Film Review- It: Chapter 2 (spoiler-free)
There is so much to like about this film. I have a few things that I didn’t like, and one nitpick that shouldn’t matter but it bugs me. Let me start with the good stuff, though, and I’ll sprinkle in the stuff I didn’t really like, without revealing any spoilers because the movie just premiered.
The casting for the adult versions of the Loser’s Club is perfectly done. Bill Hader as the adult Richie Tozier was not only a great choice but one that was championed by Finn Wolfhard, who plays teenage Richie. Hader gives one of the best performances of his career and makes you feel real emotion. This is no more evident than in a couple of scenes where Richie is put in a situation where he has to show emotion (I know this is vague but I do not want to spoil anything), including the reunion scene in the Chinese restaurant. That particular scene really made it seem like these were people who were friends as kids reuniting after nearly three decades catching up and remembering good times. James Ransone as adult Eddie Kaspbrak was equally as good. I’m not nearly as familiar with him as I am with say, James McAvoy or Jessica Chastain, but I’m now a fan. He was excellent and really mirrored his younger version (Jack Dylan Grazer) in an amazing way, right down to certain mannerisms.
There are a lot of scenes that fans of the book, like myself, were hoping to see. Some of these scenes were included but in very different ways. Maturin, the Ritual of Chüd, and Adrian Mellon are all included in this film, but not the way book fans might expect them to be. There are also a lot of changes for the reasons behind certain scenes as well, but the way they were changed makes sense to the plot, even if they are not quite faithful recreations of the same scenes in the book. The final confrontation with Pennywise is also much different from what book fans might be expecting as well.
There’s a lot of flashbacks and this film marks the first time kids in a horror film had to be digitally de-aged due to that fact. The first part of this film was released just about two years ago, and teenagers tend to be drastically different from say age thirteen to fifteen. Honestly, though, I didn’t even notice it and if I hadn’t read about it I wouldn’t have known. However, certain aspects of the plot that were incredibly important were ignored completely. Tom and Audra’s storylines were completely abandoned aside from scenes showing that they did, indeed, exist. Book fans will know what I mean, and if you didn’t read the book than it won’t matter to you. Also, Henry Bowers could be completely taken from this film and it would have minimal impact. That was frustrating as a book fan, knowing what I know about that plotline.
Overall I really liked the movie. They made certain changes that made sense in the context of the story, but what they did to certain characters to motivate them was at times frustrating. A couple of these changed stemmed from the way they did the first film and had to be kept for continuity’s sake. Although there were a couple of changes in the first movie, like Mike Hanlon’s storyline being given to Ben Hanscom, only to have the book plot put back into place. If you’re going to swap character story arcs, then stick with it, don’t go back and forth. One thing that bothers me is when little things that can be easily checked are overlooked. For example, on the marquee of the movie theater, passersby are informed that the movie playing is A Nightmare on Elm Street 5. That is factually correct – it came out in 1989 when the first chapter is set. However, we also see a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet at the theater, but that game didn’t come out until 1992 and it was explicitly stated that the kids all went their separate ways shortly after their first confrontation with Pennywise and hadn’t all been together in 27 years. Stuff like that bugs me.
Another small thing was when Bill (James McAvoy) buys his old bike from the second-hand shop and yells the line book fans will recognize, “Hi-yo Silver, away!” which is the line the Lone Ranger yells as he gallops away on his horse, Silver, in the television show that ran from 1947 – 1957. It made sense that book Bill would yell this, as he grew up in the 50s and watched that program. In 1989 it would have been much more likely that Bill would have been a fan of a different program and yelled that catchphrase. It would have made more sense for him to yell “I have the power!” or “Thundercats, ho!” (especially since Eddie wore a Thundercats shirt). Even “It’s showtime, Synergy!” would have made more sense than to yell a catchphrase from a show that Bill in all likelihood never watched.
These are all small issues I had with the movie and it should be in no way construed that I did not enjoy the film immensely. I saw it on Thursday when it opened and I am going to the drive-in tomorrow to see both films back to back. Had I not enjoyed it, this would certainly not be happening. There were a few little winks at the audience regarding some important lines from the book that were pretty seamlessly added in and fit with the context of the scenes where they can be found, and an homage to one of my favorite films, The Thing that was genuinely unsettling. I enjoyed this movie and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the first one, the 1990 miniseries or the book. There are some good scares and some excellent acting. As a whole (because this isn’t really a sequel, it’s a continuation) I think this might be the best Stephen King adaptation ever.