‘It Chapter Two’ a solid sequel

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Photo courtesy of imdb.com

From left, Isaiah Mustafa, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Jay Ryan star in “It Chapter Two.”

Aly Sadowniczak, Entertainment Editor

No one has been able to successfully recreate and translate Stephen King’s writing onto screen.
If there is anyone who has come close it is Andrés Muschietti, director of It Chapters One and Two.
“It Chapter Two” (2019), sequel to “It Chapter One” (2017), takes place 27 years later, in 2016, after all the Losers Club have moved on from their haunting past. Except for Mike Hanlon, who stayed in his hometown of Derry, Maine, and calls each member of the group to return to Derry as promised to defeat Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once and for all.
Popcorn. Cotton Candy. I love Derry. “It Chapter Two’s” opening scene featuring a Pennywise-endorsed hate crime at the Derry Canal Days Fair flies straight off the pages of Stephen King’s 1986 novel the film is based upon.
This accuracy to the novel, along with its actors’ performances and cinematography, are what propel the film into a positive direction, despite its flaws.
Isaiah Mustafa is one of those brilliant actors who perfects Mike Hanlon’s character, noticeably nailing Chosen Jacob’s speech patterns from “Chapter One.” Unfortunately, Mike is still placed on the backburner, given little redemption by Muschietti from his limited screen time in “Chapter One,” and therefore hindering Mustafa’s full potential.
However, Bill Hader is notably “Chapter Two’s” stand out actor as comedian and trashmouth Richie Tozier. Hader obviously nails Richie’s humor being a comedian himself, but he never fails to deliver even when it comes to his serious marks.
Some changes from the source material are obviously given when a film adaptation is made. Muschietti’s decisions do not hurt King’s novel but rather amplify its themes, the best choice being the one made about Richie’s identity.
However, there are some jarring moments in this film that can really put a bad taste in a moviegoer’s mouth. The way Pennywise is dealt with in his final scene is an interesting choice to say the least, and despite the humor being consistently fresh, there are moments were it is inappropriate and seems like a downright mistake.
Additionally, “It Chapter Two” relied too much on CGI, with the de-aging technology used on the younger actors being most noticeable and off putting. The film’s more practical scares are much more effective, and the CGI reliance feels like an insult to King’s organic and suspenseful writing.
Speaking of King, he has a fantastic cameo in a scene that satirizes his critics as he speaks to famous horror writer Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), whose book endings are unfavorable by most, including directors.
Overall, “It Chapter Two” has outstanding cinematography, casting choices, and scenes that will knock a novel-fan’s socks off. But the film’s awkward and inconsistent pacing, CGI reliance, and Pennywise’s ultimate defeat muddles and downplays the film’s positive features.
“It Chapter Two” isn’t the last you’ll hear from King this year. King released his most recent novel, “The Institute” in September. A Netflix collaboration with his son, Joe Hill, is titled “In the Tall Grass” and launched in early October. King has four more screen adaptations coming up in the near future (“Doctor Sleep,” “The Stand,” “The Outsider,” and “Lisey’s Story”), with many more in the early stages of development.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if the new adaptations will be up to par with Muschietti’s work, or perhaps portray King’s unique writing even better than the “It” films have.