I kicked off the year doing catch up for the films I missed in 2019. Truth be told, I was really looking forward to catching It Chapter 2 in the cinemas but its screening time in local theaters (owing to its 3 hour run time) always made it too early or too late to watch given my work schedule. Luckily, I’ve managed to see it on video to pick up where Andy Muschietti’s version of The Losers Club left off.
Synopsis: The grown up versions of The Losers Club get a call from Mike, asking them all to come back home to Derry. He is certain that Pennywise is back and the losers must fulfill their pact to stop him before more kids fall prey to his evil.
I must say that there were pretty big names in the grown up cast of It Chapter 2 which included James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, and Bill Skarsgard. While all of the actors looked perfect for their roles, I must say that the ones who impressed me the most with their portrayal were the lesser known actors like Jay Ryan (Beauty and the Beast TV series) and James Ransone who played Ben and Eddie.
I’ve watched Jeremy Ray Taylor in several movies (I’ve seen Goosebumps 2 multiple times because of my nephew) and I must say that Jay Ryan really did his homework on playing the adult version of Ben. From Jeremy’s manner of speaking to his mannerisms, Jay nailed every aspect of the young actor and the character giving his portrayal a different level of consistency. His uncertainty and innocence as well as his love for Bev was written all over his face with every sequence but despite looking hot, he really had that insecure vibe that the young actor had in the first installment.
James Ransone not only looked like adult Eddie, he sounded and acted like the younger version, played by Jack Dylan Grazer. The way he talked, the way he moved, kudos to Ransone for really nailing the part.
Bill Hader and James McAvoy also did justice to their roles but I was a bit iffy about Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of Bev, the only female member of the Losers Club. Younger Bev (played by Sophia Lillis) may have been a victim of abuse but she had courage in spades, making her one of the ringleaders of their little crew. Adult Bev became such a mouse and spoke in an unnatural way that may have been intended to channel the young girl’s innocence but it felt more awkward than genuine.
I think It Chapter 2 did well in making the sequel as consistent with the first movie as possible. It employed long shots so the difference in the kids’ heights werent quite as obvious. It also delivered on the jump scares as expected.
Contrary to the first film, Bill Skarsgard had more lines and more scenes as Pennywise in the sequel. However, instead of making the character more scary, it seemed to negate yhe mysterious unknown terror he brought when he simply lurked around and looked menacing. Overall, I wasn’t scared by this film at all, perhaps because it took too long to lay its groundwork, perhaps because the first film was so good that the bar was set too high for the sequel.
I felt at times that because there were a lot of big stars in addition to the kiddie cast that fans have come to love (Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff), filmmakers felt compelled to give each cast member, young and old, an equal amount of screentime. This was why audiences had to go through six separate scenes in every part of the story before actually coming face to face with Pennywise in the final showdown.
All in all, It Chapter 2 was consistent with the original and delivered on a well executed horror movie. However, it was inferior to the original in so many ways. It was a passable horror movie but nowhere near the greatness of the first installment. Perhaps, the pressure of the positive reviews for It Chapter 1 was the problem but the sense of wonder and adventure was absent in this film as it went through the motions but achieved none of the emotional impact that the kids established. A for effort, though.