It: Chapter Two First Reviews: Perfectly Cast and Darker Than Chapter One, but Super Long and Less Scary

Critics say the epic sequel doesn't quite measure up to the first, but offers a satisfying conclusion with enough spectacle to keep horror fans happy.

by | September 3, 2019 | Comments

Will IT: Chapter Two Find the Same Success as Chapter One?

IT Movie: Chapter 2 currently has a lower Tomatometer score than the first. Here’s why the film is getting a mixed reaction:

Posted by The Rotten Tomatoes Channel on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Horror sequels are often disappointing, but It: Chapter Two is a bit of an easy win. It isn’t a cash grab (at least, not in the most cynical sense); the writer and the director are the same, and it’s a continued Stephen King adaptation that follows up one of the most successful horror movies of all time — financially and critically. Still, that means this sequel, set 27 years after the original’s events, has a lot to live up to. But overall, the second installment is recommended in more early reviews than not. Thanks to great casting, a lot of heart, and more big scares, the movie floats above most other horror sequels.

Here’s what critics are saying about It: Chapter Two:

Does it live up to expectations?

There’s enough here that works for horror fans to make it an entertaining and worthwhile sequel experience as we get some big scares and laughs in an even bigger studio horror film.
– Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

If you’re a fan of the first movie, you’ll love this sequel.
– Dorian Parks, Geeks of Color

I left the theater feeling happy that the film served as a proper conclusion to its highly successful previous installment.
– Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings

It seems as if none of the filmmakers… knew that the razzle-dazzle of the first installment was in the story and performances and not the spectacle and effects.
– Clayton Davis,

How does it compare to the first chapter?

The film is much darker… kind of shocking, compared to the first film. (It’s so different I had to double-check after that the same team made this film.)
– Mike Ryan, Uproxx

It Chapter Two has a more fragmented structure and jerkier rhythm than the preceding film.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

In retrospect, it’s easy to see that the 2017 film was just a glorified trailer for this movie.
Peter Debruge, Variety


(Photo by Brooke Palmer/© 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.)

What about the cast?

Kudos to casting director Rich Delia; this ensemble is the real star of the film.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Casting director Rich Delia deserves a standing ovation.
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

The casting of the adult Losers had to be absolutely on point in order to sell the audience on the believability of the characters. Needless to say, they absolutely nailed it.
Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings

Their chemistry is electric, their humor is pitch-perfect, and their ensemble scenes are far and away the strongest part of the movie. It’s hard not to love the Losers’ Club, even all these years later.
Meg Downey, GameSpot

The cast worked so well with one another, you’d think they were actually childhood friends growing up.
Dorian Parks, Geeks of Color

While the adult Losers are all effective in their own ways, they never quite resonate like their teen counterparts.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

We hear Bill Hader runs away with the movie…

Hader is the heart and soul of the horror epic.
Clayton Davis,

Few actors are so skilled at melding a comedian’s pain with their bluster, but Hader makes it look easy…Hader shines brightest in an ensemble without a weak link.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Hader’s exceptionally comedic, layered, and nuanced performance will move you to tears with laughter and heartbreak.
Griffin Schiller, The Playlist

How does it handle the flashbacks?

The picture’s pacing loses some steam whenever the filmmakers flash back to the Losers’ childhood memories.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

The flashbacks themselves too often re-tread what we already know from the first film and pull the sense of action out of the present.
Haleigh Foutch, Collider

Newly filmed (and de-aged) scenes with the young actors take up much more time than they should. They act as a shorthand for character development I wish the adult actors got to play.
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

These flashbacks just serve to remind us of the delightful chemistry those relative newcomers shared, something that doesn’t really happen for the older bunch.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Does it retain the heart of the first chapter?

Much of [its] strength is focused on the heart… when things do connect, all the right heartstrings are tugged.
Michael Roffman, Consequence of Sound

Beneath all the big special effects and geysers of blood of It Chapter Two exists people who build their houses in your heart. We live and die with these characters.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

The heart of the first film is still there in It Chapter Two – it’s just buried under a layer of self-indulgent bloat.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

And the humor?

The film’s character-driven humor works far better than the jarring, Evil Dead-style gags used during what are supposed to be scary moments.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

The humor feels too present at times, the film’s tone wobbles and suffers as a result.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

It’s so intent on being “funny” that it undercuts its ability to be scary.
Scott Mendelson, Forbes


(Photo by Brooke Palmer/© 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.)

Is it scary?

The film is never quite as scary as it should be, but it’s often disturbing and upsetting to the point where you’re guaranteed to feel uncomfortable – and that’s exciting.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

The one that opens the film… is the film’s horrifying high point and an intensely terrifying sequence that dwarfs the less human monsters that follow.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Nearly all the scares that follow are hallucinatory in nature, most of them sight gags made possible by CGI.
Peter Debruge, Variety

The film relies far more on CGI and jump scares than even its predecessor did. And some of these CG monsters aren’t particularly well done.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

It seems a weird thing to say in a horror movie, but too many extended spookhouse sequences lessen the impact of each one.
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

What it’s not is very scary… you get Stranger Things-style spooks here, and that’s just fine.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

But Skarsgård’s Pennywise is still nightmare fuel?

Skarsgård remains a firestorm in the villainous role… hilarious and horrifying in a way distinctly all his own.
Haleigh Foutch, Collider

Skarsgård is incredibly terrifying… [he] has made Pennywise his own and quite literally knocks it out of the park.
Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings

He’s legit terrifying in the first film, but he’s somewhat short-changed here outside of a haunting sequence in his human form.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Will fans of the book be happy?

I think fans of Stephen King are going to really enjoy IT Chapter Two.
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

Muschietti delivered on his promise of indulging in the spiritual side of King’s 1986 novel.
Michael Roffman, Consequence of Sound

It Chapter Two may never quite live up to its built-in hype, but it delivers on King’s message – and how can you beat that?
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

I believe most audiences will like the changes made to the Ritual, but die-hard book fans may not like it depending on how much they enjoy change.
Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings

Once you realize how faithful to the novel the movie’s trying to be, you get the sense that It Chapter Two is meant to read strangely… intentionally off, childlike, and the sort of thing one could imagine King having a soft chuckle at.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, io9

And what about that epic runtime?

It: Chapter Two is much longer than it needs to be, but it builds to something significant.
Peter Debruge, Variety

This 2-hour-49-minute movie drags more than it jumps, wearing out its premise and possibly also your patience as it lumbers toward the final showdown.
A.O. Scott, New York Times

Some spectacle [is] hard to stay too invested in or get scared by when you might find yourself checking your watch.
Brandon Davis,

It Chapter Two is a long film that thankfully never feels its length.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

It: Chapter Two opens everywhere on September 6.


It Chapter Two (2019)

Adjusted Score: 80.168%
Critics Consensus: It: Chapter Two proves bigger doesn't always mean scarier for horror sequels, but a fine cast and faithful approach to the source material keep this follow-up afloat.
Synopsis: Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began... [More]
Directed By: Andy Muschietti

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