The second and final chapter of ‘IT‘ brings the adult renderings of Stephen King’s kid heroes to the forefront some 27 years later in ‘IT: Chapter 2‘, that stars Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy. This sequel runs in at three hours alone, making the two films over five hours long. Director Andy Muschietti has even said there is a 6.5-hour super-cut of the movie, which leads me to ask why this wasn’t released on a streaming format, due to its episodic nature and extensive time run. Still, this second chapter is entertaining enough but suffers from major flaws in pacing, redundancy, and trying to over-complicate things.
The horrifying monster that is able to shape-shift into your worst nightmare, but is usually disguised as a sinister clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) was defeated by the young losers Club in the first film that took place in 1989. After the kids won the day, they made a promise to get back together again should “It” ever come back. Now that 27 years have gone by, “It” is back and the Losers Club must come back and fight.
It’s not as easy as it sounds though since only one of the Losers (Mike) has stayed in Derry, Maine for last three decades, studying “It” and his history and waiting for children to go missing. After a horrific incident in Derry, Mike makes the numerous phone calls to his long lost friends who have all moved many miles away across the country and have forgotten about their promise and the atrocities of the killer clown. After a reunion dinner with the now-grown Losers Club, the terror begins as Muschietti brings us on the exact same horror path as “IT: Chapter 1“, where we follow each individual grown-up face their fear with Pennywise or some other monster.
Again, Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman (the worst ‘Conjuring‘ spinoff movies) devote long periods of time to introducing the new characters one-by-one in the same fashion as the previous version, as well as confront their nightmares. This grows tiresome quick and becomes exhausting and seems to never end. The movie tries to focus on the older Bill again (McAvoy), but his character is inconsequential other than that he feels this is all his fault from the death of his young brother Georgie that rainy afternoon by the sewer drain.
It would’ve been nice to explore Mike’s character more as he has been studying the evil clown for many years, or even Beverly since she was under IT’s hypnotic spell in the last film. That’s simply not the case. In addition to that, Muschietti seems to have just added scenes to try and terrify us just to garner cheap scares. These scenes bloat the movie and never forward the story or characters. Another gripe I have is that Pennywise the Clown isn’t the clown for a lot of the movie. Instead, he shape-shifts into CGI versions of lepers, naked old ladies, or other odd-looking monsters. I found myself wanting to shout at the filmmakers and say, “Look, the clown gets the job done. He’s scary enough.”
But when “IT: Chapter 2” works, it completely earns it. The gore and violence is hardcore and never shies away from showing a death, even that of a child. It’s bloody to a maximum. Also, the casting of the adults is spot on, from their personality traits to their physical mannerisms and look. It’s uncanny, to say the least where I think the casting director should get an award. Bill Hader definitely steals the show as the adult Richie, making us laugh in every scene. James Ransone plays the older Eddie who still sports the asthma inhaler and is pitch-perfect. Ransone is mostly known as Ziggy Sobotka from HBO’s ‘The Wire’. And when Skarsgard is on camera as Pennywise, he is at his most sadistic and it’s extremely bone-chilling. It’s just too bad he isn’t front and center for long.
I know this film adaptation of “IT” is extremely hard to please fans. With this sequel, they doubled the cast, because we still get scenes with the young kids, which can be a messy maze of trying to tell a story. Muschietti finds the path to navigate between stories easily and makes an entertaining film here and there, but the meaningful or emotional actions and characters never reach their top peak to make us care about them because the film is too long and full of unnecessary excess sequences.
‘IT: Chapter 2‘ has some golden moments of horror and comedy, but it comes at an exhaustive and taxing price.
IT: Chapter 2 scares up a fantastic looking 4K UHD transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Both the rich color palette and vivid detail look excellent in this horror sequel.
Colors are bold and always striking in each scenario. From the bright and warm sunny exteriors to the dark, dank hallways underground where evil is lurking. The Dolby Vision enhances each color with well-balanced saturation. The scene at the Chinese restaurant has a wonderful glow of red with green sea life in the background that mixes perfectly with the more neutral tones of the table and wardrobe. Pennywise’s makeup is intensely bright with red and white colors bursting on screen, with hints of orange that looks like fire. Other shots in dark corners are cooler with greens, blues, and silvers that all look decayed. Black levels are always deep and inky with no evidence of crush. Skin tones are always natural as well. There is so much blood in the film and it all looks wonderfully gory with the perfect amount of red coloring. It’s gooey for sure.
The detail is super sharp and strong in every sequence, especially in darker lit scenes. You’ll be able to see the crusty white makeup on the clown, facial pores, gory wounds, and the detailed stitching in the costumes. Wider shots also reveal strong elements in the buildings and props, even the bubbles of blood throughout the film. There are a lot of visual effects in the film, none of which look bad or fake. The detail in these sequences always looks wonderful. Lastly, there were no major video issues with the picture.
This release comes with a fantastic Dolby Atmos track that sounds incredible on all fronts. The sound effects are loud, robust and constant. They are all haunting and in your face, just like any horror film should be. The major showdown in the finale has all of the necessary debris falling, people stepping on rocks, screams, and more from all angles. This is where a ton of the height speakers come in as Pennywise grows large at this moment
Every sound effect is precise and well-executed with great directionality that fully immerses you into this horrific world. The score and music in the film always add to the suspense and terror of the moment while not drowning out any other aspect. The bass kicks into high gear often and has a nice rumble to it. Lastly, the dialogue is clear and free of any problems that would hinder this superb Dolby Atmos presentation. I would even go as far as to say this is a reference-quality horror film in the audio department.
There is about 101 minutes of bonus features not including the audio commentary track. I love how these extras aren’t split up into one thousand separate pieces. Instead, it all flows perfectly and is super fun to watch. Even though some of the talk and behind the scenes overlap with the same discussions, it’s still one of the better bonus feature collections out there.
Audio Commentary – Director Andy Muschietti delivers another dry yet informative commentary track, discussing the tone, themes, and hidden easter eggs in the film. There are some funny moments and some surprise information, like how Guillermo Del Toro almost appeared in the film.
The summers of IT Chapter One: You’ll Float Too (HD, 36 Mins.) – A deep dive into the making of Part 1 of the film with informative and fun interviews with the cast and crew, along with a ton of behind the scenes footage. This extra was on the first film’s release but split into separate features.
The Summers of IT Chapter Two: IT Ends (HD, 40 Mins.) – More or less the same solid behind the scenes footage along with excellent interviews with the cast and crew, but with the added new adult characters, which are super fun to watch. Definitely worth your time.
Pennywise Lives Again (HD, 10 Mins.) – This focuses on Pennywise the character and the actor who played him on how he came back to play the iconic villain, and how he transformed into Pennywise itself.
This Meeting of the Losers’ Club Has Officially Begun (HD, 8 Mins.) – The young kids of the film and their older version all talk about coming aboard the film, meeting, and having a great time.
Finding the Deadlights (HD, 7 Mins.) – Stephen King is front and center here talking about his book and the adaptation to film.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
IT: Chapter Two might have some issues in its length and redundancy, but there are enough good things about it to make me want to watch and appreciate it even more so. It’s a great adaptation from one of the scariest and most intense books ever written. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the Dolby Vision video presentation are both top-notch and maybe even demo-worthy. The bonus features are plentiful and highly entertaining. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!