Movie review: It Chapter 2

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of a sequel to a movie that got me into horror movies (somewhat). This is It Chapter 2!

IMDb summary: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Writing

Gary Dauberman, the writer of the first It from 2017, penned the script for the sequel, once again, using the original material by Stephen King. After watching the first It, I went out and got myself a copy of It, the book. Even though it took me a solid 4 months to finish the 1000 page long novel, I did enjoy a lot of it (minus some weird and now infamous sex scenes). Thus, going into this film, I could predict a lot of the story beats, yet so much of the plot was also changed and, dare I say, for the better.

Stephen King’s cameo in the film, as well as his stand-in character’s demeanor (Bill’s) towards the critique of the story’s endings, tells me that King himself might be salty about fans’ complaints aimed at his ending. Yet, while I do think that his extremely supernatural ending to It (the turtle) is an interesting choice, I feel like it kinda betrays the psychological concepts of the whole novel. Thus, I quite enjoyed the film’s ending where it’s the characters’ strength of will and personal overcoming of fear that defeats Pennywise. At the same time, while these psychological concepts are present throughout the film, I do think that the first It did more in exploring them. Chapter 2 seemed to be more plot rather than idea-focused. While the ultimate topic of the film remained the same as in the first one – friendship and human connection – the movie did have a lot of narratives to cover. Not only did it have to tell the story of the adult characters but connect it to the arcs’ of the younger counterparts of the first movie. This seems like an insurmountable task and I feel like Chapter 2 (and the writer) did the best they could with the task. Yes, the movie was quite long and full off sidetracks involving separate characters reliving their memories. But could it have done without them? I don’t think so. The characters needed their solo times and to be developed further, especially when the cast of the movie was so stellar. You just kinda naturally want to give them a lot to do.

Directing

Andy Muschietti directed a follow-up to his own movie and did a good job. I don’t think he managed to create as tight of a final product like last time, but once again, like with the writing, I don’t think he ever could have topped the first film. Chapter 2 was quite long (almost 3h) and while it did start out really strong and had a nicely paced second act, I felt like the different stages (like in a video game) of the third act were quite obvious and made the finale feel a bit formulaic, less like it flowed naturally. The film as a whole did have a nice flow to it, though – I quite enjoyed the visual transitions between the different characters as well as timelines. On the horror side, It 2 had everything: some psychological suspense, some gore, and some jump scares. For horror purists, this might be too much of blend of all the different things, but for me as someone who appreciates horror movies at a distance, the mix of the different horror techniques was cool and just what I needed to feel both uneasy yet comfortable watching the film.

Acting

Both the child and adult casts were stellar. I don’t know whether the filmmakers originally planned on including the children actors in the second film but I’m glad that they did: the child-actors have proven themselves so much in the first film and have only gotten better in the second one, even if they had less to do. Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff all did a great job. The adult cast – both the big names like James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader and the lesser-knowns – Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, and Andy Bean (and this is a very subjective categorication btw) – did brilliantly. Not only did they look like the grown-up versions of the child actors but they truly acted like them too. My personal favorites were McAvoy and Hader. Bill Skarsgård came back as Pennywise and was amazing once again even though this time around he seemed to have fewer scenes. I feel like It Chapter 2 featured more of CGI Pennywise, with some of Skarsgård’s features (face or voice). The acting was truly the best part of the movie and saved or enhanced its other parts (mostly carried the writing).

In short, while not as good as the first film, It Chapter 2 carries the emotional weight of the first film that is sometimes lost in all the plot but found in abundance in the cast’s performances.

Rate: 3.8/5

Trailer: It Chapter 2 trailer

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Movie review: It

Movie reviews

Hello!

Let me start this review by saying that I don’t do horror films, especially at the cinema. BUT, since I wanted to christen my new unlimited cinema card and there were no other new releases, I decided to give It a chance. Plus, I have seen all the great reviews and didn’t want to miss out on the movie event of September if not the whole fall.

IMDb summary: A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.

Writing

It belongs to a wave of new smart horror movies (other members being Get Out and Split, both of which I watched – again, not a horror fan here, but I can make an exception for a great film). It owes its smartness to the source material – the beloved novel by Stephen King. And yet, the screenwriters Chase PalmerCary Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation), and Gary Dauberman (Annabelle films) should also be praised for taking a well-known property and adapting it to the big screen (other writers, who have adapted King’s works, proved that it doesn’t always turn out great). While I haven’t read the book, I knew some of the plot details and really liked the bold move of the scriptwriters to focus on just one time period. Before we see the adult side of the story in chapter 2, I will definitely read the book.

While It had stellar moments of horror (2 layers: the supernatural horror of Pennywise and the real-life horror of the abusive parents and the school bullies), the film ultimately was a story about this group of children ‘coming of age’. The movie did an absolutely brilliant job of setting them all up and there were 7 characters to set up! Some films can’t even make me care about their single lead, while, here, I was invested in the lives of a whole bunch of unfamiliar (to me, personally) characters. I also liked how the backstory of the plot (the exposition) was given as a part of the character development (those scenes told the viewer more about Derry as a town AND Ben as a person).

Speaking more about the children – I adored their dialogue and how unfiltered it was. A lot of the film’s jokes also steamed from it and landed most of the time. The preteen/teenage concepts, such as the first love (and the first jealousy), friendship, bullying, puberty, were neatly depicted and never wore too far into being cheesy rather than cute and relatable.  The depiction of fear as subjective and relating to one’s inner demons was so interesting too!

Directing

Andy Muschietti, who first rose to prominence with his directorial debut Mama, did a wonderful job with It. He paced the movie so well and masterfully built its suspense. He also made sure that It earned all of its jump scares. The visuals (cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung) and the music (soundtrack by Benjamin Wallfisch) worked amazingly together to create an uncomfortable yet super engaging sensory experience.

Muschietti should also be given props for directing a group of child actors so well. His decision – to keep Pennywise partially hidden or obscured for some of the runtime – also paid off: the clown was ten times scarier when you could only see his face or one eye. While his whole appearance made for a terrifying sight, the more of It one saw, the more he/she could have gotten used to it.

Acting

It had a brilliant cast of unknown and known child actors, whose performances were a pure delight to watch. Front and center was Jaeden Lieberher, who audiences might already know from Midnight Special or The Book of Henry. He did such an amazing job bringing the character of Bill to live and made that stutter seem believable and natural. Jeremy Ray Taylor (as Ben) and Molly Ringwald of this generation – Sophia Lillis (as Beverly) were also great. Stranger Things’ fans could spot Finn Wolfhard (as Richie) in the picture too. Here, he played the funny, talkative one – a contrasting role to one he plays on the Netflix show. Wyatt Oleff brought a slightly mysterious quality to Stan, Chosen Jacobs made for an extremely likable Mike, while Jack Dylan Grazer contributed to the comedy of the film as Eddie. His mom seemed to be suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy (Everything Everything looked at that illness already this year) or she might have just been way too overprotective.

Nicholas Hamilton also did a good job as the bully Henry Bowers, while the youngest member of the cast Jackson Robert Scott was great as the symbol of innocence (Georgie) during the opening of the picture. Lastly, how can I not mention Bill Skarsgård as It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown? While the costume and the makeup departments helped a lot to make Pennywise scary looking, Skarsgård’s performance was the most unsettling thing about the character. The actor was recently in Atomic Blonde, while his next project is also Stephen King related – its the web series Castle Rock.

In short, It was both terrifying and engaging. I, as a viewer, wanted to look away and couldn’t. The script was top-notch, the direction – amazing, while the performances of the cast just a huge cherry on top.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: It trailer

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