With IT Chapter Two having just recently hit cinemas here in the UK, I figured it was finally time to get the blog I had been thinking of creating for years underway.
I warn you, there will be spoilers and this will be long.
Following in the footsteps of IT was always going to be a difficult task. The first movie blew me away, all expectations I had going in to the cinema were torn down and then built back up even higher than ever before. Bill Skarsgård was captivating, creepy and downright incredible in his role as Pennywise the Clown. Not only that, but the child actors they brought in to play the Losers were equally as amazing, all of them were fantastic actors and had great chemistry. It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but I would have to say I left the theatre wanting to adopt Eddie Kaspbrak, which was largely due to how young Jack Dylan Grazer portrayed him.
Now, before rambling on too much about the first movie that I clearly loved (if the fact I have a Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise tattoo didn’t highlight that fact enough), it’s time to talk about where they took IT Chapter Two. As always, it is best to start at the beginning.
We meet Adrian and Dom, a couple trying to enjoy their night out. A pair who have witty lines and romance and chemistry, so immediately you already know something bad is going to happen. I was a fool, clearly forgot what movie I was watching and got somewhat attached quickly.
The death of Adrian was a mix of homophobic assholes and Pennywise. This scene broke my heart in many ways, the acting was fantastic, as Adrian struggled for air and Dom screamed at them to stop hurting him I was pulled into the movie. The scene was harsh and brutal, as the attack didn’t stop and when they dragged him over to the edge of the bridge I felt my heart break for Dom. Many people argue that this scene was unnecessary in this day and age, ‘it’s 2019 we don’t need to see this sh*t’ or ‘this movie is set in 2016 this wouldn’t happen anymore’. And whilst I’m not trying to be a political blog of any sort, I do think these people need to simply type in a quick ‘recent homophobic attacks’ in google to discover how wrong they truly are, and I also feel it was relevant to the later reveal of Richie’s sexuality as we now know how homophobic and terrifying Derry was towards LGBT+ individuals therefore we understand Richie’s struggles a lot better, but I will leave it at the fact I believe It Chapter Two was highly successful in having a gripping and intense beginning.
Seeing Pennywise again sent tingles down my spine. With the makeup as incredible as ever, Pennywise was an intimidating figure and there’s no doubt in my mind that as Dom stared Pennywise in the face (to the best of his ability considering there were so many god damn red balloons in the way, thank you Pennywise for making me flinch everytime I see a red balloon) there was a sense of belief that he would never see his boyfriend alive again. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first time we truly see Pennywise CHOMP ON SOMEBODY’S FACE. Of course, we saw him snap down on Georgie’s arm in the first movie, which was horrific and gruesome and watching a young child screaming like that hurt in a way I can never explain, but I believe this was the first time we actually saw his teeth sink in to somebody’s face and I loved it. Of course I was sad for Adrian, but watching Pennywise in his element, munching on his helpless victims, was thrilling. Finishing off my surprisingly long review about only the beginning of this movie, I will say that the beginning of IT Chapter One was indeed better but that in no way takes away from how incredible this one was. The first one was better for a few reasons – one being that it was a young child, therefore it hit the heart harder and made Pennywise seem crueler than imaginable (although this was nearly perfectly balanced by the fact this time round despite it being an older person, they had a loved one watch on), another reason is because Georgie was in fact close to one of the Losers we later watch so it continues to affect the viewer throughout the entire movie, and a last one is that what the hell happened to Dom?
As the movie progresses we meet the older Losers. Mike is calling them, panicked and as to the point as a LYING LIAR can be (I don’t hate Mike, he was desperate, he had lived in Derry for 27 years and every memory remained intact so he was adamant to do anything to get rid of Pennywise – I understand that, however, I will be screaming at the Losers that he is lying to them everytime I watch this movie in privacy). How they introduced all adult Losers was pretty fantastic, and fitting as well.
What I love about the adult losers lives, and this goes for the books as well, is that due to them forgetting their lives in Derry the progression and growth they went through as children has just fluttered away and most find themselves in the same positions as they were in as children.
Bev and Eddie are the best examples. Bev is married to a man who has zero respect for her (or women in all honesty), a man who believes he owns her and controls her, a man who has such power over her that he is so sure she’ll do what he says. The call from Mike, the small reminder of Derry, pushes Bev to fight him off her and run, leave the horror of her home-life. Just as it was in her childhood with her Father, he had all the same ways of treating Bev, the same creepy aura and predatory gaze, the hatred and anger in the tones of his voice, the complete lack of trust in Bev. And Bev fought him off as a child (granted instead of running she was kidnapped by Pennywise, however..) she then found herself surrounded by the Losers then as well. This kind of parallel gives me such joy in movies, I feel I can see the story unfold, I can understand the character I’m meant to love, I’m attached to them and I want what’s best for them. And in this case, I’m screaming at the screen because God Damn Bev you got away from this once, you can do it again, I believe in you.
