“It Chapter 2” a comprehensive review: Even perfect casting can’t fix this carnival of mismatched genres

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“It Chapter 2” a comprehensive review: Even perfect casting can’t fix this carnival of mismatched genres

Jacob Ford, Reporter

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Andy Muschietti’s revamp of “It” surprised audiences around the world with its quality.

Muschietti made the brilliant choice of crafting the film more like an adventure than a horror flick. The result is an exciting horror-epic, a genre combo that is hard to come by but works wonderfully. Its emphasis on adventure didn’t take away from the film’s scare factor, featuring scenes like the cellar, the library, the now iconic dancing clown moment and that spectacularly composed prologue.  All-in-all, Muschietti’s “It” is a spectacular horror-epic.

“It Chapter 2” picks up 27 years after the first. The Losers Club is all grown up now, and each has moved far away from Derry, except for Mike. When Pennywise returns and starts killing the innocent people of Derry, Mike calls the disbanded Losers and reminds them of the oath they took to return to kill It when the next cycle began. Having forgotten everything that happened in their childhood, the Losers return to Derry to have nostalgia, memories and fears refill their minds. Staying true to their oath, the Losers join forces to take down Pennywise once and for all.

Without a doubt, the greatest merit of “It Chapter 2” is its casting. Casting for the “It” sequel filled the news after the release of the first film, with many articles highlighting each of the young actors’ choices for who should play the grown- up versions of their characters. Ultimately, Finn Wolfhard and Sophia Lillis’ wishes came true, and Bill Hader and Jessica Chastain were cast. One more celebrity was added to the cast, James McAvoy, to play the older version of Bill.

The casting of the other four Losers, however, hardly made headlines, as largely unfamiliar names like Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean filled the rest of the main cast.

The best thing about the casting of “It Chapter 2” is not only that Hader, Chastain, McAvoy, Mustafa, Ryan, Ransone and Bean look perfect for the part, but that these actors took on their roles so completely. They genuinely feel like the older versions of the characters we got to know so well.

When you have a leading cast of seven and James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain are the least captivating performers, clearly some spectacular casting has occurred. This fact is easily the best part of “It Chapter 2,” and it’s exactly the kind of thing modern audiences love.

One of the most immediately popular aspects of “It Chapter 2” is Bill Hader’s performance as the grown-up Richie. Hader is a comedian before he is an actor, and like Finn Wolfhard in the first film, is the main source of comic relief for Chapter 2.

Unlike Wolfhard in “It,” however, Hader’s work isn’t as much comic relief as it is straightforward comedy. There is a significant difference here, which is ultimately the drawback of the sequel.

In “It,” Richie’s comedy was found in Wolfhard’s performance and one-liners scattered throughout the script. In this sequel, Richie’s comedy is much more intentional. Rather than being merely one-liners relying on their delivery, his character’s comedy is as situational as it is witty. As a result, there are whole scenes whose payoff is a punchline rather than a scare or a plot point, as was the case in the first film.

This point is a mere representative of a much larger issue with the film. Where “It” bent the film’s genre by making it as much adventure as it was horror, the sequel continues to genre bend by making “It Chapter 2” primarily a franchise film.

Rather than being an adventure film with strong horror influence and moderated comic relief, “It Chapter 2” is a franchise film with imbalanced amounts of adventure, comedy, horror, action and commercial appeasement.

This is perhaps best evidenced through the Mrs. Kersh scene. This scene is spectacularly eerie in the well-received trailer; however, come its playout in the theatrical film, the audience is confused about how to react. This scene is the best crafted suspense in the film, but because of its status as a franchise film and the resulting marketing, it is spoiled. 

“It Chapter 2” has a lot of issues that simply weren’t present in the first film, all of which result from the fact that this was made as a franchise film and not as an artistic, adventure-horror. 

For one, the film is overcrowded with flashbacks, contributing to the film’s unnecessarily long runtime. Second, it is structured surprisingly like “Avengers: Endgame,” not just in the fact that aspects of their plots are almost identical, but also regarding how it tries to balance all the different genres.

Ultimately, “It Chapter 2” is far from the quality of its predecessor, behaving too much like a franchise film to be the exciting, adventure-horror flick that was the 2017 “It.” 

I give “It Chapter 2” a 6.7/10.

Jacob Ford is a senior English Major who kinda loves movies and writes about them on www.boymeetsfilm.com.