Twenty-seven years have passed for the Losers Club, and two years have passed in real time since It: Chapter One made its way into theaters. This weekend, the second chapter in Andy Muschietti’s It duology has premiered and left fans with mixed reactions.
In this review, we shall discuss It: Chapter Two, the epic conclusion to the horrific battle between the seven children of Derry and the amorphous being known as Pennywise. As the title suggests, there will be spoilers.
If you have not yet seen the movie, its predecessor, the 1990 miniseries, nor have read the Stephen King novel, do so now or read at your own risk.
Shortly after the release of the first film, director Andy Muschietti and his sister/producer Barbara Muschietti said they would put out a director’s cut of the film which included additional scenes that didn’t make the final cut and other scenes from the book that stayed closer to the source material. That didn’t come to light, and so his intentions for the sequel was to use those scenes and fit them into his little puzzle while utilizing the novel’s plot structure, which smoothly transitioned between the teenage and adult Losers’ sides of the narrative. This type of storytelling is unique because it uses past and present characters and never lets you know what the time setting is. You can just tell.
This worked, and what we received was a film that had a ton of fan service. One issue that people had with the film was that its runtime was much too long, but you’ve never seen a short Stephen King adaptation ever. The It novel consisted of over one-thousand pages of a story that shifted between 1958 and 1985, and seldom do you see an epic film that has ever been under two hours. (Think of The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Nolan’s Dark Knight films, Avengers: Endgame, etc.) Another issue was that audiences didn’t think this sequel would live up to its predecessor. In my opinion, Chapter Two did numbers on me, as it featured a lot of elements I was hoping the sequel to have. More on that later.
The cinematography was just astounding. If the first actual scene, Adrian Mellon’s death wasn’t enough to keep your eyes wide and heart beating, you wouldn’t have made it to the terrors at the Jade of the Orient restaurant or even as far as the final confrontation during the Ritual of Chud.
Cast of Actors
The cast of the adult Losers Club lived up to the teenage Losers, and for the most part, they made sure to stay in character with their younger counterparts. Andy Bean (Swamp Thing) remained the Stanley Uris that we would feel for when we saw Wyatt Oleff’s version on-screen. Jay Ryan and Jeremy Ray Taylor kept the faith alive as Ben Hanscom and more so with Jessica Chastain and Sophia Lillis as Beverly “Bev” Marsh. Ryan and Taylor’s Ben made it clear that the character was still in love with Beverly, and Chastain and Lillis’s Beverly made sure that the female character would remain strong in the presence of evil and distress.
James McAvoy was the trickiest of the seven, as it was hard to keep the leadership role as Bill Denbrough as Jaeden had. Isaiah Mustafa executed the role of adult Mike Hanlon just as great as Chosen Jacobs but perhaps with more screentime.
Teach Grant did terrifyingly well as Nicholas Hamilton had with the bully Henry Bowers from the moment he escaped Juniper Hill asylum until his death in the library, as opposed to the novel and miniseries’s death in the Derry Town House.
Who stood out the most in this film were Bill Hader and James Ransone as adults Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier and Eddie Kaspbrak, respectively. They kept their character’s childish roots that Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer had with the 1989 version of the characters. And once again, Bill Skarsgard upped the ante as Pennywise. You just could not give him enough credit.
The development of these characters exceeded my expectations as the adapted source material was on point. What the Losers in the film came out to be as adults profoundly resembled that of the adults in the novel.
- Mike Hanlon remained the narrator for much of what was going on in Derry as the other Losers departed to other places. The librarian character, in both the novel’s interludes and the film’s introductory and end scenes, chronicled the events leading up to the ultimate demise of Pennywise.
- Bill Denbrough remained the King-esque writer of horror film adaptations married to the beautiful actress Audra Phillips. In the novel, he had an affinity for his bicycle Silver, and this was greatly executed in one scene which shared a cameo with It novel author Stephen King. The film’s relationship between Bill and Silver in that scene (and if digital releases have deleted scenes) was what convinced me that McAvoy would do good in the role.
- Eddie Kaspbrak remained the nervous individual from the novel who had run a limousine business and was married to a woman who physically resembled his mother.
- Richie Tozier remained the comedian of the group who never married although, in the novel, was implied to have some love towards one of the male members of the Club. In the film, it was made clear that Richie was in love with Eddie.
- Ben Hanscom, like in the novel, lost a lot of weight after leaving Derry as a kid then went on to become a successful architect.
