Chaos and red balloons again descend on Derry, Maine, in the closing chapter on the film adaption of Stephen King's It. Set 27 years after the conclusion of part one, Andy Muschietti's It Chapter Two—with a 67% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes—returns to the now-grown Losers' Club, whose members (played by James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, and James Ransome) must look within themselves if they wish to defeat the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) for good. Four takes:
- Refer Guzman was turned off by an "unnecessarily ugly opening scene" and his experience didn't improve much from there. While Hader and Ransome provide "moments of much-needed humor and unexpected poignancy," there's "very little" about the film that actually works, Guzman writes at Newsday. By the time the ending arrives complete with "voice-over cliches … even die-hard fans of King's saga will have had enough."
- Brian Truitt had a better time, thanks to what he sees as strong performances. "Skarsgard finds new ways to totally freak you out," Mustafa has an "impressive breakout with plenty of gravitas," and Hader is "a crucial scene stealer," he writes at USA Today, giving the film three stars out of four. Still, it's "not as tight or affecting as the original."
- Peter Travers argues the film isn't as scary or as grabby as its predecessor, and the nearly three-hour running time "diminishes the film's ability to hold us in its grip." Luckily, "the whole cast come up aces," as It Chapter Two "challenges us to see the worst in ourselves," Travers writes at Rolling Stone. "Now that is truly terrifying."
- There's "real insight into how much childhood sets a course for the rest of a person's life, and the way humans create defense mechanisms to wall off parts of their past that are too painful to confront." But there's also "monsters that look like tacky computer simulations" and "a needlessly complicated mythology that slows the film's wind-up considerably," writes Scott Tobias at NPR. Eventually, it "starts to list from all the baggage."
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