The most impressive thing about It: Chapter One wasn’t Pennywise but The Losers Club. The natural chemistry, strong dynamic, authentic bond & seamless rapport that the child actors shared with one another and articulated on screen is what made us invest in them & their predicament in the first place. And then, the finely executed horror bits & wicked clown act from Bill Skarsgård uplifted the whole film up by a notch further. It was funny, fresh & frightening, and provided a sturdy platform for the next instalment. It: Chapter Two brings the journey of The Losers Club to its conclusion. However, the film is unable to duplicate the smart, sophisticated & satisfying experience that its predecessor offered in spades.
Set 27 years after the events of the previous chapter, It: Chapter Two finds all The Losers Club members grown up, separated from one another & settled in their own professions with little to no recollection of the trauma they endured following their encounter with the shape-shifting & child-killing demonic entity in their youth. But when Mike, the only one who stayed back in Derry, learns that Pennywise has returned, he calls & summons everyone back home to honour the blood pact they all made after defeating the evil first time around. But in order to kill the monster for good, the band must first conquer their deepest fears by going down the memory lane to remember their last summer together, and must do it before Pennywise returns to his slumber.
Directed by Andy Muschietti, Chapter Two attempts to follow Stephen King’s novel more closely but there are several moments in the final print that are unnecessarily stretched, thus resulting in an overlong & bloated narrative whose runtime is severely felt. Chapter One was exclusively about the kids. Chapter Two follows them as adults as they return to Derry for one final stand, and also includes flashbacks to events that transpired 27 years prior. The first act is actually interesting, plus The Loser Club reunion has the same vibe that their younger selves did. But once the main plot is set into motion, things only head downhill as Muschietti loses his grip on our attention, is unable to utilise the resources properly this time, and delivers a rather inferior product.
Clocking at nearly 3 hours, what makes the ride difficult to sit through is the inconsistent pace, in addition to several moments the story could have done without or at least fasten up the process. Another worry is its attempts to scare, majority of which fall flat or seem silly & childish in comparison to the last entry. While there is a sense of dread evident in the earlier moments, it isn’t capitalised upon later as Muschietti resorts to dumb & cheap horror tricks that come off as laughable & absurd. There are moments when it recreates the first film’s nightmare as evident in a couple of scenes involving Pennywise & its prey but for the most part, the horror aspect is dumbed down. As for the final showdown the saga had been building up towards, it does not live up to the hype either.
The only element that retains much of its flair & sharpness is the humour aspect, at least to a greater extent than others, and most of the credit for that goes to Bill Hader, playing the adult version of the same character Finn Wolfhard impressed us with a couple years back. The banter between Hader & James Ransone is on the same line of what Wolfhard & Jack Dylan Grazer pulled off so that is a definite plus. Jessica Chastain takes the role of Beverly yet she surprisingly isn’t as compelling as Sophia Lillis was. In all honesty, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan & Isaiah Mustafa are also unable to outshine their young counterparts in their respective roles of Bill, Ben & Mike. As for the eponymous demon, Bill Skarsgård does all he can to keep his character’s creepy, demented & fiendish side in tact but it isn’t enough.
On an overall scale, It: Chapter Two fails to make the most of the strong foundation that was provided to it by the previous film, and is an occasionally thrilling & intermittently entertaining follow-up that neither lives up to its hype nor unlocks its full potential. An underwhelming sequel that falls short in a lot many things the last instalment excelled at, it is a disappointing mess that’s lacking the imagination in its scares, creativity in its approach, and sincerity in its craftsmanship. Andy Muschietti’s direction is awful here, there is no other way to put it. In addition to that, the story does nothing to earn its 169 minutes runtime. Chapter One was no genre masterpiece but it was brought to life with heart, passion & honesty which made it soar. Chapter Two, unfortunately, is simply dull, meandering & barely manages to float. What a shame!