It Chapter Two (2019)
September 7, 2019 1:26 PM - Subscribe

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
posted by snerson (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just finished watching this and I've come away with fairly mixed feelings. There are some really beautiful/horrific visual moments that are worth experiencing. But the story ultimately feels very empty. I think the issue is that it's easier to connect with the children in Chapter One.

The casting for the adults is spot on, but we don't spend enough time with them to really care about who they've turned out to be. The film seems to walk us through those emotions and hold our hands, as if to say: "Remember Ben and Beverly and Richie, well here they are and they're broken and you should care and they're haunted."

I enjoyed moments of this film but there's an emptiness to it that only makes me long for the kids in the first. I wish we had more time to spend with them. Those are the losers I miss the most.
posted by Fizz at 2:43 PM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Man, I had a bunch of feelings and unanswered questions here.

A lot of those feelings were positive. I got some genuine scares. The kids and the grown actors blended their performances so well. Bill Hader knocked it out of the park, in particular (although I did not care for the gross fat joke that came at an emotional bloodstained time). Some moral shading did wonders for Mike Hanlon's character (although is it really okay if it's a black character meeting Wise Natives and stealing from them?) Bev Marsh's abusive husband was given a smaller part, instead of becoming a minor villain, and made more realistically frightening. Stephen King's minor turn as a shopkeeper delighted me. And I thought that they did a good job in outlining a new Ritual of Chüd, which they would have to, because, well, the ending of the novel is such a mess. (Talk about lampshading.)

The first scene broke my heart, even though I knew to expect it, yet by the end that power seemed to have dissipated. I became unable to tell the induced hallucinations from the real horrors. For example, did that kid really get murdered in the funhouse? If so, how come the police weren't looking for the actual human man who was seen staggering out of it? (This is another movie where police involvement in obvious horrors seems to be unusually low.)

And I had, oh, so many feelings about Richie and Eddie. As a viewer, I was moved and immediately onboard with the retconning of Richie as gay and with his crush on Eddie. But then, as I thought later: that means there were two expressions of queer affection in the movie (the kiss between two men and the bridge-carving) and both of them end in death (Adrian and Eddie). We're supposed to not do the "doomed gay love" thing anymore, and since Eddie died in the novel, it was inevitable. (Also, Eddie had a wife, even if she was a punchline, so -- what a mess.)

Finally, I felt like I needed another minute with Stan's suicide note. It didn't exist in the book, and I didn't exactly follow what it was saying because I was paying attention to the unrelated images on the screen. How had he thought it would help?

In short, the movie is a muddy mess, but to be honest, so is the novel. I'm glad I wasn't put off by the mixed reviews and went to see it anyway.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:48 PM on September 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

The filmmakers definitely seemed more interested in the kids' story than the adults. Understandably so, because It's power (and weakness) is oriented toward children; if you believe in monsters (or magic), they will become real. Watching an adult try to will themselves into that state of mind is really hard to make convincing.

The adults being present also magnified one of the problems with the first part (and the book): It is a superpowered killing machine, but It either wants the Losers alive or is unable to hurt them. So many scenes where one of the Losers is alone and overmatched, only to be allowed to slip away. Even in the overlong post-Ritual of Chüd section when they are separated and presumably under Its control (at least the illusions are fully immersive).

I did enjoy the lampshading about the ending, though. Although I was hoping to see the Turtle.

Countess Elena, the book makes it clear that It has an effect on every adult's mind in Derry that makes them complacent about what's happening to the children of the town. For example the police don't really investigate the children who go missing - I think there's a scene (maybe also in the first film) where the newer missing poster is just pasted over one that's a week or so old.
posted by five toed sloth at 6:49 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Saw this last night. What was apparently an epic lightning storm was happening outside the theater. During the bike-shopping scene, a power surge knocked out the audio, and then the projector a few seconds later.

When a later scene included a jarring and seemingly out-of-nowhere music drop, at first I thought lightning had struck and screwed up the audio a second time.

