‘It: Chapter Two’ Movie Review – Endin’ the Clown

When a movie like It: Chapter One becomes a phenomenon, inevitably people may be disappointed with the sequel. It’s not like It: Chapter Two is a cash grab though. It’s still the second half of Stephen King’s book and I thought It: Chapter Two captured everything that was great about Chapter One, adding a new layer making it even better.

Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in ‘It: Chapter Two’ | Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

‘It: Chapter Two’ adds one more element to the story

It: Chapter Two continues everything that worked in It but delves deeper into what those events mean 27 years later. There are still cool Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) scares and camaraderie between the characters. As adults, those characters now have history to deal with, adding another layer of depth to their second confrontation with the evil force they call It. 

27 years later, all the kids from Derry have left town, except for Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) who calls them all and asks them to return. The beginning of It: Chapter Two has a whole “getting the gang back together” feeling that really works as a new introduction. 

It: Chapter Two
L-R: James Ransone, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan and Isaiah Mustafa in It: Chapter Two | Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Most sequels have to catch up with each of the main characters after whatever time has passed, except for those rare sequels that start literally the moment after. For It: Chapter Two, when we meet the characters as adults it feels like the beginning of a new story, more so than the middle of a five-hour story. 

‘It: Chapter Two’ recaptures the magic, but acknowledges the gap

The kids in It: Chapter One had great chemistry, so the new actors have the daunting task of recapturing that. Perhaps if the characters had stayed in touch for the ensuing 27 years, one might expect a deeper connection, but these feel like the same kids, with the same inside jokes, and they pick up in the same way adults do at reunions. 

James McAvoy gets Bill’s stutter, Jessica Chastain can embody the walls Beverly puts up, Jay Ryan shows Eddie still feels unlovable even though he grew out of his childhood body, James Ransone captures Eddie’s hypochondria and other anxiety and Isaiah Mustafa can show Mike’s obsession with the monster he faced as a child. 

It: Chapter Two
L-R: James McAvoy, Jay Ransone, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan in It: Chapter Two | Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Remember, the actual kids who became friends making It are still kids. The adult cast never had that experience, and most of the actors probably never worked together before. If anything, the adults are not quite as naughty as the rambunctious ‘80s kids, although Richie (Bill Hader) still makes mom jokes and drops F-bombs. The banter between the characters totally translates into their adult counterparts.

‘It: Chapter Two’ is also ‘It: Chapter 1.5’

The young characters still factor into It: Chapter Two so we get to revisit moments in between scenes of the first movie so that the new scenes don’t contradict any of the events we saw. Transitions back to 1989 and returning to present-day also work smoothly so we can always follow the passage of time. 

The premise of children having a scary adventure together may be more universal. It’s like our childhood, and the movies we watched as children so more people can relate to that. I relate to that because I remember childhood too, but I’ve also lived a life since then. Now I can relate to Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike and Eddie trying to make sense of their past with all the coping mechanisms they learned later in life. That may not be as easy a sell as It: Chapter One, but it’s deeper. 

It: Chapter Two
L-R: Jessica Chastain, Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan in It: Chapter Two | Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Each adult has to find a token from their youth in order to perform the ritual that will finally defeat It. That means each character goes on a fun side quest for their token, in which Pennywise shows up to try to scare them. The tokens are the business of the plot but the specific items aren’t what’s important. It: Chapter Two asks us how we all deal with wounds we tried to protect and the people you’ve left behind. 

A nightmare on Niebolt St.

For the scary stuff, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) has all new manifestations in It: Chapter Two. He’s sort of like a Freddy Krueger who can create any sort of nightmare magic he wants based on each character’s individual fears. Freddy and Pennywise, of course, have unique styles, but what both Stephen King and Wes Craven were exploring was how it’s really our own fears we have to face, whatever form the boogyman takes.

L-R: Bill Hader and James Ransone in It: Chapter Two

It: Chapter Two has some good ones though. Visual effects can elongate people so they look more surreal than a regular prosthetic makeup would. When Pennywise is CGI, he still does the dangling arms like Skarsgard does. You’ll never hear the song “Angel of the Morning” the same way again. 

There will always be an It

It: Chapter Two takes us to the end of Stephen King’s 1100 page novel, but hear me out. You can still do It: 2046. Pennywise will have to contend with flying cars in space with aliens. It pretty much writes itself. 

Even Stephen King wrote a sequel to The Shining, and the movie adaptation Doctor Sleep is due out in a few months. If this really is the end of It (and it would be the first time a horror franchise ever truly ended. See Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, etc.), It concludes with a poignant tale of reconciling your past.