- Stanley “Stan” Uris was the fastidious character who, like the novel’s version, had a fascination for birds and lived a simple life.
- Beverly “Bev” Marsh remained the female lead who was abused by her husband Tom Rogan, whose character traits were just like that of her father. Beverly stood her ground in order to leave home to return to Derry.
Unlike the novel, it seemed almost a bit easier for this film’s version of the adult Losers to retain their memory of home, of each other, and of the events that surrounded that. However, like the novel, Mike had the remaining members trace their footsteps and remember what living at home was like.
The film brings back jokes from its predecessor with some corny lines here and there from Richie Tozier such as his “overdue” joke after killing Henry and his insult at the terrifying dog when he says “I know your moves, you little bitch!” Richie becomes the strength of the story as he overcomes his secret homosexuality. Bill Hader brings back Finn Wolfhard’s “measuring dicks” and “let’s kill this fucking clown” lines and provides levity over the multitude of scares.
In terms of chemistry between characters, Bill Hader and James Ransone had the best dynamic as Richie and Eddie. Adults Ben and Bev’s relationship look cute, but it wasn’t as great as Bill and Bev.
In addition, Pennywise’s development was great until it got to the end when the Losers diminished It’s power and size. The antagonist’s defeat could have been wrought out a different way, and perhaps this is where the movie flawed.
A majority of It: Chapter Two was very faithful to the source material, and it must be reiterated that the first film did not accomplish feat especially with the scarce development of its seven central characters. The film didn’t include the Black Spot massacre, which was a letdown, but major plot points from the novel made up for this. Bill’s subplot with the skateboard kid Dean didn’t have to be so extensive to the point that we had to see the boy die, and that screentime could have had used Bev’s husband Tom Rogan and Bill’s wife Audra Phillips-Denbrough in a subplot as well. In the following section of this article, I shall include Easter Eggs from the film crucial to the novel’s material.
It: Chapter Two focuses heavily on memory and the power of faith. Adult Mike introduces us to the former concept, saying that people choose who they remember. “We are what we wish to forget.” This is true for people who want to change for themselves in their lives. We see the Losers trying to remember living in their hometown was like, and memory is just another part of growing up. “What we leave in the past comes back for you.” Derry is representative of the world we live in now, and although most people perceive this as a horror film filled with creatures and fear-inducing forms, this Stephen King adaptation, like much of his works, show that true horror derives from human beings. Right from the start, we’re shown that homosexuality and homophobia would add to this. The death of Adrian Mellon is a scene that fits the narrative of 2019 (or of the 2016 setting in which the adults endure the film’s events). Pennywise is the embodiment of evil, and it uses human pawns such as homophobe and bully Henry Bowers to achieve what it wants.
Faith is another major theme and is what ultimately what kills Pennywise. As young Stan says, “I know I am a Loser and no matter what, I always fucking will be!” We should embrace who we are and learn to have faith in those who build us up. As the adult Losers said, “We didn’t do it alone then, [and] we’re not doing it alone now.” Eddie was killed because It discovered the adult had the faith to nearly kill the Leper.
Homosexuality becomes another theme in this film; Adrian Mellon and Richie Tozier are victims of violence at the hands of homophobia. If the film used the Black Spot event, which had a theme of racism, the film might just have something for everybody. Evil can be tempting, and such is the case when Pennywise lures in the little girl under the baseball bleachers. When the Losers say “all living things abide by the shape they inhabit,” they also imply that evil takes many forms, and it doesn’t always have to deal with It.
The film can also be praised for once again bringing back nostalgia from the 1980s and 90s, such as when Juice Newton’s song “Angel of the Morning” plays as the Leper gushes blood or puss into young Eddie’s face during the pharmacy scene.
Some forms of It could have been scarier such as Mrs. Kersh or Winter Fire Beverly, and although original for the movie, it just didn’t work quite than if they were to use the novel’s forms of Pennywise.
Overall, It: Chapter Two teaches us that “nothing lasts forever” because “change is scary,” and this can involve evil. Having a happy ending and closure comes at a cost, and not everyone gets what they deserve. Love conquers all evil and gets us through any obstacle (as is in Ben and Bev’s situation), and so does faith. The film has splendid cinematography along with a cast of great actors who develop their characters so well. Chapter Two takes themes from the novel such as memory, love, faith, and homophobia but seems to forget that racism is just as crucial. Andy Muschietti accomplishes at taking Stephen King’s famed novel and spins its source material into something that only fans could appreciate. Although it lacks in character dynamics and several attempted scares, the film has almost everything else that’s important to the novel, culminating into nearly one epic conclusion.
