Saturday, September 7, 2019

It: Chapter Two

By sati (harlequinade) Saturday, September 7, 2019 , , , , , , , ,
(spoilers!)

It Chapter One premiered two years ago and was a massive success - it got positive reviews from critics, the audience fell in love with the film and it managed to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time. As entertaining as that movie was it had a lot of problems and now in Chapter Two the same problems return. But so does the fun, the emotions and of course, Pennywise.

The film, just like Chapter One, is extremely episodic and the editing is still a problem. Also this one suffers a bit from going back and forth between old footage of younger actors, new footage with them and then jumping back to 2016, when Losers are 27 years older. There was no other way to tell this story so it's not something that could have been improved but the film has so many repetitive scenes where the characters are attacked by Pennywise. Still, all those scenes are creepy and very well executed.
I think this movie is far more scary than the first one. There is nothing here as creepy as Pennywise taunting Bill and Richie as he is holding Eddie but the scares are very good. Bowers seeing Patrick in his room, the little girl being lured by Pennywise, Eddie's disgusting encounter with the leper and Ben hiding in a locker (I think this is the scariest moment in the film) are all wonderfully frightening moments.

There are some complaints out there about CGI which has this campy, old school look. I think it was intentional and a reference to Evil Dead. There's also a great reference to The Thing with Bill Hader even repeating the same exact same line from the movie. There are few very fun cameos in this - among others, Stephen King himself shows up in a scene with James McAvoy and Andy Muschietti is seen behind Eddie in the pharmacy. The third act is one of the most epic and biggest in any horror movie ever and Muschietti takes things to impressively weird levels - nothing as crazy as it was in the book which would probably be unfilmable, but it's still remarkable just how BIG this movie gets.
There are so many set pieces that are truly brilliant - the scene where Pennywise taunts Richie and flies down holding balloons, the gruesome opening of the movie (with very good Xavier Dolan as Adrian Mellon), the entirely new sequence that wasn't in the novel with Bill rushing to aid a child in the hall of mirrors and much hyped scene involving Jessica Chastain drenched in blood that has an amazing pay off involving Ben that made the moment so emotional.

The film's biggest strength, just like with the first one, is the cast. The young actors all return and do a beautiful job with the new material, particularly Sophia Lills and Finn Wolfhard, who gets to portray another side of Richie this time around. Bill Skarsgard doesn't have a moment as creepy as his work in Chapter One save for an amazing scene with a little girl, but Pennywise gets more personal here - really using The Losers' secrets against them in a merciless way. There's also a brilliant, sinister scene when we see him without make up.
The adult cast all do a great job but I still wish that Beverly was played by Amy Adams. While Chastain does a fine job and thank God manages to portray Beverley's warmth and courage, Adams would have done much better. James McAvoy really delivers as older Bill, Andy Bean does a lot with little time he was given and Isaiah Mustafa does an admirable job delivering some truly ridiculous lines. Jay Ryan is very good as Ben, effortlessly capturing the kind and sweet nature of the character.

But it's James Ransone and especially Bill Hader that everyone is rightfully talking about. They deliver the laughs and emotions here. Ransone gets the film's funniest scene as Eddie is attacked by Bowers and really knocks it out of the park in his every moment. Muschietti really surprises in another moment - smuggling a pop song to turn Eddie's encounter with the leper into a funny scene and it really works. Hader gets to play the movie's comic relief which is even more rewarding if you are a fan of his - did anyone else think of Herb Welch when Richie was caught in the deadlights? Hader improvised so much here and he gets so many jokes and one liners, all of them landing and making the audience laugh. From his hilarious lines in Jade of the Orient scene, the running gag of Richie wanting to leave town (Hader takes a line as simple as "I've got dates in Reno, man" and makes it into comedy gold) to the hilarious scene with Eddie and Richie wondering which door to open, Hader alone carries this movie to another level and without his charismatic, wonderful presence, this really wouldn't be much fun.
But it's another thing that makes this performance stand out - comic relief character in horror never gets to be the heart of the film, but here he does. Muschietti was extremely lucky Hader is this talented - the homophobia is present in the film's grisly opening and heartbreaking flashback with Richie being bullied but none of that would be truly justified if it wasn't implied this is why Richie doesn't come out - but it is SOLELY thanks to Hader's excellent acting right after the flashback ends and we see the look on Richie's face when we connect the dots. It's maybe a few seconds long but Hader captures such heartbreak and loneliness in that moment, it actually made me cry. They do a good job with the script at some points, though - in Richie act he mentions he has a girlfriend but then it turns out that he doesn't write his own material.

