The home release of “It Chapter Two” includes a full curtain pullback worth checking out.

“You’ll Float, too.” Three innocuous words infused with horrible terror thanks to Stephen King’s 1986 novel It. Then, in 1990, a television mini-series adapted from the book shifted the way the average person looks at clowns, thanks in large part to Tim Curry’s performance as the ancient multi-dimensional creature known as It or, more commonly, as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Though mileage varies from story to story, reader to reader, there’s no denying that King’s It, and its adaption, captured our nightmares, leaving us often feeling like, no matter our age, we can never let go of the existential dread Pennywise instills. Where the mini-series sought to convey the story across 3+ hours, director Andy Muschietti wisely broke apart the chronologically shifting novel into two chapters: the first featuring the central characters as children and the second as adults. Now available on home video, Muschietti’s It Chapter Two finishes the gripping story he begin in 2017 with an almost new cast which beautifully matches the excellent performances of the first.

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L-R: Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh, James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough, James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon, and Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom in IT: CHAPTER TWO.

 

In brief, here’s what you need to know:

It’s been 27 years since a small band of kids fought off an evil being that was killing children around their town of Derry, Maine. In that time, most of them have left the town and moved on, forgetting the horrors of their youth. Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) stayed behind to keep watch for any signs of the return of whatever It (Bill Skarsgård) is so that he could call his friends home for a final stand. Strangely, none of his friends remember their fight against It until Mike calls, sending each one into their own personal hell as the memories flood back. It, however, has never forgotten them. Instead, It’s waited for them, longed for them to come home. With the disadvantage of memory, can the former Losers Club band together to save their town for good? Or will It finally win the day?

Since this is a home release review, specific content from the theatrical is fair game. To remain spoiler-free, please skip to the bottom for the details on the bonus features. If you’d like to know what this reviewer thought of It Chapter One and It Chapter Two without fear of spoilers, you can read them here.

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L-R: Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris, Jaeden Martell as Bill Denbrough, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, and Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon in IT: CHAPTER TWO.

While King’s known for having the occasional twisty endings, It is very much a tale where good defeats evil. The victory comes at an incredible cost that certainly upends the Losers’ lives, but good still wins. Even if the ending is dramatically changed from the novel, Gary Dauberman’s script adaptation follows the trajectory he crafted with Chase Palmer and original It Chapter One director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective). This translates to a film that taps into the more supernatural aspects of the original novel without going too far into the details that would bog down a film that’s already stretching the bounds of reality. Yes, believe it or not, but there is only so far an audience is willing to go before things sound too crazy, which is why It Chapter Two doesn’t explain It’s deadlights, doesn’t introduce the turtle Maturin, and changes the ritual used by the Losers greatly from the source material. Some might take issue, but both Muschietti and Dauberman clearly understand the limitations present in trying to translate the novel into a film. This is why there are two films totaling over 5 hours in length and why some aspects of the novel are highlighted over others. Film is a visual medium and comes with its own constraints, making a strict adaptation more difficult than the average audience member can know.

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Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in IT: CHAPTER TWO.

What Muschietti and Dauberman very clearly succeed in doing is tell a universal tale of growing up and healing. The original Losers — Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher Martell), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and Beverly (Sophia Lillis) — were considered outcasts by many in their hometown before they found themselves banding together against It. The Losers had much in their childhoods (the grief of loss, sexual identity, systemic racism, sexual abuse), that forgetting it all must’ve been a blessing, except the past always has a way of coming back up when we least expect it. Which is the whole point of Chapter Two. The adult versions, played wonderfully by James McAvoy, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, and Jessica Chastain, had to come home to face their past or be buried by it. This is, of course, where the shine comes off the two-part It films because where Chapter One is an anxiety-inducing terrorfest, Chapter Two lacks anything resembling the former. Whether this is purposeful as a means of indicating the perspective shift between adulthood versus childhood, what unsettles in Chapter One seems like a minor inconvenience in Chapter Two. Even the cinematography and visual effects shift in Chapter Two to a point where what the actors engage with on-screen is so obviously fake that it borders on the absurd. The scene where all the adult Losers get together for a meal at a Chinese restaurant is a perfect example of this strange dichotomy. For the audience and characters, this scene is the first time the adults have been in one room together and the way the actors engage with each other, the audience immediately believes this is a group of old friends (perhaps even the same people as the original cast aged-up, they are just that convincing) as they converse, razz, and otherwise reconnect. It’s a hilarious and heart-warming scene which attempts to switch to dread as It sends a series of creatures out of their food and after them. I write “attempts” because the CGI isn’t as well blended which prevents the scene from holding the required tension as well as it desires. Instead, it looks silly and gauche against the other incredible practical affects Muschietti uses in both films.

