After two long years of waiting, It Chapter Two finally arrives this week. Soon, audiences will become reacquainted with Pennywise and the terrified citizens of Derry, Maine. But can the second chapter live up to the bonkers success of the first installment? After all, the first movie dealt with arguably everyone’s favorite part of the original Stephen King novel, the “kids” portion of the book. But with an all-star cast as the adult Loser’s Club, everyone was even more hyped than before.
So far, it seems like the response to this second installment is more muted than for the first, but still leaning positive. The highlights seem to be Bill Hader’s performance, as well as the returning kids from the first film. Still, almost everyone says the running time is way, way too long. The film clocks in at nearly 3 hours! Here’s what the first batch of reviews have to say, starting with our very own Kyle Anderson:
“Even though the movie feels cluttered, the heart of the characters and their story is still present. The metaphor of troubled adults dealing with their childhood trauma, literally returning to the moment of their greatest strife, is particularly strong.”
Peter Debruge of Variety says the movie is ultimately worth it, despite its length and the amount of time it takes to get to the final confrontation.
“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.”
Slashfilm’s Chris Evangelista calls the film “messy,” but nevertheless feels the film’s humanity shines through in its storytelling.
“It Chapter Two, a lengthy, messy, not-always-successful sequel, is one of those rare Stephen King adaptations that acknowledges that there’s more to King’s work than things that go bump in the night. There’s humanity.”
Dorian Parks from Geeks of Color still likes the first chapter more, but still finds a lot to love in its follow up.
“I might love the first movie a little bit more, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this movie as a whole. Andy Muschietti did a great job of not only staying faithful to the source material, but also adding fresh spins and ideas to this adaptation of a Stephen King classic.”
Another “not as good as the first, but still worth your time” review is from William Bibbiani from Bloody-Disgusting.
“So it isn’t as good as It Chapter One. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good time. The filmmakers have assembled a cornucopia of nightmare fuel, or at least a heck of a lot of amazing jump scares, and they’ve set them all in a row to get knocked over, domino-style. You won’t be bored. There’s too much insanity for that.”
Sarah Musnicky of Nightmarish Conjurings praises the concluding chapter as a fitting conclusion to King’s epic tale.
“Overall, It Chapter Two is a film that does a great job of concluding the story leftover from the previous installment without leaving the audience hanging. The film has so much heart and you can feel how much reverence Dauberman and the Muschiettis have for the source material. It is full of laughter and pain. Fun and terror. Fear and triumph.”
Despite liking the film overall, IGN’s Jim Vejvoda seems to echo other critics in their sentiments about the film’s pacing and length. But the incredible cast makes it a worthy follow-up.
“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.”
Although the New York Times’ A.O. Scott found that there was some joy to be found in the performances, it ultimately wasn’t enough to cut through all the bloat for him. A long book doesn’t necessarily work as a long movie it seems.
“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.”
Having less kind things to say overall is Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt, who calls this movie a “bloody, silly, overwrought sequel.” Ouch.
“Hader and Ransone do a lot to mitigate the long slog from one relentlessly ghoulish set piece to the next; their dry, side-mouthed humor brings much-needed levity in a movie that seems determined to reduce accomplished actors like McAvoy and Chastain to so much panicky meat-snack for Pennywise.”
But there are other critics who love the scale and ambition of this film, as noted by Empire’s Alex Godfrey:
“It is glorious to see this stuff envisioned on such a huge and self-assured scale, a joy to have a film of this size trading in this sort of genre carnage with such uncompromising and unapologetic style.”
So ultimately, it looks like if you loved the first It, you might still want to return for the second. But you just might not love it as much as the first.
Featured Image: Warner Brothers