8.0 out of 10
Easter Eggs, References, and Trivia Facts:
- The novel and the film utilizes this deadly light which entrances whoever comes into contact with it.
- The Death of Adrian Mellon
- This homosexual’s brutal death is the final straw that urges Mike Hanlon to call upon his old friends. Like the novel, Mellon walks away from the Derry fair with his Derry-native lover Don Hagarty, and on a Derry bridge, Mellon is hurled off and murdered by Pennywise. “I Love Derry” is the last thing anyone would want to say.
- “Meg Ryan called. She wants her wig back.”
- Adrian Mellon’s comeback insult at one of the homophobic young adults. Meg Ryan is later seen in a movie poster for the film “You’ve Got Mail” at the Derry Capitol, which will be explained later.
- “COME HOME”
- At the scene of the crime, Mike witnesses these words written below the bridge where Adrian was killed, possibly used with his blood. These words were found at the end of the novel’s tenth chapter “The Reunion” fourth section “The Losers Get the Scoop” in which Mike tells his friend that the murders have started again.
- The Attic Room
- Bill Denbrough’s film adaptation in which his wife Audra is starring in is the title of the same film project the character is working on in the novel. It is referenced in the character’s introductory in Chapter 3 “Six Phone Calls (1985)” Section 6 “Bill Denbrough Takes Time Out” Page 132 (2016 Scribner version.
- In the film, Richie Tozier introduces himself as Trashmouth Tozier, a nickname heavily used throughout the entirety of the novel.
- Brandon Crane
- The actor who played the young Ben Hanscom in the 1990 miniseries makes a cameo in a standing role during Ben’s architecture conference call. It’s good to see him again!
- Bird Puzzle
- Stan’s love for birds is referenced during his introduction. Upon looking for the final puzzle piece of the bird picture, Stan receives a call from Mike Hanlon to return home, resulting in his untimely suicide via slashing of wrists in the bathtub. In the novel, the character had a bird book which he tried to use to repel the force of Pennywise.
- Jade of the Orient
- This Asian restaurant is where the Losers meet in Chapter 10: “The Reunion” and witness their first adult confrontation with It. In the film, when the Losers are leaving, Dean the skateboard kid tells them “The fun’s just beginning, right?” Although, it is immediately revealed to be a line from Richie’s stand-up comedy. It is here that Dean becomes a character in Bill’s subplot.
- Jabba the Hutt
- At the Jade of the Orient, Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier makes fun of Eddie’s mother, the first of many crude mom jokes. Richie uses the voice of the fat Star Wars character to poke fun of Eddie’s mother’s weight.
- The Losers Get Dessert
- Like the novel, the Losers are attacked by their fortune cookies and only they can see that It is aware of their return.
- Henry Bower’s Escape
- In the novel, Pennywise takes the form of a Doberman and attacks the asylum security guard. In the film, a zombified version of Patrick Hockstetter creeps out from under Henry’s bed and hands him his knife.
- In both versions, Henry escapes in a car driven by one of his friends, but in the film, the driver is Patrick and the vehicle is Henry’s from the first film. In the novel, the vehicle was implied to be Christine, the killer car from another Stephen King story.
- Native American Artifact
- The Native American tool used for the Ritual of Chud was never used in the novel, and instead, the young Losers researched how to find Pennywise’s origins and weaknesses whereas Mike did this as an adult. The ritual in both the film and novel required for the character(s) to inhale smoke to see these hallucinations.
- The Clubhouse in the Barrens
- In both the novel and film, young Ben constructs for his friends an underground clubhouse, a safe place where the Losers can take refuge for Henry and his friends. The Losers undergo the ritual as children in an event in the novel called the Smokehole. In the film, they do this as adults. In flashbacks, young Stan distributes hairnets in case spiders get in the Losers’ hair. The hairnet will be Stan’s token.
- In the first film, the clubhouse may have been hinted at, and the Losers were never seen to hang out as much at the Barrens. Chapter Two confirms that they did actually have some adventures here.
- Rock Fight
- The iconic Rock Fight event was referenced in the film, and the clubhouse was constructed shortly after.
- The Lost Boys (1987) poster
- This Joel Schumacher movie poster can be seen in the film’s clubhouse. In The Lost Boys, two brothers move to a small town, where they have to take down a gang of evil boys. This plot coincides with the Losers’ conflict with Henry and his friends.
