Menagerie Menagerie Feature

Rant and Rave—It: Chapter Two

Two years since the first half of the It duology hit theaters, It: Chapter Two comes to the silver screen to complete the adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel. This final chapter carries weight behind each story beat, making every step taken toward its end feel terrifying and daunting as it is approached by the heroes that audiences had fallen in love with in 2017’s It.

The Losers’ Club

The film would not work as well as it does if the adult versions of the children introduced in the first film felt like completely different characters, devoid of the charm and charisma the children brought that made them so likable. The casting for each character is nothing short of phenomenal; every single character feels like a natural evolution of where they were left off in the first movie. It certainly helps that each member of the cast for the second chapter are fantastic actors in their own right. A-listers like James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain have brought to this film nothing short of their best performances. 

A standout among the cast of the “Losers” is Bill Hader, who delivers some of the best dialogue and moments in the film, as he manages to nail the fine line between comedy and drama in a very impressive outing.

However, similar to the first film, Bill Skarsgård is the key factor bringing the whole movie together. With Pennywise at the center of the story, one of the audience’s main reasons to see the film is to bear witness to this iconic character being brought to life by a wonderful performer in Skarsgård. The actor embraces the deranged, insane nature of the demonic persona he portrays, and puts forth a performance that will no doubt stand the test of time and define one of the horror genre’s most quintessential figures for years to come.

You’ll float too

Despite the exceptional cast, the film is inherently one that is flawed—and this is no surprise, given that the source material they had to adapt spanned over a thousand pages. When adapting books into feature length films, it’s always a struggle to decide what to cut and what to keep. One can imagine the difficulty of adapting one of Stephen King’s most iconic novels; however, the fact that so much was cut from the book and that the resulting film still spans three hours is perhaps an indication that certain creative decisions were a tad questionable.

Films such as Avengers: Endgame and entries in the Lord of the Rings franchise have films that dance close to the three hour mark as well, but It: Chapter Two is unlike those films in that the length of the film takes a toll on its audience. The movie drags and slogs itself from thrill to thrill, putting in such difficult and tiring transitions between every jolt of fright. There are truly some moments and characters in the film that feel superfluous and misplaced, as if they belonged to some other film. The pacing here is some of the worst put to screen this year, and there are times when the story really threatens to put watchers to sleep. This is unacceptable for what is supposedly a film meant to strike fear.

For what it’s worth, the film does have a number of good scares layered throughout the story. The film sequences that explore character motivations and history in detail are some of the most fear-inducing, as they threaten to break and tear apart the characters that audiences have come to love.

Nonetheless, the movie still has an unhealthy reliance on jumpscares to generate fear from the audience. It’s a cheap gag that hindered the first film and continues to do so here. Maybe for a moment, you’re terrified as an audience member, but the fear does not linger—perhaps the greatest sign of a second-rate scare tactic.

An ending of sorts

Despite It: Chapter Two’s flaws, at its core lies a heartfelt story of what it means to be afraid. The theme of fear is one that is heavily touched on in Stephen King’s classic, and the movie is very faithful to that. On display here is what it means to be clawed at by personal demons, and to be shackled by unique forms of guilt and trauma that all people undergo. At the same time, it is a reminder of how powerful people really are and can be in the face of all that is terrifying. 

It: Chapter Two begs the question of what it means to face our fears instead of feigning ignorance to them. As much as it is a story about what frightens us, it is a story about love, courage, and friendship. The film is at its strongest when it shifts its focus to these themes, reminding us that it’s normal to be afraid, and that the uncertainty that many may have experienced in times long gone may never fully go away.

As strangely congratulatory as the film can be of itself at times, It: Chapter Two does its job in providing a conclusive ending to the story first retold in 2017. An immensely talented cast shines at the heart of everything the film gets right, and a heartfelt story is woven with the use of the film’s characters. It’s not as good as the first entry in the two-part adaptation, but It: Chapter Two provides a fitting conclusion that compliments 2017’s It to a T.

Rating: 2.5/4

By Westin Perez

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