NO SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
The Clown is Back! Pennywise is Back! 27 years have passed since the supernatural creature terrorised the innocent children of Derry Maine and It has come back again. The Losers Club in Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader), Eddie (James Ransone), Ben (Jay Ryan) and Mike (Isiah Mustafa) thus have to reunite and eliminate the threat once and for all.
Acting & Character performances.
The actors playing the older versions of the Losers Club were always going to have it rough emulating the exceptional performances of the actors playing the younger versions. If there’s one thing that really grounded the plot in the first film, it was the lead characters; their bond, their comradery and their personalities. McAvoy, Chastain and co. basically had to come in and play these older versions in a manner that would be assuring and convincing to the audience who loved the 2017 flick. McAvoy had to get Bill’s character right; down to the speech impediment, and he did. The same applies to Bill Hader with his character Richie as well as James Ransone with Eddie. I wasn’t really feeling the same vibe with Chastain and Jay Ryan; I couldn’t feel the connection as much as I would have wanted even though the flashback scenes were really pushing for it.
Then there is Pennywise himself, played superbly by Bill Skarsgard… what more could you ask for in an antagonist? He dials up his performance several notches in this and understandably so. Pennywise is the main attraction in the series and thus Bill has to sell that menacing, sinister and frightening vibe to provide the right kind of material for the other actors to feed off and enhance their own characters. Not long ago, Jessica Chastain herself admitted that Skarsgard would pull weird and chilling stunts in-character during one of their preliminary meetings before principal photography; a testament to the dedication of the actor in this role.
Despite the fact that I have a bit of an issue associated with this, which I will get into a bit later, the lead characters had very inviting character arcs i.e. each of them had their own individual struggles that they had to relive and eventually overcome in the plot. Their struggles take them through a very emotional journey that explores the fears and denials that they had suppressed for the past 27 years.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
Admittedly, I haven’t read the book which this film is adapting but in my view, I consider that a good thing. I went into it not knowing how the plot would pan out beginning, middle and end and that gave me an opportunity to enjoy every plot-point as it unfolded. Besides, I am quite sure that there are some plot elements that Andy added in that aren’t in the book; correct me if I am wrong.
Anyway, If I was to describe the story of this film in two words, I would definitely go for… moving and wholesome. Moving, in the sense that it grasps your attention from scene one and remains consistent for a better part of the runtime. Wholesome, in the sense that it encompasses exciting subplots (involving unexplored happenings in the lead characters’ lives), it has some great themes (change, coming of age and fear) and finally, the tones interchange between somber and bliss seamlessly without putting a considerable dent in the emotional flow of the narrative.
That said, I do have some issues with this movie. First off, I thought the backstory of a certain character was going to be explored in satisfactory detail but sadly the film just brushes on it. Secondly, I had an issue with the pacing; it was quite slow in some points and I blame this on the elongated flashback sequences. Don’t get me wrong though, I love the flashback scenes because they provide a lot of emotion to the story. Nonetheless, I’d have preferred it done in moderation to allow the plot to explore other things i.e the backstory of a certain character. I didn’t like how the exposition was handled; it was rushed. Also, a considerable chunk of the jump-scares were predictable.
Well, I’d say Stephen King must be proud of what Andy Muschietti has been able to accomplish as far as bringing the chilling ‘It’ series to life on the big screen. Yes, the story might try to hit hard on the audience’s nostalgia by moving back and forth the younger and older versions of the characters but there is thrill and suspense in that. The first film was phenomenal, easily one of my best movies of 2017, if not the best. It; Chapter 2, on the other hand, is just as good… the proof is in the pudding!
(Imagery courtesy of Warner Bros.)