- Mike has the remaining Losers retrace their steps, much like the novel’s eleventh chapter, “Walking Tours.” In the film, however, the Losers must find a token of their childhood to burn in the artifact as personal sacrifices for the Ritual.
- Mrs. Kersh aka the Witch
- Beverly’s token is Ben’s haiku, which is found at her childhood home. (Upon coming home, Beverly has a flashback to childhood where she and her father mention Mrs. Marsh had passed. In the novel, Beverly’s mother is alive and well, and they might have left Derry after the Losers’ confrontation with It as children.) In both the novel and the film, the character encounters the dirty old Mrs. Kersh, who offers a cup of tea. The woman is eventually revealed to be the witch from Hansel and Gretel.
- “You’ve Got Mail”
- Richie Tozier enters the Derry Capitol, where this 1998 movie poster is found in the background. The Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan film is about two adults who reconcile over online messages, much of what Mike tries to do in Chapter Two. The movie poster is torn halfway between Hanks and Ryan, implying that connections can be severed.
- Street Fighter
- Richie was seen playing this game in the first film. The arcade game in the second film has a bigger impact on the character.
- Paul Bunyan statue
- In the film, young Richie is driven out of the Capitol by Henry Bowers, who makes homophobic remarks towards Richie in defense of his cousin. In the novel, Richie is chased out of Freese’s Toy Store by Henry and his friends. In both versions, Richie takes refuge nearby a Paul Bunyan statue, which comes alive and attacks him. In the film, Pennywise floats off the statue using a bundle of red balloons and confronts the adult Richie Tozier.
- Silver, Stephen King, and The Black Rapids
- Bill’s best inanimate friend Silver is seen in an antique store and buys it from the store’s proprietor, much like what occurs in the novel. Upon the purchase, Bills realizes that Silver needs much repairing. Bill yells out his iconic catchphrase, “HI-HO, SILVER…AWAY!!!”
- The Black Rapids is another novel that Bill writes that becomes a film adaptation. In the film, the store’s owner, author Stephen King in a cameo, says that he didn’t like the ending. Bill’s film director at the beginning of both the novel and film says almost the same thing about the current film adaptation they are working on. This could also be a loose reference to the King novel Misery.
- Skateboard kid
- Like the novel, Bill confronts a kid on a skateboard, but this subplot becomes something more than the original story. This kid is the same child from the Jade of the Orient.
- At this particular point in the film, Bill reaches into the storm drain for the boat he made for his younger brother Georgie. The boat is Bill’s token for the ritual.
- Turtle cameo
- Ben’s token is his yearbook page with only Beverly’s signature written on it. He acquires this from his old high school, where a turtle cameo can be seen in a classroom. In the novel, the Turtle is the Losers’ God-like figure to Pennywise’s Satan.
- Winter Fire
- Young Ben’s encounter with It is a demonlike Beverly described by the boy’s haiku: “hair is winter fire.” Like the novel, Ben’s encounter is an after-school special and does deal with winter.
- Director Andy Muschietti’s Cameo at Mr. Keene’s Pharmacy; Gretta’s cameo
- The director of the film makes a background cameo as Eddie Kaspbrak walks up to the counter of the pharmacy. Eddie’s token for the ritual is his inhaler, which is a vital tool and weapon in the novel. Young Eddie’s encounter with It is, once again (and like the novel), the homeless Leper.
- Beverly’s bully Gretta makes a cameo as an adult. In the novel, adult Eddie visits an abandoned sandlot used for baseball, where he recounts that Gretta was killed in a car crash. It is at this sandlot where Eddie is haunted by zombified versions of his deceased bullies.
- Henry’s Attacks on the Losers, then his Death
- In the novel, Henry attacks Eddie at the Town House at nighttime after wounding Mike at the library, sending the latter to the hospital. In the film, Henry attacks Eddie first, this time in broad daylight.
- In the novel, Henry is killed by Eddie in the Town House, but in the film, he is chopped by Richie using a tomahawk found in the library.
- Tim Curry as Pennywise
- During Bill’s side mission finding Dean in the carnival, an attraction features several clowns resembling Tim Curry’s Pennywise from the 1990 miniseries. This was first found in the first trailer for It: Chapter Two.
- Mike Hanlon’s Help
- In the novel, Henry’s attack on the Losers lands Mike in the hospital. In the film, Mike survives this and lends a hand in helping the Losers take down Pennywise.
