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IT: Chapter Two Review | Escape to the Movies

Well, Steve… the good news is; now that
you tried, the miniseries tried and now the movies tried, it’s pretty clear: It was not just you
– no one can figure out a good ending for this. IT is considered one of Stephen King’s most
iconic works in part because it’s so utterly representative of his most signature authorial
conceits: A clever juxtaposition of mind bending supernatural and/or cosmic horror story with grounded
mundane Americana story , richly drawn three-dimensional characters, terrifying descriptions of both scary situations and the psychological state of being scared by them, a memorable antagonist
that burns themself into your psyche… …and also a monstrously bloated page count,
gratuitous to the point of parody world building that often doesn’t really go nowhere, idiosyncratic digressions into personal fixation and fetishism that continuously distract and “big reveal” endings
to multi-layered what-the-hell-is-going-on mystery that arrive ultimately with a “…that’s
it?” or a “…the hell is wrong with this guy??” On top of all that, IT also carried the distinction
of being potentially impossible to realize outside the format of a longform novel due
to it’s unique dual-timeline format following the main characters as both children and adults. Director Andy Muschetti’s first IT movie handily
solved that issue by cutting the timeline cleanly in two and filming only the part where
the characters are kids; generally considered to be the stronger parts of the story and
where the central nemesis of a fear-powered spectral clown monster made the most sense. The result was a major hit that did the impossible
in terms of turning a big profit as a mainstream horror movie that also garnered big reviews
and also getting a generation of fans my age to admit that the original was only
good when Tim Curry was in it. But it also meant leaving the “grown up section”
for the promised sequel, which means having construct a freshly-structured narrative out
of the part of the story where the characters are less interesting, the monster is going to be less
threatening, the original mystery is already solved and the stuff waiting to be revealed
was some of King’s most unwieldy forays into the esoteric side of his overarching mythos. Basically, it sounds like something that’s not gonna work and bound to disappoint, and IT: Chapter Two… does not work and is
a great big disappointment. Not an outright dud or a disaster, but a remarkably
below-average film that serves up just a gigantic helping of all the reasons you briefly forgot why they
stopped spending big money on Stephen King movies for awhile to compliment all that “Welcome
back Steve!” sentiment from the first installment. To be clear: If you missed the first one…
you’re not going to see this one anyway, but just for appearances – there’s a small town in
Maine with a missing children problem that’s secretly inhabited by a man-eating demonic
entity of unknown origin that takes the form of a sewer dwelling clown called Pennywise who was
discovered, battled and ultimately destroyed in the first film by a group of misfits children
called The Losers; who swore a pact to return and finish the job 27 years later should IT return when it’s usually scheduled too according to local legend. That “IT” is Pennywise, just so we are clear. 27 years later, IT has indeed come back
and The Losers reassemble as drastically-changed but still-troubled adults to try and kill IT once
and for all. Without putting too simple a diagnosis on
things, you can see the problem pretty much every time (which is both too often and yet
somehow not enough to make the connection “work”) the film transitions from the adult
Losers embodied by recognizable grownup movie stars playing broad caricatures of traumatic
arrested development (the fat kid who’s now a buff high-achiever, the sarcastic closet-case
who’s a “politically-incorrect” hack comedian, the abuse-survivor girl who married a
just like daddy, etc;) to the more real-feeling, authentic kid actors from the first movie. Who should all be fresh in our minds, if you watched it right before seeing this one. Which you probably should because otherwise you will be lost on anything you are suppose to remember. They aren’t as interesting, the connection between the two doesn’t transfer,
etc. It’s a simple but impossible problem – basically
the unsolvable issue of putting this story on film – but it’s striking how far it carries over
to the rest of the movie: It’s not simply an inferior sequel, it’s a mediocre film that
can’t stop trying to reminding you of a much better film that you need to have seen to give a damn
about anything going on in this one. There’s a sense of the obligatory to everything
– half the time I couldn’t tell you why the characters were going where they were
going or doing what they were doing other than, “Well I guess this has to happen, because movie.” And, again, it really does feel like the very act
of adaptation is what ultimately does this one in: “Saving the reveals for part 2” means
having to cramp as much you plan to use of the massively weird backstory for what’s
actually going on with Pennywise into this one film, and while I won’t spoil let’s say
they hit a poor compromise between “enough they its it’s way too silly but not enough
that it’s interesting.” They also can’t seem to find a better solution
to making Pennywise as intimidating against adults as he was against children, so for the most
of his apparitions this time involve manifesting or morphing into giant monsters which are
impressive as effect… but not really scary, in fact. Whereas, the first film was genuinely terrifying in spots even the throw in scenes where they have him menace other actual children this time around to bring it back to some of that original shock, just doesn’t have it this time. It’s really quite striking how unafraid I was most of it. It’s just not scary this time. So, with the more interesting “kid version” of the story already played out, and the scarier monster left over in the last film as well, we’re really left with an adult movie that’s only about references
and callbacks to the one we like more and a situational-amnesia plot-extension device
requiring a walking tour of not-actually-old location. As though they want us to feel like its been 27 years for us since we watched the first movie too and this is like the reunification with these characters that we’ve missed for so long, but the movie came out last year guys…it hasn’t been that long. Like I’m not nostalgic for that first movie yet. I can just pull it up and watch it. So this is basically like the movie version of a band that calls their
second album a reunion comeback…and releases like a year after the first one. You didn’t go anywhere. We didn’t miss you. And, it’s a real bummer because I dug the
first one and I know a lot of people were looking forward to this… but yeah, it’s a wash. I gotta give it a 3 out of 10. Sorry.


