*. I watched this movie more out of a sense of duty than a desire to see what happened. Since I’d read the book and seen the 1990 TV miniseries with Tim Curry I already knew the story. And the fact is I didn’t care much for It Chapter One. But in for a penny . . .
*. It Chapter One was most notable for the appearance of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, which quickly became the stuff of countless memes and Halloween costumes. He looked great. But having seen him already I wanted more, and at 169 minutes Chapter Two was going to be more. But more of what?
*. Unfortunately, not a lot more of anything good. Almost all the negative comments I had to make about Chapter One go for this film as well, just as many of the scenes are virtually repeated. A bathroom filling with blood turns into a washroom stall filling with blood. Billy kills the monster disguised as his little brother again.
*. Pennywise still looks and talks the same, and, what’s more upsetting, he goes about trying to scare us the same way. That is, by jumping out of the shadows or suddenly lunging at the camera with his big mouth stretching open so he can show off all his teeth. Director Andy Muschetti keeps going back to the same jump-scare effect with Pennywise (and he does it with the grown-up bully Bowers too) again and again and again. It’s not scary at all and is even tiring after a while.
*. But things get even worse. Instead of trying to do anything really scary the decision seems to have been made to just give audiences more monsters. CGI monsters. CGI monsters that look very silly. Remarkably, they look even sillier than in Chapter One. I am not a hard person to creep out, but the Mrs. Kersh monster made me laugh out loud, with the John Bunyan statue and the Leper (Javier Botet in a ridiculous mask) being very nearly as bad. The fortune-cookie creatures were a joke too. Indeed, the CGI throughout is so bad I have trouble understanding how it passed muster. Did nobody involved realize how terrible the effects were showing on screen?
*. But hold on, because it’s even worse than that. The Loser gang, despite being reasonably well played by a capable cast, aren’t that interesting or even sympathetic. Maybe it’s just me, but I found I didn’t like them more than I liked them as kids. So for most of the movie you’re just waiting for Pennywise to show up and do his thing. In other words, to get on with it.
*. Aside from the CGI it’s a good-looking movie. But it’s too long (the 1990 version told the whole story in almost the same amount of time), and too predictable. As Leah Pickett writes, “After a while, watching old story lines and scares reoccur produces diminishing returns.” It wants to be more of a character-driven story but I just couldn’t care about the Losers at all. The structure is a clumsy mess and the pace drags. I agree with Mark Kermode’s observation that it feels like a TV miniseries, which was very much how most franchise filmmaking was starting to feel at this time (as with the Star Wars and Marvel universes). The ending descends into a warm bath of schmaltz. Be true to yourself. Stand by your friends. I said I wanted more, but what I meant by that is that I wanted something better. I think even the most charitable view would be that Chapter Two is only less of the same.