It's the final scenes of the movie where Hader, on his own, makes this film even more emotional than the first one was. His scenes beginning with Eddie's death to Richie's smile in his final moment as he finishes the carving on the bridge are exquisite. When he tears up in the river and then effortlessly turns the serious moment into a lighthearted one with a single line....this moment right here shows so well just how skilled he is both drama and comedy and how well he moves between different tones. I only wish Muschietti focused on him more, let us see even more of this because Hader was bringing his A game there (which admittedly, he always does). The critics who praise this as his best performance have clearly not seen his work on The Skeleton Twins and Barry, though, as while he is truly wonderful here his work in the other two is superb and goes above most performances out there.
While the film is very long I never felt the length. But I do wish that with such length Muschietti did focus more on the older actors, it was not necessary to have this many scenes with the kids again. The chemistry between the older cast is really great and they do a beautiful job, effortlessly making us believe they still feel the bond that they shared 27 years back. But I loved the cast so much, I wish we did get more of their interactions, banter and the focus on them doing such great acting.

If you liked It, you should like this one too. It's done in the same style which is unfortunately very clunky. But the fun is back too and this one is certainly funnier and more epic than the first film. Also how often to we get huge horror blockbusters like this? Almost never. So let's appreciate this one.
80/100 (2019, 169 min)
Plot: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Gary Dauberman (screenplay by), Stephen King (based on the novel by)
Stars: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader

22 comments:

  1. I didn’t even notice the subtext about Bill Hader’s character, thanks for bringing that up, and led me to google a couple of articles on Richie.

    SPOILER: Regarding Eddie, I was bemused the group didn’t check his pulse, maybe off camera they did? If was me in the cave with a life in the balance, I would make 100% sure. I don’t know, maybe the novel is more definite.

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    1. I think they shot several different death scenes for Eddie, at least according to Hader they did. Muschietti did like 12 takes of everything so he had a lot of options to choose

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    2. Would add realism by checking his pulse, maybe will surface in a dir’s cut.
      If you are a Hader fan, I remember him geek out at Criterion DVD closet, funny and revealing. It’s only 2 min. I think he’s being ironic about Salo and Antichrist. Or maybe not :)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=348qOuXOAXo

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    3. It's hard to say with him, his mind is quite dark sometimes :D

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  2. That scene with Pennywise and the little girl- my vote for most terrifying. I was like yes kid walk away and then he started with the I'm so lonely to and I just couldn't help but think how many kids and women (and men) have probably been lured away exactly like that. It just got to me in ways it didn't with Georgie where I was thinking why are you talking to a clown in a sewer?

    And the end with Richie on the bridge made me tear up. Really glad you liked it as I know how much you were looking forward to it!

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    1. Right?! That was such a sinister scene and he was terrifying there. I stopped looking at the screen when he started to count I was like OH NO lol

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  3. You've certainly opened my eyes to certain elements of this, mainly the last act, it was pretty epic indeed. But I just don't understand where the scares were?

    I dunno, I know my mind is disturbed but I thought this was super creative in its incarnations of fear (the massive fly with the face of baby was my personal fave) but compared to say The VVitch or even Midsommar, which was more psychological, I just thought it was really tame. Lots of blood doesn't really do it for me.

    I do prefer psychological horror though so I guess its no wonder I preferred it infinitely more =/

    I was waiting for this post from you cos I wanted to ask you something specific to something you wrote months ago re- another film - did you not find the laughs in this film a detriment to the tension/horror? The cinema I was in, including myself at times, was laughing during supposedly scary scenes.

    The reason I ask you this is you said a very similar thing about Us, which I fully agreed with, and this reminded me of it a lot, the same kinda cheesy humour was mixed in with great scenes. It would have been different if they were totally separate, but they weren't =/

    Hader was awesome, but again his comic awesomeness was so distracting for me! Plus he outshone everyone else so easily, even McAvoy who I usually love

    But as always Sati, a great analysis that got me thinking about some things that slipped past me. Like you said, both are really similar and had - for me at least - most of the same problems, except the second had Hader which seemed both a blessing and a curse since he is so funny.

    But hey, this is the best thing about movies. We can totally disagree but still have a discussion about it, I always like to keep an open mind, especially as my memory often forgets bits of movies that you often remind me of in these sorta posts and therefore change my perspective.

    btw, a belated happy birthday Sati!! =] Keep an eye on the date, you'll be 35 before you know it =P

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    1. Blockbuster horror will never be as bold/thematically significant as something indie. There's too much money involved for the studio to agree to any insanity.

      Us was an indie psychological allegedly serious horror movie so there was no reason for the terrorized family to crack jokes all the time. This is a blockbuster horror film that is design to entertain first and foremost. It's a huge difference. Not to mention you have one of the characters literally use humor as his defense mechanism throughout his entire life.