  1. Todo McGillicutty Author

    This is one of those rare instances where I disagree with him. Except I agree with almost everything he said that made it not work. But I feel like there was more that made it work.

    Just like the book to me, the child sections were scary and the adult sections were emotionally horrible. It was a good juxtaposition. I feel like movie did well enough on that to make it higher than a 3/10.

    But then again there's other problems like using Bowers so little in part 2 they might have well not have bothered, or the interaction between Richie and Eddie in part 2 (while really good) feels out of place when watched right after part 1. They had to shove new kid scenes in part 2 just to justify it.

    So I dunno. Maybe it is a 3/10.

  2. revive Author

    the biggest problem the sequel faces is the fact that it fast forwards all the interesting bits and slows down the boring try hard bits due to the fact that its meant to be a douology and not a trilogy (which it should have been)

  3. Jorae Reegers Author

    WOW. was not expecting that low of a score. I haven't watched it yet, but I kept thinking they should have waited maybe at least a couple more years before making this film. It probably would have helped it tremendously. Scrap the de-aging of the kids sections that I keep hearing about, and invent better ways to scare.

  4. Thessalin Author

    Ooof. Sucks, but not unexpected. That last part has never really worked or done well. When you reveal the monster, the monster generally looses its fright.

  5. Jokes onYou Author

    I enjoyed the movie. I thought that it added to the legend of IT in a good way. The Story definitely had some pacing issues and I missed IT as a clown in a multitude of scenes. But besides that the cast did a good job and it wasn't boring or forgettable so I don't understand the low rating….

  6. MRDLT00 Author

    I mean I was going into this video having some middling thoughts on Chapter 2 yeah. Pennywise didn’t seem as intimidating as he should be for this finale confrontation.
    Having said that, Bob again goes over the top in his negative review of it. Quite stunning really, makes you think the movie was god awful when it simply wasn’t.

  7. Spiral Jumper Author

    Gotta agree with Bob here. I was distinctly unafraid and mostly bored throughout. And like another reviewer stated; yes, Bill Hader is good in this movie, but it’s more that his competence stands out in an otherwise incompetently made movie. He is much better in Barry.

