It: Chapter 2 came out past weekend to a 200-million-dollar success and relatively positive reviews. Consensus is that it doesn’t live up to the surprise success if 2017’s It, but the nearly three-hour journey of rediscovery has enough positive aspects to make up for some much deeper wells of “meh” moments.
In my review of It: Chapter 2, I gave my reaction and finalized on a straight “C” grade. There are some things I would have changed, added, or removed. Here are my top five most-wished for alternations for It: Chapter 2.
By the way…this is going to be filled with spoilers, so if you haven’t seen It: Chapter 2 yet, come back after seeing what Pennywise has in store.
TOM ROGAN AND HIS RELATIONSHIP AND PURSUIT OF HIS WIFE BEVERLY MARSH
Throw into this stuttering Bill’s wife, Audra. Both she and Tom play much more prominent parts in the book and their point of views in the literary tale add drama and personality to the story.
Touching quick on Audra; she chases Bill to the United States from England and the set of their movie. Her admiration for Bill and willingness to love him without knowing everything about him is really compelling. She chases after him out of fear, loyalty and concern.
Let’s just say Tom’s pursuit of Beverly has far different motivations.
The terror the devilishness tendencies of Tom is horrendous in the book. The way Stephen King describes his love for the belt is sexual. The flashbacks of how Beverly came to realize the relationship she was in are haunting. The pursuit Tom embarks on to chase down Beverly takes a turn when fate puts Audra’s arrival right in his lap.
There is so much to Tom in the book that connects back to the fact that Pennywise the Clown is not the only evil in the world. Human created terrors can be just as terrifying, and simply trying to convince yourself they aren’t real doesn’t remove the scars.
Also, Beverly in the book hides her trauma with Tom. She hides her wish to leave him. That is until a climaxing moment with a Loser Club admirer. The sense of shame is palpable, and the shedding of Beverly addressing her adult problems coincides with her rediscovering her memories from childhood.
HENRY BOWERS…DON’T WASTE HIM
Juniper Hills Asylum is a staple in Stephen King stories, and that’s where Henry Bowers is at the start of It: Chapter 2. In the book it’s the moon that is talking to the disturbed fellow, but a red balloon makes more sense in the movie.
What’s wasted is his escape sequence. In the book, there is a rather graphic description of It taking the form of an overgrown Doberman and essentially ripping through everyone in Henry’s way. It’s a new form of It, and would have loved to see the evil entity interact with Henry himself to create some bloodshed.
What’s more disappointing in It: Chapter 2 is Bowers’ reconnection with the Losers’ Club. In the book, that slow teasing of the confrontation is paid off to a tee with he and Eddie Kaspbrak battling in the hotel. Bowers breaks the arm of Eddie, the same one that he broke when they were kids (in the book version…in a truly horrific scene of Bowers taking the game “uncle” too far). Again it’s a connection back to childhood.
In another deviation from the book, this interaction with Eddie comes after Bowers meets with Michael Hanlon. Bowers literally almost kills Mike, taking the Losers’ Club scribe and historical compass away for the majority of the final moments.
In It: Chapter 2, it just seems like Bowers in thrown in, but his presence is too easily forgotten.
EXPAND ON THE DEATH OF STANLEY URIS WHEN RECEIVING MIKE HANLON’S PHONE CALL
Man, I am glutton for more punishment.
This chapter in King’s book is one of the best chapters of literature I have ever read (or listened to because I am an audiobook guy). It is unbelievably dramatic. From the point-of-view of his wife opening the door (which he never closes), you are literally holding your breath as the beats of the door knob turning squeals off the page.
Also, in the book, Stan is not nearly as drawn out with his suicide. By that I mean, he doesn’t write out a note. It’s a sudden rush. The memories flood back, the terrors are reforming in his head, and it’s just too much.
This expansion goes into how the Losers’ Club has to remember slowly to not want the same fate. The memory aspect is underplayed in the movie, so I get why director Andy Muschietti and writer Gary Dauberman steered clear of that. I just don’t like how It: Chapter 2’s rendition made it a bit of a more uplifting ending.
Overall, simply making this scene more profound would set the table for how the childhood experience of the Losers’ Club still brings the crew to the brink, and possibly over the edge.
LESS CGI…LET BILL SKARSGÅRD SHINE
I mentioned this in my initial review, so I’ll just recap it here.
“Skarsgård on the other hand, he doesn’t get the same chance to shine. The creepiest part of It were the moments when Pennywise was interacting with the kids from a distance. When the clowns were rising after the leper chased Eddie; when he was waving a severed hand at Hanlon while being beaten by Bowers; when sulking in the flooded corner while Georgie torments the psyche of Bill.
In It: Chapter 2, there are less of these moments, and those fleeting moments are ended with opened-jaws and blood rather than a creepy smile. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes, let the actors act rather than the CGI teeth flare.”
MORE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE LOSERS
Let the actors and actresses see each other! Through so much of It: Chapter 2, the Losers’ Club members are isolated. The movie itself begins with everyone getting Hanlon’s phone call. That is fine, need the call to arms. Then comes the get together at the Chinese restaurant which is arguably the best overall scene in the movie. Bill Hader is unbelievable in this scene and frankly everyone around the table rises to meet him. The dialogue is quick, the cuts come fast, and it shows how friendship and inside jokes can transgress time and growing up.
But, just like that, the gang goes iso again. They all go and find their respective tokens for the Ritual of Chüd, resulting in little vignettes where one knows that Pennywise is going to come-a-scaring. Some of the solo journeys are good, and some are just blah.
Instead of focusing so much on the individual journey’s, I would like to propose a new trajectory.
In the book, the kids run into It in the form of a werewolf in the bathroom of the house on Neibolt Street. Transpose this sort of experience to the adults.
Perhaps, in an effort to not involve that haunted house too much, have the adult Losers’ Club encounter the book “Creature from the Black Lagoon” persona. I think you could make this scene happen while the adults are revisiting the clubhouse. It is in the barons and therefore it’s by the sewers. Or, have the crew meet the Giant Crow. That dino-esq creature haunts Mike in the book after his father told him about The Black Spot. It’s even more present in the book than the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I think everyone who has seen It: Chapter 2 wishes the Losers’ Club was together more often. It was when the acting, script and chemistry was best. The structure of the movie didn’t allow for it, and that may be why it doesn’t rise to its highest level.
There are a few other gripes but they are on a smaller scale
- Probably very smart not to include the literal child group sex scene that takes place in the book. (Yes it does exist)
- The scene regarding young Henry Bowers accepting handjob for Hocksetter but rejecting a blowjob. Would have incredibly difficult to pull off appropriately, but would have been a profound way lay foundation under his own, and the town of Derry’s homophobia
- Henry Bowers secret fridge…with various dead things. It’s involved in Beverly Marsh’s memory flashback sequence in conjunction with the handjob exchange. Would have been a cool call back to have Bowers revisit it when escaping the looney bin as a callback; much like how the clubhouse was brought back for It: Chapter 2.