Finishing a story well is hard. Just ask David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Theoretically, it would be easier to tie a perfect little bow on your story if you reference over and over how difficult endings are to write. In the case of Andy Muschietti’s IT Chapter Two, though, these intentionally meta nods were perhaps, even preemptive excuses for a poorly-executed latter half of a two-part series.
When the first film ended in such a way that it could have done without a sequel (and this is not taking the 1,138 page novel into account), coming back to do a second film was already an uphill battle. What began as a group of self-proclaimed Losers banding together to face what frightens them the most and form a lifelong bond by defeating a demonic encapsulation of fear itself turned into a two hour and fifty minute slog that felt both boring and rushed at the same time.
It is obvious that there was a lot of lore that was being touched upon and hinted at, but the mission of the Losers was confusing and under-explained. This is where I missed the relative simplicity of Chapter One, which was a scary psychological thriller that makes you think about what Pennywise would use to scare you, should he show up in your town. Chapter Two, on the other hand, reverts more to monster movie tropes and gross out gags than something that will genuinely creep you out.
If it had been more along the lines of its predecessor, its A List actors may have been able to shine as bright as they are capable of. But to have Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy being relegated to lines akin to, “We have to defeat this thing once and for all,” really lessens the impact that actors of their caliber should have. While Bill Hader, who has recently shown that he has legitimate dramatic chops on Barry, is reduced back to a punchline machine, save for a handful of moments. And those handful of moments are predicated on a hidden character detail that only J. K. Rowling would be proud of. Meanwhile, the rest of the adult Losers – particularly James Ransone as Eddie – seemed like they were simply doing impressions of their younger counterparts.
For a movie about confronting your past and letting it inform who you turn into in the future, this movie does not take any positive lessons from what came before. Even at two hours and twenty-six minutes, Chapter One seemed tight for the most part. You got to know the gang and feel like you were a part of the group. But this one just is interested in constantly having the separated or paired off, which makes for a hacky screenplay. Had it been tighter and less meandering, perhaps this review wouldn’t be so bleak. I’ve only mentioned Pennywise once because he seemed to be such a miniscule part of the movie, and barely contributed anything to the characterization of the main characters. Whole scenes and subplots could be replaced with getting to know the characters better, more fully understanding their mission, or they could be altogether taken out. It would have made for a much better movie. It had the promise, just not the ability to follow through.