IT: CHAPTER 2 Spoiler-Free Review; "[It's Not] The Essential, Epic Conclusion Fans Hoped For"

It: Chapter 2 is now in theaters but does the sequel live up to that amazing first instalment? Unfortunately not, and you can find our spoiler-free verdict on the Stephen King adaptation right here...

It is arguably one of the greatest horror movies of all-time and a fantastic adaptation of Stephen King's lengthy novel (a rarity in Hollywood). Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the bloated sequel which tries too hard to capture the magic of that first instalment while too often neglecting the adult version of the Losers' Club. That 80s charm is gone this time around, and what we're left with is a movie that feels far too bland to make the same sort of impact as the first. 

Nearly three hours in length, It: Chapter 2 doesn't fly by the same way Avengers: Endgame did earlier this year, and there's so much here that could and should have been cut, it's hard to figure out why the movie is that long anyway. Far too much time is devoted to the young Losers' Club thanks to a rehash of similar but slightly different sequences of them being terrorised by Pennywise during their childhood which we conveniently didn't see in the first movie and that they're only now just remembering. It's almost as if Warner Bros. didn't have any faith in the adult cast being able to capture the magic from the first chapter so the kids (most of whom look pretty bizarre thanks to the special effects used to de-age them) are given way too much screentime at the expense of the present day storyline. 

Major plot points (such as the return of Henry Bowers) are glossed over relatively quickly and have little impact, while way too much time is spent on a confusing mythology and silly MacGuffin rather than the genuine scares and inventive ideas which peppered It. Too much of the horror here feels like a rehash of what we've seen before, and it's simply not that scary as a result. There are some genuinely great sequences and jump scares here and there, but Pennywise pulls out too many of the same tricks and just doesn't seem to be anywhere near as threatening; he never comes across as demented or twisted as the last time we saw him, and Muschietti really needed to pull out the stops here in order to top his 2017 appearance.

It's the performances which save the day here, though, and Bill Hader absolutely steals the show as the adult Richie. Despite the humour often feeling very out of place (and making Pennywise feel even less threatening that he already does), it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role and this performance promises to put the actor back on the map in a big way. James McAvoy (Bill) is also excellent, while Jessica Chastain (Beverly) is fine, but probably not as great as the fans who spent the past few years fan casting her in the role hoped. Between this and Dark Phoenix, 2019 really hasn't been her year. As for Bill Skarsgård, his Pennywise performance is as iconic as ever and it's just a shame he's mostly forced to repeat what's come before rather than being able to flesh out this villain in a significant way. Sadly, he winds up coming across as just another two-dimensional horror movie baddie for the most part. 

Light on tension and a strong script, It: Chapter 2 fails to live up to its predecessor, and while it's often faithful to King's novel, it sadly falls into the same trappings the second half of that lengthy tome did so many years ago. There's fun to be had here, but it's far too long and wastes too much time, leaving moviegoers more concerned with checking their watches than becoming completely engrossed by what's happening on screen. As King adaptations go, it's not exactly a disaster and it certainly has its moments (including a final battle which definitely improves on the source material). but this isn't the follow-up that Chapter 1 deserved. 

Andy Muschietti has assembled a terrific cast to battle Pennywise in the present day, but a muddled and meandering plot bogs the follow-up down and stops It: Chapter 2 from being the essential, epic conclusion fans hoped for. 

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