FTV:2:IT:The (Dud) Second Chapter (2019)6/10.
The lone person to return from the writers club of part one, the loss of Chase Palmer and Cary Joji Fukunaga is one greatly felt in Gary Dauberman's adaptation of the second half of the novel, where once each member of the Losers Club was given a progression in their character arc of defeating their fears and a growth in maturity, is here replaced by Dauberman with keeping them all largely in one place, (with only Richie being given the sliver of change.)This is most notable in the poor writing treatment of Beverly,whose suffering of parental/spouse abuse is revealed to leave her with deep scars, none of which leads to a cathartic release that the films had appeared to be building towards.
Staying true to the opening of the adult time-line in the novel with a horrific homophobic attack from thugs, Dauberman begins a recurrent theme of presenting what should be major events in the Losers Clubs lives,only to leave them hanging,from the opening attack, to Bill trying to save a child who gets killed by Pennywise, leading to Bill crying for five minutes, only to completely move on and no hint of the psychological effect it has had on him being offered. Bringing a new Comedy element into the tale, for the first hour Dauberman actually makes it work, via the sarcastic jokes they share actually establishing the bonds the adult Losers Club share, which builds to a Chinese meal reunion set-piece (the highlight of the film) that balances laughs with Pennywise shocks.
Digging “going underground” (both physical & mentally) as being the main theme of the title, Dauberman shovels up the suppressed memories of the Losers Club,and buries the film. Going into long individual flashbacks,Dauberman takes them to a repetitive dead-end,due to Pennywise clearly not being a threat in the sequences due to it being flashbacks,and all of them going round in circles which instead of adding depth to the characters, lands on miss-placed gags. Running a gag across the film that people hate the ending,Dauberman ends the adult time line in the Losers Club epic fight on a hollow note, because of a failure by Dauberman to build arcs underground, but incredibly,at the last minute finds the spirit of the first IT,and delivers a touchingly poetic quality to the fading childhood days of the Losers Club.
Craning down to the Losers Club on their bikes, returning director Andy Muschietti displays in his close working with cinematographer Checco Varese, (replacing Chan-wook Park’s regular cinematographer, the far superior Chung-hoon Chung,who did IT 1) a striking skilfulness in capturing a fading memory of childhood summer days atmosphere, spinning on long crane/panning shots of the Loser Club kids cycling down the sun-lit streets of Derry. Continuing a motif first drawn in Mama, (2013-also reviewed) Muschietti links the chapters with excellent, highly-stylised transition shots/ overlapping images,turning the pages to the unresolved childhood traumas overlapping in the adult lives of the Losers Club,and in the two stand-out jump-scares, (in a house of mirrors and at a sports game) Muschietti offers a glimpse of using shadows in making Pennywise an imposing figure.
Making a drastic change from the first, Muschietti places most of the jump-scares to take place in daylight,which without the aide of the gloomy lighting from part 1, in the cold light of day look shockingly poor, amateur hour,flat CGI creations. Going underground for the final, Muschietti and Varesecharge at the End of Level Boss the films have been building towards, and ruins it all by covering the entire 40 minute set-piece in strobe lighting which jabs the viewer in the eyes,and makes it almost un-watchable. When not masked in a overload of naff CGI, Bill Skarsgård makes a chilling return as the animalistic Pennywise, whilst Bill Hader gives the stand out performance in the Losers Club as Richie,thanks to Hader using his comedic skill of giving out dead-pan one-liners,to actually build a character arc for Richie,with Hader capturing Richie’s gradual fear that they are all about to write their final chapter in life.