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    2. Ahh. Yeah I see what you mean, with lots of money involved etc. That makes sense, I didn't even think of that.

      But... say we forget the blockbuster vs indie part and compare it to Us as just two films. So unlike Us, none of the humour here ruined any scenes for you? Or is this like a totally different type of film for you? Like a different genre i mean?

      For me they were both psychological horror movies, but in TOTALLY different ways. For It, most of the scary stuff was was the incarcerations of fear? I think? I haven't read all of the book so I'm not actually 100% sure on that

      Though, that part you wrote about using humour as a coping mechanism, that is an awesome observation, honestly! In hindsight that is spot on I think. That concept went right over my head, it makes total sense. I need to see this again now, it will feel totally different after reading your opinions. Especially the using humour as a coping mechanism part

      Goddamn sorry for the wall of text again. I just like talkin about movies and comparing opinions, they are are always so varied.

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    3. It's a totally different movie. I expected psychological horror and strong script from Us, I didn't expect crappy world-building and the family who was in legitimate peril cracking jokes. In IT I expected a horror blockbuster but you have Ben, Beverly, Mike and Bill being serious. The only two characters cracking jokes are Eddie - who was always sarcastic and neurotic breaking into nervous laughter when he is attacked and making jokes at his buddy and Richie and Richie who repressed his sexuality and made crude sexual jokes so much he literally made a career out of that. It's how he is. Humor as defense mechanism. And it's Hader who also does it all the time, making jokes at his own expense and who has lots of insecurities, even though he is this awesome person. It just fit. He improvised so much here, the impersonation of Pennywise in clubhouse to break the tension was all him too.

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    4. Yeah, it seems I was ready for a proper horror movie, and also hadn't seen the first one, so I walked out a little disappointed. I wasn't aware of this blockbuster element to it. I was hoping to at least feel tension, or unsettled. But the constant laughter made it hard.

      I'd like to see it again, by myself without an audience. Maybe the humour wouldn't stick out and bother me, I'd really like to be properly swept into the moment for that giant last sequence. A bit less energy towards the humour aspect of it would have made it much more appealing to me I reckon, but that's just a 'what if' question. I look forward to getting a 4K version of it to watch by myself.

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    5. If you watched this movie without watching the first one you completely screwed yourself here. You basically turned in halfway through the story.

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  4. An excellent review. I hope to see this movie very soon. Your reviews are seriously some of my favourites to read. And illustrated excellently.

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  5. I will watch part 1 soon enough, and then I will have to wait for part 2 to show up online, because I WILL NOT watch a horror movie in cinemas....at least at home I can watch it through my fingers and with the sound not too loud

    Happy to hear the cast is good; I really like Finn Wolfhard and Dylan Grazer, although I heard the latter is a bit arrogant. Also, damn, Ransone looks so much like Grazer, it's insane

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    1. Yeah this one was intense, I could barely look at times :)

      There's even a shot where Ransone's face morphs into Grazer, it's incredible!

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  6. I love this review and I agree with so many points. While I enjoyed the entire cast, Hader and Ransone really brought it. I think one of the reasons I loved Chapter 1 so much was the chemistry between the kids, and Chapter 2 didn't disappoint there either. The adults really move quickly past the awkward re-introductions and suddenly you could feel that bond again.

    Even Andy Bean shined, with what little he had, but Stan was always present throughout the movie, and that's a credit to Muschietti for making sure we all remembered him.

    Knowing IT is over now... I'm a little sad! :D but I can't wait to see this supercut of both films. I plan to go see Chapter 2 again this weekend, so we'll see if my feelings change on it, but I loved it. The only gripe I have is some of the iffy CGI, but I'm willing to deal with it.

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    1. Thank you! I just can't with that moment Chastain fed him her food. He leaned in as if for a kiss, I would die if I were on her place!

      I loved that. Bean was so great, he had so few moments but he really made Stan into such a compassionate and sweet character

      Me too! i hope Andy really does this super cut, he even says he wants to shoot a bit more for it!

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  7. Agree, it is a lot like the first one, holding up the quality, thank god. There were more child memories than I'd expected and i did jump (and screamed?) a good few times. The finale was incredibly moving. Great review, sati!

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  8. I'm torn on the kids. I think they needed those scenes with young Stan, but I also think they kind of shoehorned those flashbacks in because the kids were so popular last time. 1000% agree with Hader and Ransone being the best. They had the most amazing lines. Eddie yelling at Bowers about his mullet was so perfect.

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    1. Hader and Ransone having improvised most of it really saved Muschietti's ass, what the fuck even was that script without them :D

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