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Movie Review: 'It Chapter Two'

Brooke Palmer - (c) 2019 Warner Bros.

The movie adaptation of the first half of Stephen King’s It made $700 million, so there’s a reasonable chance you saw it. And if you did, there’s also a chance you assume you should see It Chapter Two so you can see how the story wraps up.

You don’t need to do that.

Not because it’s bad, but because there’s no story to wrap up. I mean it — there’s just no story. There’s a setup: It’s been 27 years since the kids thought they killed Pennywise the evil clown-demon-thing, but they were wrong and he’s back, and so the now-40-somethings reconvene in the town of Derry, Maine, to put an end to Pennywise once and for all.

And then three hours of movie happens, they have a big fight at the end that isn’t actually all that much different from the big fight they had at the end of the first movie, and that’s that.

You’ll notice I skipped over basically the entire middle. It’s because there’s nothing happening there. The friends split up for… reasons… and they each have terrifying visions of things that scared them when they were kids, and we spend a good hour just going through each of them one at a time.

And that’s it! That’s really it. It. Chapter Two. The first movie suffered because of its nostalgia fetish — in that case, nostalgia for the 1980s. This movie has a similar problem, but a stranger one: This one’s nostalgic for the first movie. Much of that middle section is there to show us the kids again, as if that’s what we’d really rather be seeing. And if this movie would rather be that movie, why should we even watch this one? And this sequel also struggles with the drastic tonal shifts that plagued the first movie, but here they make even less sense.

I wish I were exaggerating. There’s just barely anything here. I will say there are a number of genuinely frightening images and sequences in It Chapter Two, and they are effective. And if that’s enough for you to sit through three hours, by all means, go for it. Just don’t expect to have anything to actually care about.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.