I was nervous for this film for two reasons. The first being that the expectations that the audience was going to have for this film were going to be high, due to how well the first film performed. The second reason was because I am well aware of the ending of the novel and how hard that can be to portray on screen with no sense of silliness or cheesiness.
I am proud to report that they did, in fact, execute the ending well, and made a film that is on par with the first.
The story line they chose was excellent. There were a number of plot points and characters omitted from the film that were in the original book, ones that the original mini-series even included. But, all omitted characters and plot points would have felt like filler had they been left in, which the film did not need as it already has a run time of 2 hours and 49 minutes. They eliminated things like Bill and Beverley’s significant others arriving in Derry and It having laid eggs that needed to be destroyed. Even the changing of some of the characters careers as adults was smart. Every change made, whether it was to add something that wasn’t in the original material or to cut something that was, was done thoughtfully. And that makes all the difference when adapting a book as large as this one.
An aspect that was not changed was It’s true form. Although we know that It takes the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown most of the time, It’s true form is that of a spider. Now, this is where I say that I was worried. In the book, it doesn’t seem silly because the reader relies on their imagination. But, I remember watching the mini-series and thinking how dumb the ending was, how much of a disappointment it was to see portrayed on screen. They got it right this time, though. It was decided by the production team to portray It as an amalgamation of both Pennywise and a spider, ultimately creating a very unsettling visual that was only enhanced by the acting of Bill Skarsgard.
That brings me to the rest of the cast. This film was one of the best casted films I have seen in a while. Every actor was believable as the grown up version of the characters we saw in the film before. Not only were they believable in the way that they looked, but everybody from James McAvoy to Andy Bean perfectly nailed the mannerisms, both physical and vocal, of the child actor before them. When James McAvoy, who plays adult Bill Denbrough, began to stutter, my jaw dropped. He became the spitting image of Jaeden Martell, who plays young Bill Denbrough. Jessica Chastain’s movements perfectly mimicked Sophia Lillis’s and James Ransone perfectly mimicked Jack Dylan Grazer’s cadence and comedic timing. (Side note: Jack Dylan Grazer’s career is one that I’m excited to see grow. His comedic timing and delivery is literally perfect.)
The actor that I want to praise the most, though, is Bill Hader. We all knew that Hader was a funny guy from his time on Saturday Night Live, but we found out how tremendous of an actor he was when he began the show Barry on HBO. So, when it was announced that Bill Hader would be playing the adult version of Finn Wolfhard’s character, Richie Tozier, I was thrilled. Hader not only nailed the mannerisms and vocal ticks that Wolfhard had already established, he also brought a depth that the character of Richie needed. I did not expect to be emotional in this film. I was not attached enough to any of the characters. However, when Eddie dies, the emotion that Hader showed as Richie was something else entirely. Perhaps that is because the film brings to the forefront something that was merely subtext in the novel: the relationship between Eddie and Richie being something more than friendship. It’s hinted as Richie’s “secret” throughout the film that his emotions for his friend are stronger than he lets on. It’s what Pennywise uses to terrorize him upon his return to Derry. The emotion that Hader exudes in the death scene and the scene that follows is absolutely the emotion of somebody who has lost a deeply loved one. And it is heart wrenching.
Too many times these days, horror films end with some kind of cliffhanger, whether big or small. That way should the film make money, the studio can create a franchise and keep milking that cash cow. I am happy to report that It: Chapter 2 does not end that way. It has definite closure. And, honestly, it was completely refreshing. It made me happy to know that these characters’ lives would go on, and they can put Derry, Maine behind them. Pennywise would not be returning. The children of Derry could finally rest.