Following its star-studded Los Angeles premiere last week, reviews have begun to roll in for “It: Chapter Two,” the highly anticipated sequel to Andy Muschietti’s monster hit based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel.
The conclusion to the horror saga, starring bold-faced names such as Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Finn Wolfhard, and Bill Skarsgard, currently sits at an impressive 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While reviewers praised the many stars’ acting chops, including a scene-stealing performance by Hader, many others criticized the film’s lengthy 169-minute running time.
“It: Chapter Two” hits theaters Sept. 6
“Muschietti has a strange narrative challenge to overcome here: On one hand, he’s obliged to compress all the plot that King could indulge in more than 1,100 pages (which explains why other killings and the local police’s dead-end investigations don’t make the cut), while on the other, he’s motivated to delay the final confrontation between Pennywise and the reunited Losers Club for as long as possible.Nearly all the scares that follow are hallucinatory in nature, most of them sight gags made possible by CGI: Tiny digital monsters burst out of fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant; a Paul Bunyan statue lumbers cartoonishly after Richie with his giant ax; virtual spider legs sprout from an old friend’s decapitated head, skittering around like something out of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (a lot of the movie’s Lovecraft-ian moments owe a debt to that film, which achieved its trippy creature transformations practically).”
“But really, the main problem with ‘Chapter Two’ is that it goes on, and on, for so very long. If brevity is not necessarily the soul of a good scare, it would certainly serve a story that sends in the clowns, and then lets them just stay there — leering and lurking and chewing through scene after scene — until the there’s nothing left to do but laugh, or leave.”
“Despite some massive updates from the first film, including the addition of an entirely new cast of much-less-plucky adults and a vibe so dark it borders on the grotesque, this ‘It’ is not so different than its predecessor. It’s not quite the end of it, it’s more a continuation of it, and one plagued by old problems that should have been solved long before it even attempted to conclude itself. Still, much of the promise is held: It is the end of something, and a haltingly satisfying one at that.”
“Then, suddenly, you’re three-quarters of the way through this 170-minute film, and you realize that, although the horror imagery has only accelerated, your heartbeat has been slow and your fists unclenched for a while now. The film isn’t an abject failure by any means; it has some funny jokes, a couple of really good performances, impressive creature and set design, and pleasing cinematography. But when it comes down to it, ‘It: Chapter Two’ just isn’t all that scary.”
“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.”
“There is some lively stuff here, including a few sensational cameos and interesting ideas about confronting one’s personal demons, about homophobia, abuse and depression. ‘It’ is also about the ubiquitous availability of the past in the digital age and the permanent reunion-stalkerthon of social media, and about the way guilt and shame are built into what we choose to remember and forget about our teenage years. But, like the first film, it becomes a virtual non-narrative anthology of standard jump-scares that could be reshuffled and shown in any order. The second time around, your tolerance for this is tested to destruction and beyond because, unlike the first movie, it is just so pointlessly long: approaching three hours, with our heroes finally beginning to assume a glassy-eyed solemnity like Hogwarts graduates or the Fellowship of the Ring.”
“‘It Chapter Two’ isn’t better than Chapter One. It’s certainly not scarier. Here’s the thing, though: when it counts, it’s every bit as thrilling. Muschietti and his team have made a bold, fitfully stylish, frequently shocking film that somehow does justice to King’s mad, and very hard to pin down, novel.”
“The adults of ‘Chapter Two’ are very well-cast, which is a tall order after the exceptional kids of the first film. Hader is hilarious, and McAvoy’s big eyes are pools of torment. The whole group clicks as well as their young counterparts. That said, I miss those little punks. They pop up here and there in flashbacks, but it’s not the same as having innocent kids defeat the bad guy as they come of age. That’s a more gripping story than adults who need therapy.”
“Director Andy Muschietti returns for ‘Chapter Two’ with a vision that is bigger and more ambitious in just about every way. The runtime is epic, the spectacle is more spectacular, the CGI is on full blast, the film bounces between timelines (meaning the cast is twice as big with both the adult and younger versions at play) and the content is more mythological. The bold strides are admirable and some of them work like a charm, but often the massive scope makes ‘Chapter Two’ feel too sprawling and, sometimes, disjointed and buckling under the weight of those ambitions.”