Eddie is a similar case, he lived with an overly-protective Mother who instilled such fear in him that he truly saw germs and disease everywhere he turned. In his adult-years his wife is not much different, (in fact, the characters are so similar that they’re played by the same actress).
Again, this shows that the Losers have forgotten their childhood, they have forgotten their growth and how much they truly learned about themselves and those around them, and that almost hurts more than anything else that happens in this story (almost, not quite).
Now, for the first major change. Stanley’s death. I loved it. That sounds sadistic and twisted, and I’m of course sad that Stan died. But the changes around the circumstances of his death made for this movie were fantastic, the links to the ending make it worthwhile but I will say that the death scene itself felt stilted slightly. I’m not sure whether that was an issue with the movie or the story created by King, it just felt like I didn’t have enough care for adult Stan to watch him die and be sad about it. Clinging on to how much I adored him in the first movie was why I did shed a tear.
However, this is almost made up by the letter at the end of the movie. It turns out Stanley sacrificed himself for the Losers, knowing they wouldn’t be able to defeat Pennywise if Stanley stayed alive but stayed away, but also knowing that there was no way he could drag himself to Derry because the fear and terror in him was too much. It was beautiful, it was loyalty and friendship and heartbreaking oath-keeping, and I loved it.
I will say that from here, a couple of scenes feel slow and stilted. The restaurant scene, whilst warm and bittersweet (both feelings I enjoy whilst watching a movie), ended strangely with the waitress simply getting them the cheque despite the fact they had been destroying furniture and yelling loudly in the establishment due to hallucinations. I understand the point of Derry, and the adults in Derry, is that they are all affected by Pennywise but surely that doesn’t mean that they won’t care if their business is being wrecked by a bunch of emotional adults? I did like watching them figure things out, the flickering camera shots and panicked expressions and then watching them realise Stanley was dead, fantastic. I do think their reactions were a bit lackluster, this was a childhood friend that granted they couldn’t remember well but by then they had started remembering and surely realising somebody who had went through one of the most traumatic experiences of your life with you would garner a bit more intense a reaction. Especially from Richie, Eddie and Bill who had been friends with him before the Pennywise incident. However, maybe I’m just an emotional person.
I don’t want to get much into the Ritual of Chud, and Mike showing it to Bill the way he did. I will say, however, I prefer how it was done in the movie than in the books. It was all a little too cheesy for my liking, yet it described it to the audience in the easiest and best way possible.
Mike drugging Bill, I wasn’t a fan of, nor was I a fan of Bill not seemingly caring afterwards. (Also not to mention Mike lying to Bill, I understand it had to be done for progression of the story but it just made me a little ‘meh’ towards Mike at the end when we discovered this.)
I did, however, like that this required them to gather ‘tokens’. This was a clever way to dive more into the torture the children were put through by Pennywise, these flashbacks gave more reason as to why the Losers were so horrified by the creepy clown.
Already terrifying, watching Eddie’s encounter as a child with Pennywise and his hallucinated Mother was both emotional and creepy, and watching Richie being bullied by Henry and being called gay when we now know he was trying to hide his sexuality was heartbreaking and horrifying.
Finn Wolfhard’s acting was subtle and beautiful here, when he was accused of being gay in the arcade, you watched the fear and worry and denial flash across his face. It was all so small, but so heartbreaking to watch, and I just wanted to cradle Richie in my arms and tell him it was all okay.
The flashback to Stanley bringing the shower caps was also beautifully done, there was a showing of friendship and a showing of Stanley’s personality, again bringing out the fact I much preferred how he was portrayed as a child rather than an adult but again I suppose there wasn’t much time to establish adult Stanley.
The de-aging process was noticeable, I can’t lie. Was this because I knew it was a thing they had done before even seeing the movie? In all honesty, possibly. Their voices were that little bit too high, features didn’t move quite the way they should have. Eddie’s voice, Richie’s face and Ben’s entire self were the most noticeable. I’m not sure they did have to de-age Bev, Mike, Stanley or Bill but if they did then they did those four well. I do wish I had watched the movie before reading that they had de-aged actors so I knew whether this was noticeable without prior knowledge. It was as well done as possible though and it didn’t yank me out of the movie experience too much, I still loved the lines and the acting and the scene itself.
Also whilst I’m here, a few things that are not about specific scenes as they are about characters/actors.
Henry Bowers, to start with, felt near pointless to me. I love the book version of Bowers, the miniseries even did it better (which I don’t often say), but he wasn’t intimidating or threatening or even much use to the story as a whole. The young actor who played Bowers shone for me in the first movie, so to watch his adult version not get the same treatment was unfortunate. There’s no communication with Pennywise other than a red balloon and his dead childhood friend. Sadly not what I wanted to see from this movie. I did enjoy Owen Teague returning as the dead version of Patrick Hockstetter, this young actor deserves more recognition in my opinion.