Nope. Someone chose that music insert.
posted by FallibleHuman at 7:42 AM on September 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

That music drop was my favorite moment of the film.
posted by maxsparber at 8:03 AM on September 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

I am still trying to figure out the use of Angel of the Morning in that scene and was going to come here to ask about it. Was it referencing some other film? Deadpool maybe? It was just...wrong.

More importantly though, I felt that any merits the film had were completely obliterated by the shockingly poor and problematic representations of both LGBTQ and race (and probably other identity aspects). And right from the very start. It's as if the movie is overtly telegraphing "THIS IS NOT FOR YOU GO AWAY". And it goes way, way beyond any arguments about the source material (which is never an excuse anyway). Here's just a few examples, but there are so, so many:
  • The opening scene with over the top gay stereotypes which we're meant to believe provoked the anger of the bullies, who then MURDERED the guy. This goes completely unchecked and even when mentioned later it's remarked that the guy was killed by the clown, not the gang who was witnessed harrassing them openly at the carnival. And none of it matters anyway, as these people and their fleeting lives were all just props for setting the scene so that I can really understand the rot that is Derry, wow.
  • Ritchie's secret being the most shameful thing ever, something so bad that it never gets mentioned and you only realise what it is (being a gay man) in a latent manifestation at the end of the film (being secretly in love with his best friend). Meanwhile, there are repeated flashbacks to bullying which use homophobic slurs to make the point but I guess that's ok because it's the 80s and ironically it turned out to be true??
  • Mike doesn't get a backstory or character development commensurate with the others. He's treated like so many of Stephen King's characters — magical black men who have some sort of wisdom or lore that allows them to narrate and then either sacrifice themselves or escape with a knowing smile of freedom at the end of the tale. Also, his parents were crackheads.
  • The scene at the restaurant was really cringy and offensive around the staff and service.
  • Don't even get me started on the fat-shaming.
There are ways to do things and ways not to do things. This film was how not to do things.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:22 AM on September 8, 2019 [11 favorites]

The ineffective-ness or inactivity of the cops of Derry is part of the town's whole miasma. The whole town is wrong, because of IT; crimes aren't solved here. So if a kid died in the funhouse, /shrug, go through the motions of an investigation, add it to the unsolved pile.

I don't particularly remember the book all that well, but I cannot stand the RPG quest in the middle of this movie. Having every character go off solo gives us a bunch more set pieces and scares but it's just heavy handed plotting.

I felt like the opening scene felt shockingly real and violent compared to the rest of the film.

I'm sure I'm being naive here but Richie's "huge debilitating secret" seems like it fits MUCH better in a book centered on a 50s/80s divide, rather than an 80s/now.

I just don't think you can afford to constantly make fun of bad endings without landing the ending, and it does not do that. It feels like a kid's solution to the problem.
posted by graventy at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

It was fine, but long. Skarsgård was great, as to be expected.

I think the novel is, more than The Shining, King's semi-autobiographical masterwork1 and I've concluded it can't be removed from the era(s) it takes place, and it's pretty much unfilmable.

1. this is a really fucking good read
posted by entropicamericana at 6:45 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Can someone explain to me why a kid in 1989 is happily riding a 1950s bicycle, and is somehow still able to ride this incredibly crusty, rusty, clearly not maintained in any way bike in 2016? I found things like this incredibly hard to swallow (and you know, the gay bashing, the let's take the wisdom of the nearby Native Americans, etc.)
posted by loriginedumonde at 6:59 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

but you were okay with the clown from outer space who lived in the improbably large sewer?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:03 PM on September 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

It's not like he could afford 20th and 21st century rent on clown wages.
posted by loriginedumonde at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2019 [14 favorites]

The representations of LGBTQ were indeed problematic. iamkimiam articulated it perfectly. It's problematic and offensive. I knew that scene was coming and I cringed my way through it. Stephen King is not the best at LGBTQ representation, none of his books really handle this in a good way.