- The Adults in the Neibolt House
- Upon their journey into the Neibolt house, the Losers pass a fireplace which reads “Good Friends” on it like in the novel. Richie makes another joke, in which one of his friends then says, “Beep beep, Richie.” This is a line the Losers use when Richie is being too much of himself.
- When the Losers are separated, Ben’s H scar resurfaces. In the novel, the H is supposed to be for “Henry,” but in the film, it says “Home at Last.” Elsewhere, adults Bill, Eddie, and Richie find a young zombified Stan in the refrigerator where Pennywise popped out from in the first film. Stan’s head falls from its body, eventually growing spiders out from its sides. (This perhaps teases Pennywise in Its true form.) In the novel, the Losers find their deceased friend in a refrigerator in Mike’s library space.
- The Ritual of Chud
- In Its lair, the ritual is conducted. Bev’s haiku letter from Ben, Bill’s boat, Eddie’s inhaler, Ben’s yearbook page, Richie’s arcade token, the rock that young Bev had thrown at Henry to save Mike, and Stan’s hairnet are used.
- In the novel, the ritual is conducted in the clubhouse. The Losers couldn’t tolerate it much, with Mike and Richie staying in the longest.
- During the final confrontation of both versions of the story, Pennywise’s true form is revealed to be that of a Spider. In the novel, the Losers find eggs in Its lair, heavily revealing further that It is a female extraterrestrial being. This isn’t such the case in the film.
- The Three Doors
- When separated in Its lair, adult Richie encounters the three doors that he found in the Neibolt home as a child. As an adult, he finds these doors with Eddie, but as a child, with Bill. In the first film, Bill and Richie find the top half of their missing classmate. In Chapter Two, Eddie and Richie find the bottom half of her corpse.
- It should be noted that these doors were never used in the novel.
- Ben and Bev’s Love for Each Other; “The Shining” Reference
- When they are separated, Ben is dropped into the clubhouse, where he is buried alive with dirt. Beverly is dropped into her high school restroom stall, where she took refuge as a teenager at the beginning of the first film. It was reported that this scene would utilize many gallons of blood, and this was no joke.
- In this same scene, Beverly’s harassers (Mr. Keene, Gretta, Al Marsh, Henry Bowers) are banging on the stall door. You just might miss young Henry’s head sticking through the cracks and screaming, “Here’s Johnny!” which is a reference to King’s other novel, The Shining.
- Eddie’s Death
- In the novel, Eddie saves the Losers by squeezing his inhaler into Its throat. The Spider ultimately bites his arm off, and he dies from a lack of blood.
- In the film, Eddie is impaled by one of the Spider legs and thrown off to the side of the lair.
- “Yipee Kiyay”
- Richie uses this line from Die Hard but is caught in Pennywise’s Deadlights. In the novel, Richie and Bill are caught in the Deadlights and are guided by the Turtle to take down It.
- “I Am The Eater of Worlds”
- Like the novel, Pennywise says this line from the film, referencing It has come from another world, having lived on Earth for what Mike says “few million years.”
- When the Losers controversially denounce their belief in It, Ben calls Pennywise “a motherfucking stupid mummy.” This is a reference to a brief form that It took at the end of the first film and a form of It during young Ben’s first confrontation in the novel. After school one winter afternoon, Ben walks home and finds a mummy on the ice.
- It’s Death
- Like the novel, the Losers ultimately defeat Pennywise by crushing Its heart. Pennywise’s lair crumbles down along with the Neibolt home. In the novel, the commotion spreads throughout the town. The Derry mall is destroyed, and some civilians are killed in the process.
- After the final demise of It, the Losers’ scars disappear, implying their faith in each other and their disbelief in It had worked. This happened in the novel as well.
- Nightmare on Elm Street 5
- This title can be seen at the Derry Capitol as the Losers pass by. This 1989 film was also referenced in the first film.
- Tom and Audra
- Bev’s husband and Bill’s wife did not make the final cut. In the novel, Tom is another pawn of It and Audra is catatonic. The book’s ending is more powerful; Bill uses Silver to bring Audra back to consciousness.
- Forgetting; the Losers Part Ways
- In the film, Bill asks Mike if they will ever forget each other. The novel puts this into motion as the Losers part ways and eventually lose their memory of each other and of Derry, although Ben and Beverly end up falling in love and moving away.
- The final narration is spoken by Mike, or rather Stan via suicide letters. In the novel, the final words are written by Bill.
It: Chapter Two is out in theaters now!