Turning a book into a film can make the process of filmmaking easier, but it can also be a bit complicated in some circumstances. In spite of its benefits, Stephen King’s It perfectly illustrates why it can be hard sometimes. One of the main reasons why this book is so tough to tackle is that it’s 1,138 pages long. There’s so much stuff here that it had to be split into two each time it was turned into a movie (once for television and once on film).
With that being the case, the creators behind the big screen version had to figure out what to keep in, what to take out and what should be reshaped and reformed simply to have a chance of getting it to work. That’s normal in these instances, but this appears to be a more daunting task on the surface simply because there’s so much of source material. Overall, I think they got enough of it right, but I can’t say that I agreed with every one of their choices.
With it being the second of two movies, It Chapter Two jumps ahead 27 years as it continues the story that was established in 2017’s It. Since we last saw them, The Losers Club has split up and are living as adults away from Derry, Maine and everything in it. The only one who hasn’t left is Mike (Isaiah Mustafa). He stayed behind to learn as much as he could about the events they endured as children.
All has been quiet until recently when a couple of horrific occurrences took place in Derry. This leads Mike to believe that Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is back it again. He ends up calling everyone up and gets them to return for the final showdown to take on “the dancing clown.” In order to rid their hometown of this evil force once and for all, they know they’re going to go where they’ve never gone before. And to do that, they’ll also be forced to face the personal demons that they left behind all those years ago.
Predictably, my biggest gripe with It Chapter Two is the fact that it’s 2 hours and 49 minutes long. There are some scenes (and characters) that don’t really need to be here. They aren’t really bad or anything, but they’re almost always unnecessary. In the early going, I didn’t have much of a problem with this, but you end up feeling the length a bit after a while. This is especially true of the second act. If any one part should be directly pointed to as being unnecessarily long it’s this part of the movie.
This is where stripping things down more could have really benefited the film. As I watched, it was easy to see which parts should have been removed completely. In my opinion, you don’t even need to get rid of a large number of things. Just getting rid of a couple of parts of the story helps most of what’s left run smoother. If that happened, I’m guessing the movie is still around two hours, but it faster and doesn’t stick as much in certain areas.
As for the opening act, I surprisingly enjoyed it. I expected this part to be the slowest and most uninteresting, but it was actually one of the highlights of the film. One of the primary reasons for that is due to it being handled similar to the kind of first acts that you might usually find in non-horror movies. There are some scares and Pennywise makes his presence felt, but this portion of the movie lets us into the adult lives of the kids we met back in 2017.
This act (and the rest of the movie) works partially because of the transition from the kids to the adults is made seamlessly. Many of these guys who are playing the adult versions of these characters have picked up several personality traits that were established in the first film. This allows us to reconnect with the characters quickly as we catch up with them after moving on from where we last saw them.
And yes, we do have plenty of flashback scenes that go back to when these guys were just kids. While I did like some of it and I was happy to see them back again, this is one of the places where they could have thought about cutting things down a little. Some of these scenes were important to the overall development of the film, but at least a few of them could have been left out without changing or really harming anything.
Collectively, I think the cast was pretty strong. In fact, these characters being at the center of what’s happening is why It Chapter Two plays as well as it does. Without them (with Bill Hader being the main standout), this probably struggles a lot more and the weight of the length becomes more pronounced. There are also some conventional horror elements that keep things afloat as well. Combined, these factors make it all easier to digest than the average movie that’s way too long.
And since I’ve already spoken about the first two acts, I feel like I have to touch on the final act of It Chapter Two. Although this portion overstays its welcome to some degree as well, it actually moves fairly quickly. For the most part, I viewed this act positively, but it’s not perfect either. Without giving away anything, I’ll just point out that I would have liked a better ending to the final confrontation. It ultimately gets us to where we need to be, but I wish it would have concluded in a more logical manner.
If you find yourself being cool with the length of the movie, you may like this quite a bit. The characters are of good quality once again and the scares meet the standards set by its predecessor. Although it’s not what I would consider scary, the creepiness and deceptive nature of Pennywise still show themselves quite well and will likely get a legitimate reaction from plenty of people.
At its core, It Chapter Two is a traditional horror movie that tries to be more with a strong bit of assistance from its cast. They would have been smart to remove some of what’s here to serve up a more fluid experience, but the positives still manage to end up outweighing the negatives by the time we reach the end and the credits start to roll. At some point, I may eventually watch it again myself, but I’ll probably have to skip over a few scenes in order to do it.
Director: Andy Muschetti
Screenplay: Gary Dauberman
Jeremy Ray Taylor
Jack Dylan Grazer
Film Length: 169 minutes
Release Date: September 6th, 2019
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Score - 6.5/106.5/10