I really wish we just had a short story about these kids dealing with a serial killer clown. That's all that really works, the rest of it is just padding and it bloats up the book/film.
posted by Fizz at 8:07 AM on September 9, 2019

Also, his parents were crackheads.

I've seen this criticism in a bunch of different places, and I think it's based on a misunderstanding (but I'm seeing it enough that it's probably the movie's failure to communicate clearly). Mike has a book of old newspaper articles that has an article about his parents with the headline "two crackheads die in fire" (or something similar). At the end of the movie, he mentions something about how he's been "seeing what It wants [him] to see," and there's a shot of the same article, but with the headline "two local residents die fire." My understanding is that Mike's parents were not crackheads, but that It was taunting Mike by changing the headline. Once It dies, he stops seeing the false headline.

Again, this is basically the third time I've heard someone say that Mike's parents were crackheads (including my wife on the way out of the theater) so I think it's on the movie for not being clear enough.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:23 AM on September 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

This movie was a real dud for me. Even worse than chapter 1.

I really don't like most modern horror movies. It's all jump scares and loud sounds. I want some existential dread from horror movies, not cheap scare tactics.
posted by Pendragon at 10:45 AM on September 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

They keep bringing up the crackhead thing because Slate published an article where they failed to notice. the. scene. at. the. end. Which is really the state of online news/opinion websites these days, I guess.

To be clear, Pennywise changed the title and at the end of the movie, we clearly see that it said "residents" or whatever word they used, but I think it was residents. Two local residents. It was really quick and easy to miss.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

since it's come up a few times, I'm curious -- I came away from the whole "let's appropriate Native Americans" thing as Mike having made the whole thing up + made the cup thing himself. Or is it that he stole the artifact and constructed some story around it to get the others to Believe(TM)?

Hard agree on the shitty LGBTQ rep. Having come from a small (less picturesque) town, I think it would have been more realistic to have Chapter Two's first onscreen victim be some local who overdosed, thought they were tripping when Pennywise showed up, and subsequently got chomped. "oh no, another overdose, except missing arm and bite marks? anyway, did you hear about the Derry boy scouts fundraiser?" could have been the headline Mike read to kick off the story.

re: the casting -- it legit freaked me out how close they casted in terms of looks, at least with Eddie and New Kid. But I think the only memorable performances we got from the adults were Bill Hader and James Ransome (adult!Eddie). Everybody else felt wooden, especially in comparison to the kid actors. I found Jessica Chastain in particular a really hard sell after Sophia Lillis, and the way they used her character was frankly a waste. Having Denborough as the leader / the approximate POV character was... stupid. You expect me to care about a dude writing shitty endings when a woman is trying to escape a lifetime of abusive relationships? FFS. I'd also take more time with Mike, especially if he's not stealing Native American artifacts.

Actually, I'm not done being mad about Bill Denborough. Why was he sent on a quest to find a token object, and immediately go find his old bike, and then the bike wasn't his freaking token?
posted by snerson at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Ritual of CHUD was real in the movie. What happened is that Mike left out the fact that when the original native people did it... they died. They were shown being massacred by tentacles that came out of the jar and just thwip thwip thwip killed them dead. Pennywise said "Why don't you tell them what really happened, Mikey?" and the losers were like "aw, c'mon" in their we're super dead now way.

I didn't super love the movie or anything, I just remember these things.

