Is 'It Chapter Two' As Good A Movie As Its Predecessor, Or Does The Sequel Lose Its Way? Here's What The Reviews Say

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2017's "It," capitalizing on audience's '80s nostaglia a lá "Stranger Things," was a commercial and critical horror hit. Does the sequel, "It Chapter Two" live up to the same heights, or does it fail to capture the magic of the first film? Here's what the reviews say.

The Movie Takes Place 27 Years After The Events Of 'It'

Chapter One ended with a band of teens defeating It in 1989, promising that whatever became of them in the future, they'd team up again if the thing ever came back. Now it's 2016, and time to make good on that oath. Trouble is, only one of these self-dubbed "Losers" remembers the pact. 

The Hollywood Reporter

The adult cast, made up of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Jay Ryan, all manage to embody believable grown-up versions of the kids in Chapter 1. Their chemistry is electric, their humor is pitch-perfect, and their ensemble scenes are far and away the strongest part of the movie. 


But Don't Worry, You Still See A Lot Of The Original Cast — Maybe Too Much

While there's no denying that those young characters and the returning original cast are a powerhouse of charm, the flashbacks themselves too often re-tread what we already know from the first film and pull the sense of action out of the present.

Much of the film's near three-hour runtime is spent in the past, where we glimpse the Losers' forgotten memories of the horrifying summer they spent battling It. 


The filmmakers feel beholden to constantly flashing back to the kids. Newly filmed (and de-aged) scenes with the young actors take up much more time than they should. They act as a shorthand for character development I wish the adult actors got to play.


Out Of The Adult Cast, Bill Hader Shines Through The Most

Hader's spin on Richie, a performance all but preordained by Finn Wolfhard (who notoriously fan-casted the Emmy nominee as his older self) is the film's standout. Few actors are so skilled at melding a comedian's pain with their bluster, but Hader makes it look easy.


The real highlight, though, is Hader, who turns Richie into the default lead of the story. Sure, Bill is the leader of the Losers, and Bev is a major player with more screentime. But it's Hader's Richie who feels the most alive; the most vibrant. He's also the character who has a genuine arc, shouldering secrets and emotional issues that slowly make themselves known.

Slash Film

But With A Nearly Three Hour-Long Runtime, The Movie Frequently Feels Overlong And Repetitive

A good portion of the movie's midsection sees the adult Losers split up to retrieve tokens from their childhood needed for their looming ritualistic showdown with Pennywise. Their various missions incorporate flashbacks to new scenes set during the summer of '89, but with the exception of one character, the information we learn about the protagonists isn't new or particularly revealing.


While some of the film's bloodiest setpieces amp up the chills from the first film — from a funhouse-set freakout to a shocking sequence that sees Chastain doused in more blood than even "The Shining" could dream of — many of them are eerily familiar and queasily repetitive.
By the time "It Chapter Two" lurches toward the Losers' ultimate battle with Pennywise, the film has been permeated by a sense of deja vu; it's a whole lot less scary or fun the second time around.


In Terms Of The Horror, 'Chapter Two' Goes Bigger — And Weirder

This is big, epic horror the likes of which we rarely get these days, and Warner Bros. deserves credit for affording the filmmakers a solid budget to bring this world to life. 

Film School Rejects

Muschietti and company have adopted a "go big or go home" approach to this material, conjuring up a huge horror extravaganza – the type of epic, exhausting narrative that usually gets reserved only for blockbuster superhero movies these days. Studio-based horror isn't very daring, but It Chapter Two is willing to take risks, and draw its story towards increasingly weird places. The climax dips into full-blown cosmic horror by way of H.P. Lovecraft in ways that most studio flicks tend to avoid like the plague.

Slash Film

But 'Bigger' Doesn't Necessarily Mean Scarier

Skarsgard has some chilling moments, but when he isn't on-screen, It Chapter Two struggles to remain unsettling as its protagonists stumble down one reality-warped version of Derry after another before escaping back to reality — if "escape" is even the right word. 

The Verge

[T]he real problem, the real catch, is that the hijinks themselves, while spooky, feel largely out of touch and beside the point. The movie's special effects have a doughy, rough clumsiness that's both charming—like watching retro claymation ghouls tumble around onscreen—and shoddy. 