Another thing I wanted to address was, yet again, Bill Skarsgård. The scene in which Bev watches him paint his face, scratch the red cuts in to it, when we got to see Skarsgård’s real face for a while was so God Damn enjoyable to me. Bill Skarsgård has earned a lot of credit from this franchise, respectfully so, yet to actually have the actors face on screen without makeup, where we can see that he does not need the makeup and the clothes to give the essence of Pennywise, where we can see he in fact puts so much of the character we know as our modern Pennywise into the role himself is so satisfying to watch because he’s an incredible actor and he deserves a whole lot of recognition.
Also Stephen King’s cameo? Absolutely freakin’ loved it.
The story arc of Bill realising he was not to blame for Georgie’s death 27 years ago was horrifically beautiful. From him seeing Georgie in the sewer and still trying to save him despite knowing in his heart that his younger brother is gone, to trying to save a different young boy because he can’t have any more Georgie’s on his hands (only to watch the young boy have, yet again, his face feasted on by Pennywise in one of the more surprising scenes of the movie, I honestly believed Bill would manage to save the boy, or that at the very least he’d break the glass and have a hold on the boy and Pennywise would drag him in to the darkness. But, no, we watch as Pennywise breaks through, sinks his teeth into the young boy and Bill is left helpless and distraught. It is yet again heartbreaking, incredibly well done and well acted. Praises to James McAvoy for this scene.) To then drowning the hallucination of Georgie, and shooting the hallucination of his younger self – this is telling them, himself and Pennywise that he was not to blame for Georgie’s death, that he was a young boy who simply didn’t want to play with his brother in the rain and that that is not a God damn crime, nor is it a reason to blame himself for the death of his brother. Holy Crap, that hurt me in all the best ways. His growth was amazing, the storytelling of this growth was beautiful and the acting was superb. I have no complaints over Bill’s story arc.
Now, the end of the movie. Where they delve deep into Pennywise’s cave to burn their tokens and kill this clown once and for all. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Will they actually kill Eddie? Will a different loser be hurt? Will a different loser die? Would Pennywise reveal Richie’s secret to the whole team? Would this truly be the final chapter?
My questions were all answered. Yes. No. No. No and also, probably? The last question was answered and then the answer was revoked after all the articles coming out recently but that’s a whole different story.
Watching Richie nearly die, and having Eddie save him was terrific. Eddie’s initial death in the book is a little… well I don’t have a word for it but he gets his arm bitten off by a giant spider so, yes I prefer the movie version. His death in the miniseries? Lets just not speak of that. But his death in this movie felt right, he was saving Richie of all people, he was rejoicing for being brave and having the courage, the courage that stemmed from the fear of losing another friend, from the fear of losing Richie of all people. This is the first time Eddie’s death has hurt me in such a way. The acting from both actors of Eddie throughout both movies, Bill Hader’s acting when he discovered Eddie was dead, the lead up to his death, the Losers destroying Pennywise unaware that Eddie was in fact already dead. Everything hurt, and it was beautiful.
The death of Pennywise itself, I will happily and controversially say that I enjoyed. He has spent so long tormenting children because they have believed he is terrifying and intimidating and awful (which he is all of the above, don’t get me wrong) but to turn that around and use it on him. Make him feel small, and useless and pathetic. It was bittersweet and fantastically done. In this adaptation, Pennywise’s whole foundation is of belief and if you believe it is real then it can hurt you (as seen multiple times throughout the movies), so to make Pennywise believe that he cannot hurt them, that he is pointless and tiny, is a poetic kind of ending to a previously horrendous and menacing figure. Also, am I the only one who almost felt sorry for teeny tiny Pennywise? Yes? Okay, my bad.
Watching the cave crumble as the Losers escape (minus Eddie, rip my small, precious loser) I felt the relief the losers were feeling, the joy that it was all over and the heartbreak for losing another friend. When they received the letters, and we got glimpses of their new lives where they were all separate but connected and living the best lives they could be living, when we watched Richie scratch his and Eddie’s initials back into the fence, when we saw Ben and Bev were still together. It was an incredible ending to this movie and franchise. Yes it was slightly cheesy but I felt it was necessary after the emotional rollercoaster we had been taken on throughout both movies, and as the movie drew to a close and the credits rolled I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth.
The movie was fantastic, beautiful and well-written, slow in parts and could have been shorter, but overall was a superb follow-up to the first movie and a fantastic adaptation of an already fantastic book. But it was over, and that hurt, I wanted to know more about the Losers, I wanted more of that friendship and loyalty to look forward to, I even wanted more Pennywise. And for a movie to leave you with those feelings means it must be a good movie overall, eh?
Overall a 7½ / 10 for me.
Most reviews won’t be this long, this is a special case for many reasons – it was just about a three hour movie, I’m obsessed with all things Stephen King and IT is one of my favourite stories of all time so I have a lot of feelings. Saying that, I’ve missed a lot of things out because this is so long and I don’t have as much to say about the other stuff but I’m sure I’ll reference it in future reviews when necessary. Thank you for reading.