  8. Tskmaster Author

    "There's a small town in Maine with a missing children problem that secretly IS a demonic child eating entity."
    If you don't get that, you'll never do a decent adaptation of it… or even understand the book in the first place.

  9. firefly4f4 Author

    I wasn't quite as harsh as Bob, but I still found this was kinda boring. I respect the actors, and they made a lot of it somewhat worthwhile, but sweet mercy most of this seemed like a wild goose chase that ended up being absolutely pointless when the solution was, "DO THE SAME THING WE DID AS KIDS!"

  10. John Moorhouse Author

    The thing that saved the movie for me was Bill Hader's performance as Ritchie. He has a lot of range that goes underused. I liked how subtle his character turn was, and the one scene towards the end where he's SPOILERS riffing on Pennywise and then gets caught in the deadlights is actually haunting.

    The visuals were all very good. However, there were also some very odd editorial choices. The one that stands out to me is the scene in which Eddie is being vomited on by the Leper. Playing that song during that moment just totally took me out of the film, and I didn't get back into it.

    The ending has always been bad. It was bad in the novel, bad in the 80's, and it's bad now. Short of directly changing the text, I dunno how they would have salvaged that one.

    I think the main problem is that, as kids, Pennywise serves as an excellent metaphor for the abuse of authority, neglect, sexual assault, etc. that all the kids go through on a daily basis. They are being haunted by something unique to being a kid. So being adults, they could just as easily walk away from it all, and the film never really gives them a good reason to stay beyond the oath they took in the first movie. As adults, Pennywise fails to take on a form that is truly frightening. He dredges up trauma, sure, but the characters never talk about it openly. They never confide in one another about what they're experiencing, and we miss out on part of what made the first film so strong. They talk about what makes Pennywise scary to them. Bill is scared of the truth about Georgie, Eddie is terrified of his nebulous illness (which winds up being a great character moment), Bev is traumatized by her treatment from her father, Stanley is afraid of growing up and things changing (signified by the woman in his rabbi's office, then confirmed in his speech towards the end of chapter 2), Mike is afraid of what happened to his parents, Ben is afraid he'll never be loved, and Ritchie is afraid of clowns because he copes with his burgeoning sexuality by being funny. When they're adults, some of them have moved past these fears, and some of them haven't, but maybe they have, and now they have new fears (Mike fearing the truth about the ritual, Ritchie being aware of his feelings and keeping them hidden, etc.) and the film never really settles on which it is. There's no point where I can look at a character and tell you what they're afraid of or what's motivating them. Bev is perhaps the worst treated in this regard, as she clearly has a lot of unresolved trauma regarding controlling male authority figures, but it never gets addressed or resolved. She just kinda…finds a different guy and moves on.

    Overall, I think it's a fairly good adaptation, but that's about all it has going for it.

  11. Kyle Armstrong Author

    I agree on a couple points. It wasn't as scary as part 1, the actors had less chemistry, and the bit about Pennywise' backstory. But I wouldn't say it was a was a wash either. Part 1 is genuinely horrifying, but it's also told from the perspective of children. Part 2 is more of a thriller, but it's also told from the perspective of adults. Adults who are still afraid but in a more "I'm risking my life" kind of afraid, rather than "I'm up against an unbeatable eldritch horror" kind of way. Which incidentally is part of why It targets children to begin with.

  12. BlueScarabGuy Author

    I'd disagree that it's THAT much of a wash, though I agree with most of your overall criticism. I think the adult cast actually did a great job capturing not just the adult versions of the characters on the page but the adult versions of the characters performed by those kids (with Bill Hader as the obvious standout). And it's still very well shot and scored. But yeah, getting Chapter One to the perfect length and pace unfortunately left Chapter Two with having to pick up its slack and bloated its runtime. And Pennywise not being particularly scary anymore isn't even just the fault of the characters being adults, it's also because the first film worked TOO WELL and turned Bill Skarsgaard's Pennywise into a cultural icon. We enjoy Pennywise too much to be scared of him.