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L-R: Bill Hader as Richie Tozier and James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak in IT: CHAPTER TWO.

This isn’t to suggest, by any stretch, that It Chapter Two isn’t a good-looking film or isn’t discomfort-inducing. Two scenes using practical effects in Chapter Two exemplify the mood: It feasting on a little girl and adult Beverly’s near-drowning by blood. In the first, It as Pennywise lures in a young girl with the promise of making a skin blemish disappear. With Pennywise’s face awash in a lovely warm glow emanating from below him as he’s surrounded in black (an even more stunning contrast in the 4K release), the creature is both beautiful in composition and terrifying because we know what’s about to happen. As Pennywise counts down to when he’ll magically fix her blemish, he freezes in an excruciatingly long pause, his left eye rolling to the side, drool dripping from his mouth, until he finally snatches the girl in his mouth. We know what’s going to happen and all we can do is wait. It’s a scene so terrible that even writing about it is causing internal distress. Later, as the Adults take on It within It’s home, It forces them to separate and each are given their own form of personal torture. For Beverly, there’s a sequence which slightly mirrors one from Chapter One, except instead of being covered by blood rushing out from a sink, she’s going to be drowned in it while locked in the same bathroom stall in which she once hid in during high school. This sequence is disquieting not just because Jessica Chastain goes all out to convey the life-or-death stakes adult Beverly is enduring, but because of the metaphorical elements at play in the scene. Bleeding is a sign of maturity for a woman, a biological signal of change from childhood innocence to adulthood. For Beverly, her childhood is marred by the abuse she suffered at the literal hands of her father. Within those circumstances, bleeding could only mean something different for her. Coupled with the bathroom stall, the place where the audience first meets Beverly as she’s verbally assaulted for being a slut (the cinematic audience never is dialed in as to why), Beverly drowning by blood is an undeniable horror.

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Director Andy Muschietti on the set of IT CHAPTER TWO with the original Losers.

It would be very easy to get into all of the metaphors both visible and interpretive, but if you’ve come to this article, chances are you’d much rather know what’s in store for you when you pick up a copy of It Chapter Two. The answer is a small number of goodies possessing a great deal of behind the scenes content. Directed and edited by Constantine Nasr, the two-part “The Summer of It” covers the experience of the child and adult actors in their own respective sections. To call either of them featurettes would be a disservice as they’re more like short films as they clock in at 70+ minutes in total. In truth, put together, “The Summer of It” is more short film documentary than a featurette. While there is content that reappears in some of the other bonus materials, home viewers are treated to a near-full pull back of the curtain to see how Muschietti and his producing partner and sister Barbara selected the cast, set up the first meeting of the child Losers and Pennywise, how both casts bonded together, and what various scenes meant to them. Whatever audiences think of Muschietti’s collective film, there’s no denying that the cast and crew put their everything into it. Even the aforementioned drowning sequence with Beverly is given its own section where Chastain explains how they achieved the sequence while we get to observe behind the scenes footage.  As a companion piece to It Chapter One’s feature on Skarsgård’s approach to bringing Pennywise to life, “Pennywise Lives Again!” focuses not just on his experience filming Chapter Two, but what it was like reinhabiting the character after an extended break. We’re even treated to the first thing Skarsgård worked on before getting into make-up (a visual affects scene in which Pennywise confronts adult Ritchie) and seeing the joyful Skarsgård from the on-camera interviews transform himself physically and vocally into Pennywise is both transfixing and unsettling. Be advised that the iTunes edition contains a digital exclusive 9+ minute featurette focused on adult Mike and his home in the attic of the Derry Library. In truth, if you enjoyed one or both chapters, the bonus features do a fantastic job of both providing insight into the making of the movies and inciting a desire to rewatch them both.

IT Chapter Two Home Release Bonus Features

  • IT Chapter Two 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
  • Pennywise Lives Again!
  • This Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun
  • Finding the Deadlights
  • The Summers of IT: Chapter One, You’ll Float Too
  • The Summers of IT: Chapter Two, IT Ends
  • Commentary with Director Andy Muschietti

 

IT Chapter Two DVD contains the following special features:

  • Pennywise Lives Again!
  • This Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun
  • Finding the Deadlights
  • The Summers of IT: Chapter One, You’ll Float Too
  • The Summers of IT: Chapter Two, IT Ends

 

IT Chapter Two iTunes Digital Exclusive

  • Inside the Attic: Touring the Clock Tower

Available on digital beginning November 19th, 2019.

Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD beginning December 10th, 2019.



Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews, streaming

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