Vanity Fair

Bill Skarsgård Again Delivers A Compelling Portrayal Of It, Though His Performance Is Bogged Down By CGI

Skarsgard gets more opportunities to stretch this time, even if the movie remains oddly uncontented with the flesh-and-blood actor: On the rare occasion when Pennywise doesn't morph into some entirely new pustulant, decomposing boogeyman, Muschietti has his CG team end a straightforward shot by pushing the clown's features around on his face. He's scary enough on his own, guys.

The Hollywood Reporter

In Chapter Two, Muschietti relies less on the strength of his actor in simple, tightly constructed scare scenes, leaning into the weird and hallucinatory at full-blast […] He opts for stranger and more surreal, which also means that there's less of Skarsgård, and despite the grandeur of It's alternate forms here, there's nothing that's quite as chilling or full of dread as the simplicity of his sing-songy storybook voice, jolting contortions, and ghoulish grin.


Elements Of Stephen King's Original Novel Present Problems For The Movie Adaptation

The sequel to 2017's It Chapter One was always going to be a daunting endeavor. While King's 1100 page novel shifts between the Losers as kids and adults, director Andy Muschetti's first film wisely focused strictly on the teenagers' tale. That film as a whole works beautifully, and its young teen characters — not the typical horror movie "teens" but actual kids facing the horrors of the world — are a big part of its success. We see ourselves in them, and their struggles with various traumas are our own even as they square off against supernatural threats. Returning to focus on their experience as adults leaves this film facing an uphill battle, and it's unfortunately one it only fights to a draw.

Film School Rejects

Let's be honest with ourselves. The original novel was a little strange, even for Stephen King. And, to add onto that, the novel was long. Really long. So, there are certain concessions that had to be made in order to ensure that the pacing was smooth. 

Nightmarish Conjurings

Whole scenes of Chapter 2 are lifted directly from the source material with little or no thought given to how or where they fit into the dual movie's new dynamics. Entire subplots, like the Henry Bowers storyline, pick up and meander around aimlessly, every so often stopping to wink at the camera and say "hey, remember this from the book?" before they peter out without payoff. Meanwhile, some of the newer plot points–like a totally reimagined "Ritual Of Chüd," a magic ceremony used in the novel but kept out of Chapter 1–divorce themselves so completely from the source material and become so unrecognizable that it's honestly baffling that they managed to make it into the final cut at all.


King has saddled the director with an even bigger problem: At a certain point, the novel goes off the rails, veering beyond the merely supernatural into full-blown metaphysical mumbo-jumbo (enter King's cosmic space turtle, the Matubin, and other "macroverse" oddities). The movie has almost no choice but to rethink the final act, anticipating the overhaul by way of a running joke. 


Still, The Movie Is At Its Strongest When It Delivers On The Emotional Beats

[W]hen things do connect, all the right heartstrings are tugged. Muschietti has such a vision for this story, and while it's often outmatched by the sheer scope of this production, at least for Chapter Two, he never loses sight of his Derry. Or rather, his Losers. There's so much love for this ensemble, and he shows it in the ways he attempts to slow down whenever an opportunity arises.

Consequence of Sound

It Chapter Two, a lengthy, messy, not-always-successful sequel, is one of those rare Stephen King adaptations that acknowledges that there's more to King's work than things that go bump in the night. There's humanity.

Slash Film

The film has so much heart and you can feel how much reverence Dauberman and the Muschiettis have for the source material. It is full of laughter and pain. Fun and terror. Fear and triumph.

Nightmarish Conjurings


There's no denying IT Chapter Two is uneven. It attempts to take on an extraordinary amount of challenging material with it's near-three-hour runtime, but doesn't always use that time to its best advantage. Muschietti has been open about his plans for an extended cut of the film, and this is one of the rare times where I think a longer version might tell the story better. But the parts of the film that fly — the performances, the imagery, the obvious love for the character and materials — truly soar, delivering the emotional catharsis King's epic horror tale deserves.


Watch The Trailer

Pang-Chieh Ho is an Editor at Digg.

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