    But yeah, seems like the overall takeaway is that they're can't be a perfect adaptation of the adult half of IT because the adult half of IT works best on the page and even then is a lot weaker than the kid part.

  13. JC Elizondo Author

    I do wonder if the best solution to this problem is to simply come up with an original take for the grown-up parts of the story, just take the overall premise and themes and set up, but make the entire conclusion radically different.

  14. mrtannzr Author

    I enjoyed it a lot. Maybe because I dont actually enjoy horror films and this one seemed to be more fun and fantastical than properly scary. Likely the same reason I enjoyed scary stories to tell in the dark, too. I honestly find the creature designs to be refreshing compared to most horror films that seem content to let the SpOoKy DoLl or dead nun do all the work. Those are boring! Your childhood friend's head turned into a crab is cool.

  15. docterfantazmo Author

    I loved the film, IT is weird but also funny and scary… kinda like a clown. Which is also why Pennywise himself isn't as scary as he was in part 1, the MCs are adults and IT's a fucking clown. Defo don't agree with ya on this one, Bob.

  16. Christopher Saunders Author

    I liked it. Glad I saw it before this review.
    I will agree that the ending is a bit damp, not the visceral beat-down I was hoping for, but otherwise it was fun, and the casting is spot. on. Especially the Eddie's… I'm have convinced an actual time machine was at play there.

  17. sweet mouse Author

    "unwieldy forays" was possibly the worst cut i've ever heard
    seems a good time to comment that sometimes you edit different takes of a sentence together and the result just highlights that neither half were that good anyway
    another take would be better, a lighter touch would be just fine

  18. Scribble Author

    I loved it, but thought the biggest mistake the film made was in using flashbacks as a crutch – it was afraid of doing its own thing. Sure, the adult section isn't as interesting in the book, but it's exactly the part of the story that would work better as a movie. There was a lot of depth to each of the adult characters, and the chemistry between them was electric, but they were never explored – in a 3 hour movie! If this film concentrated purely on the adults' story it would have hit it out of the park.

    It really felt like the studio were bowled over by how much the audience loved the kids, so wanted more of them in the film that wasn't written for them at all.

    As is, I think it'll work really well for a big supercut of the two movies, but less so as its own sequel.

  19. SteelStringD20 Author

    After having read the book and seen the first movie, I knew there was no way the second film could live up to either. And it couldn't. But it did FAR better than I gave it credit for. It does some interesting things, and the casting was done really well. And yeah, most of my positive view comes from not fucking it up as bad as it could have.

  20. Aerin Ravage Author

    I think I'm the only person who might have enjoyed this half as much as the first. Something about the adults confronting their past and current demons really worked for me. It's too long-maybe by 20-30 minutes. But I like the character studies.

  21. Sean Chagani Author

    BS, Bob… This movie was long but well-paced, had good scares, and as far as horror movie sequels go, this one is one of the best I can remember. (Seriously, have horror movie sequels ever been good?!) This movie isn't perfect, but it is definitely better than mediocre. I sometimes get a sense that Moviebob has a bone to pick with some movies, and just pre-emptively decides how to score it. A la Sausage Party. It was kinda funny, but with really terrible animation, but, just like The Invention of Lying, pushes MB's agenda, and hence, he holds it in high regards.

  22. Gary King Author

    "It's not simply an inferior sequel, it's a mediocre film that can't stop trying to remind you of a much better film that you need to have seen to give a damn about anything going on in this one."

    Are we talking about IT Chapter Two or Avengers: Endgame?

  23. Michael Myers Author

    The only possible solution is a 12 part Netflix series or something like that. Involve the characters in their own dramatic arcs, bring them together, and get some intimate scares in there. The cutting around from jump scare to jump scare this movie does, building no character relationships for almost 2 HOURS, just makes it exhausting.

  24. ZetZatar Author

    It tried too hard to be funny and not scary in an attempt to get mainstream audiences, forgetting the fact that the original was successful without having to do too much of that.

