Did IT: Chapter 2 pull off the part one/two model like Avengers: Endgame did? Yes, right down to the same strengths and flaws.
When comparing two very different films, it's only fair to mention that Avengers: Endgame had a much larger challenge than that of IT: Chapter 2.
Endgame was attempting to culminate over a decade of films into one climactic conclusion, trying to keep each character’s screentime in proper balance (as all things should be). The end result was a film much more bloated than its predecessor, but was also proportionally more rewarding. There were lulls, but they were equalized by epic moments that were fruitful for diehard comic fans and casual movie patrons alike.
In a similar way, IT: Chapter 2 committed to the character progression of the massively thick Stephen King novel from whence it is adapted. Chapter 1 tackles the Losers club kids, as they attempt to combat the evil shapeshifting clown, Pennywise. Chapter 2 takes place 27 years later, when the same grown-up group must return to their home town of Derry to stop Pennywise again. And in order to pull off this lush and expansive character development, Pennywise needed to take a backseat for chunks of the runtime.
The end result paralleled that of Endgame, with scenes that drag amidst the bloated runtime, but are inevitably balanced with the culmination of climactic moments.
However, the fluff of Chapter 2 didn’t feel quite as significant as Endgame’s subplots. There seemed to be moments that could have hit the cutting room floor, working in the key elements into other, more pertinent scenes. For a significant portion of the film, each character operates independently from one another. And while this gives us ample opportunity to engage in how each character’s fear evolved through adulthood, it also becomes repetitive and predictable (similar to the Infinity Stone collecting of Endgame).
This structure limits the presence of the infamous Pennywise and Thanos, who noticeably appear sparingly for a good portion of the early story. The bloated scenes hurt the pacing and entertainment value of the films that are fueled in large part by their respective villains. But once everything is in place, the epic final acts are a worthwhile reward.
Courtesy of Warner Bros., Photo by Brooke Palmer
The first chapter of IT deserves accolades for the performances given by its child actors. They all deliver impressive showings, playing off of each other and the camera like seasoned vets, at times. The adult cast fills the shoes of the younger counterparts perfectly, projecting mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of their characters as children into their adult selves. And while this cast boasted the likes of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader, the show-stealer was most certainly James Ransone as the grown-up hypochondriac, Eddie. Whether alone or playing off castmate Hader, Ransone was gold in every scene. He brought levity to the horrific, and drama to the terrifying. He and Hader often had the audience in stitches ... of course, between scenes of grotesque monstrosities given by Pennywise.
IT: Chapter 2 brings everything together to a nice and tidy conclusion, much like Endgame did for the Avengers. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a five-hour-long commitment (between the two films) that set a standard for what mainstream horror fare can be. On multiple occasions, the film felt like a typical blockbuster, with its regular doses of comedy, action, and drama surrounding its horror-filled core. And to that end, it felt like a style all its own.
Perhaps it could lead to a new breed of horror cinema, or it could be merely a singular phenomenon of a Stephen King novel adapted to its best ability. If it is simply the latter, maybe we could still get more King adaptations at this level of quality in the near future.
Did you see IT: Chapter 2? If so, what did you think? Did it live up to the hype? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.