“It Chapter Two” will make the audience feel like clowns

By Erin Brady | gargoyle@flagler.edu

I have recently noticed a funny coincidence — in the two years the “It” film series has been released to the masses, Florida has been affected by two major hurricanes the week of each movie’s release.

My review of “It Chapter Two” was nearly in jeopardy because of the unpredictable nature of Hurricane Dorian. Nevertheless, the storm shifted away from Florida, leaving movie theaters across the state relatively untouched for the horror blockbuster of the year.

How exactly does the temporary panic pay off? That depends on the type of movies you enjoy. Do you like watching art play out on screen with a strung together plot in the background? Or do you enjoy a complex and structured plot with little stylistic features? If you prefer the former, perhaps you will fall in love with director Andy Muschietti’s sequel, “It Chapter Two.”

There is nothing particularly wrong with prioritizing a film’s overall look and feel over the plot. Directors such as Sofia Coppola and Baz Luhrmann have made successful careers based on emphasizing style within their stories.

With this in mind, a movie truly works when the overall style of the work is on par with the weight and development of the story. “It Chapter Two” has forgotten about how balance is part of the reason why its predecessor was so well-loved. The second installment has shifted its focus away from character development and an intriguing plot to haphazardly mimic the visuals praised by critics and viewers in 2017.

The sequel has a different cinematographer than the first film — which is unfortunately apparent. The Lovecraftian feeling of the first film has been replaced with the feeling that Warner Brothers drew a name out of a hat and gave the person they chose the title of cinematographer. The CGI is also significantly less impressive than the first movie, with the exception of some practical effects.

Perhaps the most glaring issue is how excruciatingly safe the entire story is. Even in a movie which features a homophobic hate crime and children being brutally devoured, nothing about the movie seems to push boundaries. The horror genre is partly based on having people see atrocities they wouldn’t see in any other movie. “It Chapter Two” plays off even the most horrifying moments as just a regular Friday night among the embattled “Losers Club.”

Yes, our beloved “Losers” are seen struggling with the source of their childhood nightmares returning. The conflict is seen as so traumatizing that the core cast considers leaving at various points in the movie. However, you simply cannot believe what the characters are supposed to be feeling while watching them in action. Their fights and attacks are carefully coordinated, and any sense of realism portrayed immediately falters. Then again, the majority of the cast seemingly did not know about how subtlety is an important part of acting.

Many of the actors, particularly James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, simply act. Few emotions other than fear and sadness are displayed. There is no indication showing the film as anything more than a Hollywood production. The key to an amazing performance is to act like you are not acting. Actors are supposed to play their characters as actually living out the events they are portraying. Only two actors, Bill Hader and James Ransone, do more than simply read off the script.

Hader and Ransone play the adult versions of fan favorites Richie Tozier and Eddie Kaspbrak, made famous in the previous film by Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer. If you were intrigued by their chemistry in the first movie, you will fall in love with them in the sequel.

The subplot between the two men is far and beyond the highlight of this nearly three hour film, yet their dynamic is given the least amount of development. This is a shame, since both actors, especially Ransone, [whose previous credits range everywhere from “The Wire” to “Oldboy”] play their parts as if they were the key players in a tragic romance akin to “Romeo and Juliet.” A comparison such as this is not exactly an overreaction either.

The worst part, however, is the rest of the ensemble [even the usually-incredible Bill Skarsgard] giving them little else to work with. The ensemble’s overall delivery unfortunately weighs down these amazing performances.

Hurricane Dorian’s unpredictable pathway made me question whether or not I would be able to see “It Chapter Two” on opening weekend. Once the news confirmed the storm would not heavily impact Florida, I was able to get my movie viewing schedule back on track. However, as I left the theater, I could not help but think about whether or not having my viewing delayed would have been better.

Pennywise might be known as the dancing clown, but the film’s overall blandness made me feel like a clown for expecting the horror blockbuster of the year to be a good movie.

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