by Philip Price
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy & Bill Hader
Runtime: 2 hours & 49 minutes
“IT: Chapter Two” is a film with great vision, while also being one that lacks focus.
This lack of an anchor, or heart - if you will - is the source of much frustration as it's clear director Andy Muschietti has great ambition for what he not only wants his adaptation to be, but represent; this is to be the modern day equivalent of “The Shining,” a Marvel-esque sized accomplishment in the horror genre, but while the mission is clear and the intent appreciated it seems Muschietti's bloated sequel to his 2017 introduction to the Losers Club bit off more than it could chew.
Rather than purely being the 27-year-later sequel, it was assumed to be, “IT: Chapter Two” largely operates in a fashion where the first, more endearing chapter, didn't have to exist. It's nice that it does and of the two is the better film, but this is because that movie - while still sprawling in its scope - didn't have to deal in two separate timelines, didn't have to fully dissect the characters, but more just plant the seeds for them and it didn't have to somehow shoehorn in a story about an ancient ritual that would defeat this cosmic entity that we come to know is Pennywise the dancing clown. In other words, Muschietti's predecessor had the ability to focus on its characters in both its heroes and its antagonist while developing the undesirable, but sometimes symbiotic relationship between the two.
In ‘Chapter Two,’ Muschietti and his editor, Jason Ballantine, never find the necessary groove to make everything the film is trying to accomplish flow with the comprehension necessary to lend the film that needed focus, that necessary anchor that gives the viewer something specific to latch onto so that it connects to - if not everything the film is trying to do - at least one thing that will make it feel more personal and therefore more haunting.
“IT: Chapter Two” is such a film of fits and starts that it's almost impossible to find any one thing to latch onto at all, but lucky for us ‘Chapter Two’ does in fact boast a game cast of adult Losers that make the jumbled narrative bearable while Muschietti's visual prowess remains on impressive display throughout.
Furthermore, Bill Skarsgård's performance as Pennywise is still gold, but even in this regard the filmmakers don't take as much advantage of the performance as they should - layering in CGI and not allowing Skarsgård's disturbing portrayal to truly breathe. Like a buffet plate that's loaded with everything that looked good, “IT: Chapter Two” ends up a pile of pieces with a single bite out of each-nothing fully digested leaving the consumer full, but not satisfied.