‘IT Chapter Two’ doesn’t quite have it

(From left to right) Richie, Beverly, Bill, Eddie, Mike and Ben search for Ben's secret hideout to uncover the memories that they have forgotten. (Tribune News Service)

The embodiment of evil and fear returns to the town of Derry, Maine, again in clown form after 27 years of being forced into the darkness of the sewer system’s abyss in “IT Chapter Two.”

Beginning the movie with a flashback of the ‘Loser Club’ kids from the first movie’s ending, “IT,” fans were able to see the connection between how much the familiar children have grown up as they all moved away from their hometown, except for Mike.

A firm reminder of the children’s bloody friendship ritual is brought up in memory of Pennywise’s murderous reign when Bill, the group’s leader, says: “Swear, if it ever comes back, we’ll come back too.”

The movie continues this sequence of switching back and forth between the children’s flashbacks of trauma and the transition of where they all ended up in their adult lives. 

Stepping away from Bill as the main character, on whom everything is centered, Mike clearly becomes the new person has to find a way to bring everyone back together after several decades have passed.

The stories of how each character is brought back to Derry happen simultaneously, as Pennywise finally returns with more gore and suspense than ever before.

Compared to “IT,” jumpscares were brought down to a minimum, while blood, guts and gore are exploited in scenes of victims attacked by Pennywise.

In fact, there’s even an unfortunate scene where movie fans get to see Richie throw up, close and in gruesome detail, whether it was something that people wanted to see or not.

To help visualize the personalities of young children growing into adults, several actors continue to keep the well-known personas that fans grew to love. Bill has a stutter when he speaks. Eddie nervously drives a car while simultaneously having a nervous breakdown. Beverly, obviously, is noted for her auburn hair.

Focusing on themes of friendship and conquering individual fear to purify the town of Derry for good, each character must find a way to retrieve an artifact from their childhood that both helps them remember what happened during Pennywise’s reign of terror and realize that getting rid of that same artifact is necessary to participate in a Native American ritual to capture Pennywise and trap him forever.

Stephen King, the author of “IT” and “IT Chapter Two” even awed movie fans as he made a cameo as the antique shop owner where Bill finds the bike he always rode as a kid.

The collection of memories each character must accomplish pursuing serves to fill in the holes of what each character was, and is still scared of as an adult. These childhood fears that come to life incite a similar, twisted feeling of a fight or flight reaction.

Georgie, Bill’s younger brother from “IT,” continues to remain a psychological problem that Pennywise exploits. The innocence of children plays an important role in the movie to make each adult focus on why they all came back to Derry. 

Bill, Eddie, Beverly, Mike and Richie are not kids anymore and realize that Pennywise can’t continue to push them around if they find a concrete way to fight against him to defend each other. That’s why they’re all trusting in Mike as the sole person who knows some obscure solution to defeating Pennywise.

Childhood bullies Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter drive a parallel story of their own as they use ill intentions to wreak havoc on the ‘Loser Club’ when they head back to Derry.

This side story diverges from the main plot and seems to be a part of the movie as a filler. The first “IT” already runs longer than a typical scary movie, and “IT Chapter Two” adds up to a total of two hours and 50 minutes. That’s a lot of time spent focused on this random update on the bullies that doesn’t necessarily add anything meaningful to the battle against Pennywise.

Something that was finally fixed, and well deserved, revolved around the short-lived romance between Ben and Beverly. 

The young boy who never really stopped being in love with Beverly admits that he was the one who wrote her a love poem that Bill ended up getting credit for. In a sweet moment of romance, movie fans welcomed the long-awaited couple that should have gotten their first kiss when they were children.

Balancing friendship and love with fear and destruction, Pennywise ended up outsmarted in a quickly wrapped up defeat that left some wondering how it could have happened. 

The Native American ritual to seal Pennywise away forever failed, because Mike lied to everyone. Attacking Pennywise with words to demean his existence with their lack of fear was already something that happened in “IT” to force the clown into slumber, and it worked again in this movie.

While tying together the battle between the ‘Loser Club’ and Pennywise seemed rather short and easy after Stanley’s and Eddie’s deaths, there did seem a simple way to kill the demonic clown. Just tear his heart out and squeeze the life from it. A simple and done solution to a century of death and mutilation for the townspeople of Derry.

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