It sure was nice of Pennywise to give Bill the paper boat, right! Dumb. Would've rather seen him throw an entire bike into a tiny box.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:08 PM on September 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Having read the book twice and loved the first movie, I was hugely disappointed by this movie. So many plot threads were included from the book (Audra, Tom) and then just....dropped. The new material added didn't make much sense at all. Overall it felt like Hollywood producer meddling; they tried to recreate the success of chapter 1 but didn't realize what made it compelling and pursued the wrong elements. Throw in the points iamkimiam makes, and I doubt I'll be watching this one again. I'll just rewatch the miniseries instead.
posted by zenzicube at 3:55 PM on September 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I liked this movie better than the book, which is even more problematic, although less than the first movie. The book was finished late in the period of King's life in which he was addicted to just about everything, and includes That Notorious Scene which was thankfully excised in this adaptation, as well as a lot of superfluous things that, while maybe interesting in and of themselves, tend to get lost in the larger, sprawling narrative. We don't need to know how Ben lost his weight; the story that Mike is told about the African-American airmen's club that's burned down by racists, while maybe something that could have been turned into a story of its own, in the book functions merely as another data point that Bad Things Happen in Derry; and Tom kidnapping Audra is completely unnecessary--Bill doesn't need his wife used as bait to go after IT; he's going to go after IT because IT is evil and murdered his younger brother and a whole bunch of other people. (King will revisit the subject of abusive parents and spouses repeatedly, in books such as Rose Madder, Gerald's Game, and Dolores Claiborne, to much better effect.) The story doesn't especially need them, nor the apparent tie-in to the Dark Tower books.

That's not to say that there aren't things that the movie could have done better. I still don't know what the significance of the deadlights are; Beverly gets some sort of precognitive ability from it, but Richie just sort of gets held by it. (The deadlights in the book are just some sort of gazing-into-the-abyss, quasi-Lovecraftian-to-look-upon-it-is-to-go-mad thing.) Ben sort of fades into the background a lot. The fat jokes are bad. I wasn't sure if the kid in the fun house really died or not. And, as has been said by many commenters, adults getting threatened and attacked by a scary clown just doesn't have the impact that kids getting threatened and attacked by the scary clown does. (The scene in this movie where Pennywise promises to remove the port-wine stain from the face of the girl who chased the firefly under the bleachers just broke my heart.) Finally, the resolution here, with the defeat of IT by laughing at it, was cribbed shamelessly from the Star Trek TOS episode "Day of the Dove." Nevertheless, still better than the book IMO.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 AM on September 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not sure why the Losers didn't recruit gay icon The Babadook to take down homophobia-enabling Pennywise. Match for the ages.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 7:38 AM on September 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

but you were okay with the clown from outer space who lived in the improbably large sewer?

Where would '80s urban fantasy and/or horror have lived if it wasn't in absurdly spacious sewers?

Something else I forgot to mention is that the big reveal before IT was killed in the novel -- that IT was female and had eggs -- is missing. I guess they felt like they were full up of weird gender issues already.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure why the Losers didn't recruit gay icon The Babadook to take down homophobia-enabling Pennywise. Match for the ages.

Apparently Pennywise and The Babadook are dating.
posted by maxsparber at 8:24 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

> Watching an adult try to will themselves into that state of mind is really hard to make convincing.

Right? That was my number two gripe from this movie. I think they could have done themselves a service by sticking to the idea from the book that each of the Losers had a very specific thing of which they were afraid. Then it'd make more sense to see them terrified by this monster from their childhood that held special significance to them. This potpourri of IT faces didn't do anything for me.

Though I will say that while IT was going through ITs death throes we did get to see the face of that painting-creature that terrorized young Stan. That was nice, I guess.

> Although I was hoping to see the Turtle.

It was right there on the teacher's desk during Ben's foray into his old school.

> Finally, I felt like I needed another minute with Stan's suicide note. It didn't exist in the book, and I didn't exactly follow what it was saying because I was paying attention to the unrelated images on the screen. How had he thought it would help?

His logic was something like, "If there's any crack in the armor then your plan won't work, and I would absolutely be a point of failure if come along" with the implication being that six solid pieces are stronger than seven where one has a flaw? I don't know.

