Published on October 13th, 2019 | by Craig Silliphant0
It: Chapter Two
Overlong and meandering, and without the coming-of-age story that propped up the first movie, It: Chapter Two is a ferociously tedious film to be endured.
Before we slip into the stinky sewer that is It: Chapter Two, I thought some quick context on my opinion of It: Chapter One might be in order. I can’t remember if I came up with this line myself or stole it from somewhere else, but it encapsulates my feelings about the movie perfectly: it’s a great coming of age movie that keeps getting interrupted by a mediocre horror movie. Nuff’ said.
It: Chapter Two has its moments, but it’s mostly an exhausting exercise in tedium. At around three hours, it takes the long way at every opportunity, right from the setup, which takes twice the time necessary to get the characters where they need to be — together and ready to fight Pennywise.
Then, they separate, because the plot, not any kind of logic, demands it. A character even points this out but hanging a lampshade on it doesn’t change its stupidity. Some of these individual scenes are okay, but together they are painful to endure. (Usually I make liberal use of a thesaurus when writing, but you’ll see words like ‘endure’ and ‘tedious’ come up a lot here). Then, after all of that, they get back together and do pretty much the same shit they did in the first movie.
A quick note on the comedy in the film — some of it is funny, and the cast is great, but it it’s not layered in well. I’m all for comedy and horror as excellent bedmates that compliment each other, but you often get a sense that these characters aren’t taking this killer alien fear-eating clown demon thing seriously. It also steps on a lot of the good themes they set up in the first film, like Beverly’s abuse at the hands of her dad (and not that I’m asking for there to have been a longer movie here, but they sure bury the whole story of her abusive husband. Why not just dump it altogether if they weren’t going to do anything with it? Anyway, I digress, much like this movie does constantly).
We suddenly learn that there were a bunch of incidents they didn’t bother to mention the first time around, like the Paul Bunyan attack. When the first movie came out, I thought it was a smart idea to break up the time periods instead of having them told concurrently, at least so they could break the dense source material into two pieces for theatrical release. I’ve changed my mind on that. Rewatching the original TV miniseries, where they jump back and forth in time, works much better for both story and suspense. And while I didn’t mind the efficiency of just telling the kids’ story in Chapter One, they’ve put both age brackets back in Chapter Two, trying to have their cake and eat it too. All these flashbacks serve to make the first movie sort of not matter. It causes Chapter Two to meander aimlessly, rudderless, like a little paper boat wandering through the gutters in the rain. And it doesn’t have the coming-of-age story that was at least enjoyable enough in the first movie, so there’s not much to cling to.
They’ve pulled back a bit on the cheesy “scares” and bad CGI that permeated the first movie, but a lot of the effects still suck in Chapter Two. It’s distracting and pulls you out of the movie; they look like video game cut scenes. When it’s a video game, you go, “Wow, great graphics. Hard to believe how far they’ve come since Pong!” But when The Thing, from 1982, still looks more realistic than what is supposed to be the ruling modern horror film, something is rotten.
I mentioned the comedy earlier — I will give them the jokes about the ending. In fact, a lot of the issues with the movies are inherent problems in the book, which was never one of my favourite King novels. While it has some undeniable scares and imagery, which is probably why it endures, the book was overlong, repetitive, and as they allude to — anti-climactic. I liked what they added to the story in Chapter Two to try and prop up that ending, and the climax in Chapter Two might have been decent — had it been half as long and an hour sooner.
In the end, I didn’t watch these movies, so much as I endured them. But I will say that this was pretty much the experience of reading the book, so, one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year, but, uh, adaptation successful? I guess?