  25. Andorchadas Author

    Jeez, I thought the ending was fine, but Pennywise did go out like a bitch. And if you’re adapting the book, why would you do the Ritual of Chüd and not the turtle?

  26. chewface Author

    This really could have been cut down to 2 hours or less. Some scenes were so drawn out, it was borderline unwatchable. And I am really growing sick of "scary" movies relying on "startling" you with the full-on orchestra synthesizer "VRUM!!" sounds when something jumps out at you. That isn't scary. That's startling. There's a huge difference. The old lady scene is how it should be done. Every other scene was just the "VRUM!" sound over and over and over.

  27. Night Shark 115 Author

    I'm amazed you made an entire review of a movie without ever saying the title. Also saying "It too" without ever saying what you were comparing it to was an interesting choice.

  28. theoriginalsache Author

    I have to agree with the AV Club on this one. Not a very good horror movie, but did make for a pretty decent dramedy. I enjoyed myself, anyway. Of course, I don't usually find Stephen King all that scary, anyway. (Exception: The Mist.)

    Also, Bill Hader was fantastic.

  29. clint mcbride Author

    Love the content but really. Singing praises to Godzilla KotM but It Ch2 is a 3? Dont get me wrong it wasnt amazing but better than a 3. Id say 5/10. Formulaic (not scary) scares and bad pacing with a mediocre ending but it looked great(and i do count visual style in a review) there wasnt a single weak link in the acting(bill hader and james ransone as the standouts to me) and the writing worked for me(the scene to scene character writing, not the plot as a whole.

  30. Samuel Robinson Author

    I'm just hoping that while we're in the middle of this desire on Hollywood's part to reboot all of King's old movies, that we get a quality rendition of Christine and, to a lesser extent, Rose Red.


  31. Francis Author

    I'm finding the increasing trend of adding humour (or at least too much humour) into horror films really irritating, like this film did. I've noticed very few US critics seem to be pointing it out, but a few UK ones are? Is this a cultural thing? I understand having humour in the first act of a horror film to add contrast to the scary stuff, but once the scary stuff happens it should be scary, and never funny. Alien, for example, didn't have constant jokes in it, once the Alien actually appeared.

  32. jgallantyt Author

    I'm no film director, but if you make a mistake you retake the WHOLE sentance at LEAST, not the word you tripped on. I was so distracted by the mid sentance jump cuts. I understand you watched IT, but did you watch THIS before uploading it? Cool review, the video was a mess.

  33. GemNR Author

    Part 2 was always going to be difficult. King is notoriously bad at endings and I enjoyed the digs about that in the film. It's best to approach chapter 2 as a drama with horror elements instead of straight up horror. I love the novel and both film adaptations.

  34. xandir1lover Author

    Gotta say I'm disappointed by the tone of this review, I can understand not liking the film but for a dude that likes B flick monster features, you sounded extra venomous about this story in all its iterations. It just makes me a little sad :/

  35. laok Author

    its a lack of breathing room the problem being tone and pitch swerve so fast that the native feels cramped and the team is kinda lost i think if there been new rat pack that evenly failed or an older theam that failed but returned to help the current team something to build up it then had the final battle and totems be there own movie the ending would feel kinda good its sappy but ends safely a trew felling of its over though I as a lazy whitter would have had the town vanish then the groop vanish ending on crater something something symbolism

  36. Mikey Rushkins Author

    Jesus Christ, this was annoying to listen to. you must be a blast at parties =/ try having fun every now and than you might actually learn how to enjoy something for once.

  37. Spellbinding Circle Productions Author

    Yeah Bob I feel like you're too harsh on the movie. I mean it wasn't as good as part 1, but there was a lot to like. Pennywise was great. The adults for the most part ranged from pretty good to God tier bill hader. I thought they had great chemistry. I feel like they needed to scrap the whole "gotta find a totem" part of the movie in favor of something else to get rid of the monster. But it's just what we got. I'd say far more a 6/10

  38. Gina C Author

    Mind you, I'm pretty easy to please, but I loved it. I mean, there are certainly some genuine criticisms here, but I liked the movie. I did think the tokens thing was pretty contrived and an obviously inorganic way to add more scares, but overall I really enjoyed the whole thing enough that when I had to pee at the two hour mark, I definitely ran for it.

