Is This [Stephen King's] It [Chapter Two]? Is This All There Is?

"My sad crying clown in an iron lung!"

So, my capsule review of It Chapter 2 is: the parts that were supposed to be scary were funny, the parts that were supposed to be dramatic were boring, but at least the parts that were supposed to be funny were funny. 

It felt at times like there were two competing teams of filmmakers at war over the body of the film: one group trying to make an outright horror comedy and the other trying to amp up the scariness over the first installment with more Silent Hill squickiness.

Team Comedy had the reins for less of the run time, but were more successful than Team Horror when they did.

You know, when they started talking about missing memories and showing childhood vignettes that hadn't made the first film, I had a moment where I thought some of the orphaned references -- the things that left me feeling like the characters were quoting or referencing a version of IT that existed in their universe -- were finally going to be given context. 

But nope, we just got more orphaned references. Bill's still got Silver and he can still race to beat the devil, but it doesn't mean anything. Not Silver, not the cryptic reference. Sent to find a token from his past with mystic power, Bill finds his childhood bike, which was a bonafide magic artifact in the original source material, but the closest it comes to paying off is a comic smash cut to the bike falling apart underneath him... which is then completely ignored in subsequent scenes, because the other team took control back.

I guess if Pennywise saying "Beep beep, Richie" in Chapter 1 felt like he was quoting the original, then Bill saying Silver could beat the devil felt like a parody. Some of the better(!) scenes with Eddie and Richie felt like they were parodying Chapter 1.

And then the climax... okay, my take of the first movie's grand finale was that it felt like seven pre-teens beating a tragic monster clown half to death in a sewer. The sequel's take of having them come back to stand in a semi-circle around it and call it names didn't really improve that.

It still sort of works for a Kingian "bumhug"-style banality of evil thing, where Its absurd mantiscorpiderclown form is physically deadly but when they turn and confront It, It melts and wastes away? But the way the power of belief is played with, discarded, picked up again, paid of, and then subverted and then the key mechanic that guides the children's every encounter with It in the original source (and is referenced multiple times throughout this chapter) finally pays off in the most "If Jason is afraid of water and Freddy is afraid of fire..." post-Scream self-aware movie teen fashion imaginable.

I liked this movie a good deal less than I liked part one, which... I wasn't wild about. It felt cheap and made-for-TV, and I'm not talking about the quality of the special effects (though quite a lot of the creature designs were silly), and yet ironically it mainly makes me want to re-watch the ABC miniseries again to see how it holds up now.

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