‘IT Chapter Two’ doesn’t deserve your penny

“IT Chapter Two” dwarfs its 2017 predecessor in nearly every way. The horror scenes are more brutal, more surreal. The original cast of baby-faced teens has been replaced by Hollywood powerhouses like James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader. The entire spooky affair almost has an epic feel to it, something that is no doubt reflected in its staggering 169-minute runtime.

But “IT Chapter 2” fails to exceed in one very crucial aspect: enjoyability. It breaks this writer’s heart to say it, but this movie is a bit of a dud.

We pick up 27 years after the last “IT.” The Losers Club has all grown up and somehow forgotten about the horrific summer they shared in the small town of Derry, Maine. When brutal murders and sightings of a certain dancing clown begin again, the Losers are called back to their hometown to finish IT once and for all.

Things begin competently enough with a legitimately brutal opening scene as Pennywise the dancing clown makes his eerie reappearance. As we’re reintroduced to adult Losers, there’s interesting and often heartbreaking wrinkles added to each character.

Ben, for example, has shed the excess body weight of his childhood and turned into a hunky, big-shot architect. Despite that, he’s still a terminally lonely person. Beverly, having escaped her abusive father, is now in the clutches of an equally abusive husband.

The Losers are weighed down by some hefty emotional baggage, providing incredible potential for some truly affecting character development. Only, for the most part, it never comes. This movie just has too much going on at any given point.

This film is bursting at the seams with story, and no single aspect of it gets anywhere near enough time to shine.

Even the titular creature IT has an oddly limited amount of screen time, which is a shame, because Bill Skarsgard once again plays Pennywise with unmatched otherworldly energy.

The biggest factor in bogging down the film’s story is its incessant flashbacks to the Losers as teenagers. This creates two problems. The first is that it never really allows the adult versions of these characters to come into their own, instead making them feel too much like only extensions of their younger selves.

The second is that they just don’t really belong. Not a single one adds anything of note to the story. To be fair, many of the film’s scenes don’t feel like they add to any larger picture either. Things happen for two hours until the movie decides it needs to end.

Speaking of which, the climax is where the whole movie finally collapses on itself. To be blunt, it’s just a boring finale. The final battle is over much too soon, resolved much too simply, and then things fade to black much too fast, leaving you wondering if that’s really all there is to see.

Stephen King’s novel is admittedly nearly impossible to adapt, and while this is probably the most faithful attempt, it still fails to be a good one.

“IT Chapter 2” isn’t without merit. While never particularly scary, there are plenty of strange and delightfully weird moments. The acting is solid all around, and despite being a horror movie, it’s genuinely funny when it wants to be.

But it can’t make up for just how badly this movie wastes all it has going for it.

Without giving too much away, the movie ends on a sentimental note, in which the characters proudly claim to always be The Losers. After watching the film, I felt like a loser too.

Not because I agreed with the sentiment, but because I had to sit through this movie.

mason.robert.dredge@mail.umkc.edu

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