  39. Aaron Brown Author

    It's not simply an inferior sequel, it's a mediocre film that can't stop trying to remind you of a much better film that you need to have seen to give a damn about anything going on in this one; there's a sense of obligation to everything."
    -This sums up perfectly why I stopped watching avengers movies and non-spin-off non-stand-alone Star-Wars movies, and pretty much anything MCU that isn't directed by Gunn or Waititi.

  40. Rocketboy 1313 Author

    I really enjoyed "It Chapter 2", the cast is good, there are plenty of small moments in it that are good micro-scares, it is frequently funny, and if I am not wrong… all of the characters have an arc, with the standout of Bill getting rid of his survivor's guilt.

  41. ZergrushEddie Author

    I am kind of surprised to hear Bob negatively say "you need to see Chapter One to understand Chapter Two." Aside from Marvel Movie, isn't that true of most sequels? Regardless of whether Chapter Two is good or not, giving it flak for being confusing if you have not seen Chapter One is a bit silly. "Man, this Two Towers movie doesn't make any sense; why is this dirty guy, Boy George and Peter Dinklage with a beard chasing after these purple monsters?"

  42. Vincent Dennis Author

    Sad to disagree with you on this one, Bob. I really liked it. My only real negative takeaway is that I couldn't tell whether the kids being haunted by Pennywise while they searched for their Token was a mataphor for them being afraid like they were kids. But Stephen King always does that to you. Felt authentically SK. This one frightened me more than other. And the arrested development metaphor touched me pretty deeply. But maybe I'm just a loser?

  43. TheRanblingjohnny Author

    I figure the only way to truly do the book justice is a long TV show. Say 3 seasons on netflix maybe 10 episode of 1 hour season. The structure of the book is perfect for a Chronicle of Derry kind of deal. It essentially a collection of short stories that has a linked narrative.

  44. Phantom9252 Author

    I REALLY feel like Bob got this completely wrong. Chapter 2 not being "as scary" as Chapter 1 is kind of the point of the film. Chapter 1 was all about fear and trauma and Chapter 2 is all about OVERCOMING fear and trauma, so naturally it's going to be less scary.
    I liked how it played with the Ritual of Chud and set up at the beginning that "endings always suck" I thought it was a nice compromise between King's book ending with the Ritual, the original TV series' ending with the giant spider, and yet still added their own take on it by making it a Pennywise-Spider.
    Yes it is inherently less scary for adults to fight a monster clown than kids by nature of them being adults but I thought Chapter 2 played well with turning the scares into adult fears, like instead of being the kid threatened by the monster clown now you have to watch and be helpless as the monster clown eats a kid. And the adults all being obviously stunted played into the theme, that "IT" isn't the monster clown, "IT" is growing up. That's why Bev's fear that Pennywise preyed on was blood, y'know, like a period, something that happens to girls as they age. And that extended to adult Bev by connecting it to all the sexual abuse and harassment she suffered in her life. And Billy's guilt over being responsible for Georgie's death and carrying it with him all those years, letting go of it was what finally allowed him to grow up, the scene with young and adult actors for Billy was amazing.
    My one nitpick is it feels like the opening death was just kind of random and Pennywise should have no reason to go after that guy (he was an adult and he was unconscious so he wasn't afraid his partner was afraid.) And my only serious critique is the amnesia plot kept coming back and they talked about how they 'weren't together for that whole summer' idk, maybe it was just me but I felt like they were building to some reveal of something the kids did that went unshown in the first movie but once revealed it would totally change how you watch the first movie but then that reveal never came.


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