Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of IT: CHAPTER TWO?
It: Chapter Two is Muschietti's follow-up to 2017's critically acclaimed and massive worldwide box office hit "IT," which grossed over $700 million globally. Both redefining and transcending the genre, "IT" became part of the cultural zeitgeist as well as the highest-grossing horror film of all time.
Because every 27 years evil revisits the town of Derry, Maine, "It Chapter Two" brings the characters-who've long since gone their separate ways-back together as adults, nearly three decades after the events of the first film.
Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty," "Mama") stars as Beverly, James McAvoy ("Split," upcoming "Glass") as Bill, Bill Hader (HBO's "Barry," "The Skeleton Twins") as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa (TV's "Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments") as Mike, Jay Ryan (TV's "Mary Kills People") as Ben, James Ransone (HBO's "The Wire") as Eddie, and Andy Bean ("Allegiant," Starz' "Power") as Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. Bill Skarsgård returns in the seminal role of Pennywise.
Find out what the critics thought of It: Chapter Two below!
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter:
Why isn't It a prestige miniseries for some cable or streaming company? Andy Muschietti's two-part film clearly yearns for that format, not only in its patience-testing length - nearly three hours just for Chapter Two, with the director teasing reporters about the prospect of a 6.5-hour supercut - but in an episodic structure that frustrates those who expect certain kinds of dynamics in drama and suspense. Literally doubling the number of actors who played key roles in its predecessor, 2017's Chapter One, the film puts excellent thesps in the parts but winds up feeling much less satisfying. Even so, it'll likely be seen by a sizable percentage of the moviegoers who made the first film a worldwide hit.
Peter Debruge, Variety:
"It: Chapter Two" is much longer than it needs to be, but it builds to something significant - and a lot of that filler feels justifiable in terms of how audiences' consumption patterns are changing. Whereas the three-hour 1990 miniseries version was split across two nights, viewers now binge an entire season of "Stranger Things" - a shameless "It" knockoff that improves on King's novel - in a single weekend. In retrospect, it's easy to see that the 2017 film (already long at 135 minutes) was just a glorified trailer for this movie. Still, Muschetti could have used "It" to launch a franchise or an open-ended TV series, but instead, he recognizes the value in closure. In a way, closure is what "It" is all about: You start something as kids, and then life happens. You lose interest, or confidence, or maybe just your nerve. Such evasion is a kind of fear, and one that King confronted head-on with this novel. It's as if he's daring you to come back and see how much worse It can get. And Muschietti obliges, embellishing the childish phobias we thought we'd outgrown en route to defeating that creepy, fearmongering clown once and for all.
A.O. Scott, The New York Times:
Muschietti is also faithful to King's conviction that when it comes to plot, incident and audience time commitment, more is more. But page counts and running times work in different ways. An 1,100-page novel like "It" can be a breathless page-turner. But this 2-hour-49-minute movie drags more than it jumps, wearing out its premise and possibly also your patience as it lumbers toward the final showdown.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN:
The heart of the first film is still there in It Chapter Two - it's just buried under a layer of self-indulgent bloat. Director Andy Muschietti constructs a series of scary show-stoppers anchored by the compelling performances of his adult and teen actors. It's just a shame that It Chapter Two never quite finds its footing, pacing-wise, and as a result can't quite nail the conclusion of this engrossing saga.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
The new cast is outstanding - as you've probably already read, Bill Hader really delivers as Richie and James Ransone is fantastic as Eddie - but the tone is also different than the first film. Which, yes, makes sense since the first chapter was playing with the same kind of nostalgia that makes Stranger Things so popular - and there's this beaming innocence to that movie. Now, our characters are broken and the film itself is much darker. And not in that fake cool, "oh, yeah, a dark superhero movie," way - but more that there's a lot of disturbing imagery that's kind of shocking, compared to the first film. (It's so different I had to double-check after that the same team made this film.)
Brian Truitt, USA Today:
However solid the grown-ups are, the youngsters together - whether in the first film or the sequel - make "It" shine. But no matter what age the Losers, Muschietti inherently understands and captures what King does on the page: Even amid nonstop horrors - spider-legged severed heads, a demonic giant Paul Bunyan or that rascally Pennywise - the power of faith and friendship is what matters most.
Katie Rife, AV Club:
King's novel is, admittedly, also spread out and repetitive in its structure, so in this regard It Chapter Two is technically more faithful to the original than its predecessor. But in terms of adaptation, Chapter Two cuts out much of the connecting tissue that makes King's Losers a single living, breathing organism, making them less bronchi in a lung and more isolated cells floating down the same bloodstream. To wit: Although he's been restored to his rightful place as the Losers Club's semi-official historian, Mike is nevertheless pushed to the margins of the story by the removal of a key historical interlude in King's novel. This reframing, from the intergenerational trauma of the fire at the Black Spot to Mike's personal guilt at being unable to save his drug-addicted parents, is part of a larger shift away from the theme of ancient evil shaping history and towards a theme of childhood trauma and how it carries into adulthood.
Scott Mendelson, Forbes:
There is much to admire on the surface of It Chapter Two. There is something inspiring about a studio spending Event Horizon-level money on a three-hour, R-rated supernatural horror flick. Ambitions aside, It Chapter Two is not scary, lacks the rawness and ugly oomph of even the 1990 mini-series and doesn't remotely justify its length. It neuters its own macro storytelling with "personal" motivations and undercuts its drama with soothing comedy. I'm among the few critics who didn't care for It, so you may disagree with me about this one too. When your last film earns $700 million worldwide without a 3-D bump or a China play date, "more of what worked last time" makes sense. Making a sequel that Forbes box office pundit/film critic Scott Mendelson liked better was probably not high on New Line's priorities list.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
But disappointingly, It Chapter Two finds no clear and satisfying way of engaging with the obvious question: is Pennywise a metaphorical expression of the gang's inner horrors, or a standalone devil whose existence has nothing to do with the psychology of those ranged against him, or something between the two? Pennywise can be read in any or all of these ways, but there is nothing very interesting or revelatory about the clown's figurative possibilities because they are not teased out within the story. The grown-up gang of heroes may or may not be taming their private demons in tandem with Pennywise, and tackling your private agonies is a lifelong process. But the thought of these people lumbering back to Derry as oldsters in Chapter Three to do the same old scary-movie things with Pennywise all over again fills my heart with the kind of dread that nothing here approached.