or they should, but we don’t see all of Ben’s and we don’t see any of Mike’s. It’s weird to complain that the movie is overlong but also that the characters each need more time, but my point here is that there had to be a way to make this whole sequence more expedient.
Similarly, there’s the character of Henry Bowers, who adds to the runtime but doesn’t actually accomplish anything in the second movie except add to said runtime.
I feel like the filmmakers are caught between a rock and a hard place. They used up the best parts of the story in the first movie, but there’s still tons of material to cram into this second one. I also know that original director Cary Fukunaga had written a script that was re-written for the first movie, and it feels like it was maybe discarded for this one leading to a lot of these inconsistencies, along with things like Mike being the one who knows all of Derry’s history in this film but Ben being the one in the first film.
Look, it’s hard to explain this without spoiling the movie. So is it scary? That’s really up to you. I did get caught by one jump scare, but there isn’t anything as effective a the slide show scene in the first one, and often times the scenes are undercut by a joke at the end. That’s not a problem once or twice, but it kind of is more often than that.
So will you like it? I don’t know, but I didn’t. Again, it’s well cast an well acted, but inconsistent and way too long.