But that's my number one gripe right there: how they treated Stan. I know that these movies aren't the book, and it couldn't be done the same way. You can't open the movie-about-kids with the suicide of an adult you won't get to know until the next movie (and who probably hadn't even been cast yet). I get that. I just ... let me be vulgar and quote part of my review of the book on Goodreads:
Can I talk about Stan? I think about Stan a lot, even to this day. I think about Stan because he didn't make it, and that always made me sad. I think I had forgotten (oh man, more on that sensation later) that the book gives us his death so so early. The first time I read it I had no idea what I was getting into, so ... a guy died. So be it. The second time, well, I knew who Stan was and it was like, "Oh yeah he sure couldn't cope." This time I guess I was thinking more critically about the book. It's been 20 years, and I don't read the same as I used to. Not "read the same stuff" but "don't perform the act of reading" the same way. Previously it had never occurred to me just how effective Stan's death was in terms of setting up the idea that some people just aren't going to get out of this alive. And I held that thought as I got further into the opening chapters and occasionally there'd be this small (and poignant) reminder of Adult Stan's death in some scene where Kid Stan couldn't hack it. At first I liked those reminders. Around the middle of the book I started to think they were too frequent - I get it. I know. Stan just couldn't hang. But by the end I was welcoming them again, especially the one where they're cutting their hands and making the oath. It's Stan's idea, even! and yet you know he won't be back, and King makes it feel like even he knows it - and yet Stan knows the oath has to be made. Every subtle (or ... not subtle, what with this being King) instance of Kid Stan being the hesitant one was a good counterbalance to every time King said something along the lines of "and then one of the kids saw something that would have totally just melted an adult's rational mind but they are young and flexible and just a few hours later they're happily eating lunch with their friends" and you're just left thinking that poor Stan had too much adult mind in his little kid body.

I don't know.

I just think a lot about Stan is all.
that's how I feel about Stan, and the epilogue of this movie went and shit all over that. Adult Stan didn't have time to write any stupid letter to his friends. He tried to face something bigger than he could handle and chose what he felt was the fastest way out because the flood of memories of that horror really did break his adult mind. It was tragic, and the entire book has a Stan-shaped hole in it, and the movie went and retroactively filled this hole in with watery shit. They spent entirely too much time on Adult Stan's phone call scene. It should have been: phone call / not responding to his wife's inquiry about what's wrong / shot of her forcing the door open to see the blood.

I dunno, man. If the whole thing the movie beat into our heads about "sometimes the original ending was wrong" was to make space for this mistreatment of Stan's story? Then the movie is wrong, the original is better. His suicide being a product of him not being able to cope with past trauma felt realistic and human and it hurt. His suicide being a result of his what? choice to preemptively give up with the hopes that maybe his absence would help his old friends fight a clown? That's weak and you can throw it on the pile of mistakes this film made (including but not limited to the fat shaming and tragic gay deaths).
posted by komara at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2019 [8 favorites]

I loved this book as a kid reading it in the 80's (yeah I was a weird kid), and I still have a huge affection for it as an adult. I've only seen chapter 1 of the movies so far.

But there's no denying that King - whose writing I have always loved in all its schlocky glory - has serious issues around homosexuality, race, and well, women. Once you've noticed it, it's actually hard to find a novel King has written that's not Weird About Teh Gays. Or where there's not some magical black or native person guiding the white hero/es to their success/doom/whatever.

I imprinted too young to stop reading him now, but I really do wish he'd put in some self-work on these subjects.
posted by invincible summer at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2019

My main problem with this movie is the treatment of Mike, both as an adult and as a child. Book Mike had the only functional mom and dad out of the Losers. His dad encouraged his inquisitive brain and they obviously loved him. Also they didn't die in a damn fire. That's how Mike grew up to be the writer/historian/investigator, which are my favorite parts of the book, who pulls everyone back together. Even in the kid movie - they gave the historian bit to Ben - for no damn reason. He's never a "magical negro" who steals things from Indians,he's an actual contributing member.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 3:38 PM on September 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

Having finally just seen it, it... wasn't great. It was fun enough to watch -- some great, great creepy scenes, Bill Hader's just fantastic -- but yeah, some pretty big problems. The scene with Mike getting the ritual from the Native Americans was both offensive and dull (and why did none of the Native Americans have.. faces? Were they supposed to be wearing masks? Because it looked like they just didn't have actual faces) and in the end, they basically just, what, bully It to death? I felt sorry for It at the end, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to be the case!
posted by sarcasticah at 8:02 PM on October 5, 2019

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