The Movie Waffler New Release Review - IT: CHAPTER TWO | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - IT: CHAPTER TWO

it chapter two review
The Losers' Club returns to Derry when Pennywise resurfaces.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

Starring: Bill SkarsgΓ₯rd, Finn Wolfhard, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Sophia Lillis, Bill Hader, Xavier Dolan, James Ransone

it chapter two poster


2017's It, an adaptation of the first half of Stephen King's weighty tome, arrived as part of a wave of movies and TV shows designed to exploit nostalgia for the pop culture of the 1980s. Its successor, It: Chapter Two, exists primarily to exploit nostalgia for its two-year-old predecessor. While it jumps forward to 2016 and introduces us to the now adult former members of The Losers' Club, much of the running time is devoted to their childhood selves, thanks to some hit and miss de-aging FX designed to make 15-year-old actors look like their 13-year-old selves (Jeremy Ray Taylor, who I guess lost weight in between the two shoots, now looks like a marshmallow floating above a torso that's suspiciously slimmer than it appeared in the first movie).


it chapter two review

Remember how TV shows would occasionally have an episode where a main character fell into a coma and the rest of the cast sat around reminiscing through a selection of clips from previous episodes? Well that's a lot like how It: Chapter Two plays out, except the clips here are brand new yet come off as second-rate retreads of the set-pieces from the first movie, as though we're watching deleted scenes from one movie shoe-horned into its sequel. The movie's middle portion sees each of the the adult Losers - now returned to their childhood home of Derry, Maine when Pennywise (Bill SkarsgΓ₯rd) resurfaces and embarks on another killing spree - recall a moment of childhood trauma inflicted by the clown. With six protagonists in total (the seventh is absent, having fallen victim to an anti-semitic trope), these flashbacks take up roughly an hour of this nearly three hour film. And they're all redundant - why create suspense scenes around child characters who we know survived because we're now watching them as adults? Not to mention how in the first film, Pennywise employed the kids' unique fears when terrorising them, but here it's mostly just generic terrors, as though director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman forgot this key detail.

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Despite a running time of 170 minutes, It: Chapter Two fails to flesh out its now adult protagonists beyond an introductory getting-the-band-back-together sequence that feels transposed from Michael Bay's Armageddon. The movie's most effective scene comes when they all meet up at a Chinese restaurant in Derry for their initial reunion. There's something genuinely touching about seeing these six people slip back into their old ways and reignite childhood rapport, with the mock-abrasive banter between joker Richie (Bill Hader) and hypochondriac Eddie (James Ransone) initially charming until the film pushes it too far into the realms of parody.


it chapter two review

Too much time is spent with the Losers in their childhood form, and none of it adds anything to the first film, rather it just covers the same ground. The movie's overlong climax is practically a retread of that of the first movie, and we're left wondering if Chapter Two ever really needed to exist. The vast amount of time devoted to reminding us of the 2017 movie might have been better served fleshing out the movie's setting. As with the first movie, Derry never feels like a real place here, and aside from a sequence set during a high school baseball game, we never get the sense that there's any sort of community existing beyond whatever patch of land our protagonists happen to be stood in. Kids and young people are being murdered left, right and centre in this small town, but it doesn't seem to have any impact on the community the way the shark attacks in Jaws or the presence of a vampire in Tobe Hooper's Salem's Lot did.

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Amping up the cheap laugh factor, It: Chapter Two often comes off like a parody of the first movie, the Scary Movie to the 2017 film's Scream. Scenes that have the potential for tension and suspense are derailed by the filmmakers' insistence on injecting Dad humour, none more so than an embarrassingly awful moment involving a creature vomiting on germaphobe Eddie while the soundtrack ironically blasts Juice Newton's 'Angel of the Morning', a set-piece that arrives after an interaction with a senile, farting pharmacist. Elsewhere we get distracting nudge-nudge cameos from Stephen King as an antiques dealer and Peter Bogdanovich as himself. There's a running fat-shaming gag about Eddie having married an overweight woman, which pisses all over the good work the first movie did in terms of representation of people who look like...well, like most Americans actually do in real life. But for this John Carpenter fan, the movie's most offensive moment arrives in the form of a scene that cheaply pilfers an unforgettable moment from The Thing, complete with its "You gotta be fucking kidding me!" coda. If Carpenter can successfully sue the filmmakers of Lockout for ripping off Escape from New York, his lawyers have a clear cut case here.


it chapter two review

What makes the awful comedy of It: Chapter Two all the worse is that it's shoe-horned into a movie about a child murderer, and the effect is as jarring as dropping Chucky into Don't Look Now. Muschietti's film features some of the darkest imagery seen in a mainstream horror movie in quite some time. Within the first half hour we've witnessed a brutal homophobic attack, a woman beaten savagely by her abusive husband and a killing of a child that sees Pennywise exploit their insecurities in a fashion that's difficult to watch. There's something cheaply exploitative about how it victimises the most vulnerable of our society - women, gays and children - without giving them any agency or redemptive reprisals. But yeah, fart gags.

It: Chapter Two is in UK/ROI cinemas September 6th.


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