Friday 13 September 2019

Film: 'It - Chapter 2'

So I've reached it - now 5,000 films seen in a cinema, and henceforward I'll be reducing my cinema-going regime, only taking in those films I really want to see. More about that at the end of this posting. First 'It - Chapter 2':-

Back in the 1980s I used to consider myself one of the world's biggest Stephen King fans. Then, however, his subsequent novels, with just one or two exceptions (most notably 'Misery') seemed to lack the punch and memorability of his earliest ones - and 'It' became one of his books which, despite a terrific opening, ended up in the 'He's-written-better' category.  

I found the film of the first instalment (2017) of this two-parter just 'okay', not more special than that, giving it a rating of 5/10. So there was room to be more impressed with this one. 
In the decades since reading the novel of mighty length (as are so many of King's) I've all but forgotten what happened so came to this film with almost a clean slate, only recalling the evil, shape-transforming clown Pennywise (played by returning Bill Skarsgard) - scary, but not quite to the depth one might have wanted.
After a brief prologue featuring seven of the kids who'd confronted Pennywise in the previous part, now taking a blood oath that they'd meet up again if ever the clown returned, the major part of this film jumps forward to the group as adults (well, six of them, including James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain) meeting up again in a Chinese restaurant, the venue for the first of many (too many?) set pieces of full in-your-face, special effects horror. 
There are frequent shortish retrospective scenes of the six adults as their younger selves in exploratory, fooling around mode, discovering horrors.

Needs must mention that before this adult group's restaurant rendezvous there's a hideously violent, extended incident of gay-bashing against two young men, bone crunching and bloody, probably the most intense of this particular kind of assault I've ever seen on screen, and every bit as horrific as anything later in the film. In one or two further sequences later on homophobic put-downs are flung around with abandon. 

The film 'proper', having started with the restaurant, moves episodically to Pennywise confronting each of the group separately and in turn, with his full bag of horror tricks, he appearing in various forms and identities, some of which are quite imaginative, I must admit - and then all the group together confront him in his various guises until the overblown, protracted showdown - by which time my fatigue at the constant barrage of special effects was getting me down and, frankly, bored. The film is just 15 mins short of three hours, which is a huge ask for the audience in staying with it. 
A lot of the 'shocks' are of the 'silence - CRASH!!!' type which would only make the uninitiated jump out of their seats, while those of us used to the hackneyed technique have become inured to their predictability and can see them coming from miles off.

Looking back I found the creepiest part of the entire film was not Pennywise's many clever-clogs antics but when Jessica Chastain visits her family childhood apartment to find an old woman living there alone , and who invites her in for a cup of tea. There are no special effects at all, only the woman who, when she turns her face  away, with a sinister smile speaks volumes of horror more than all tricksy effects can muster, That was the only part of the film which truly freaked me out.
I was also surprised and quite thrilled to see Stephen King himself appearing in a brief cameo role.

It's a tiring film to watch in much the same way that I found each of the Harry Potter films extremely wearing on both mind and derriere, though the Potters have denser material to work with under a veneer of plausibility if you accept the world of wizardry, but 'It' is pure hokum from first to last. 

Director Andy Muschietti, whose only the second feature film this appears to be, pulls out all the stops with this and rarely uses subtlety - though that old woman episode was a laudable  exception. 
There are at least three conspicuous direct references to earlier horror films - 'Psycho', 'The Thing' and 'The Shining' are the ones I noticed (You could hardly miss them!) There were probably more. 

I can't imagine anyone having liked the first part will feel short-changed by this. As for me, well it was a relief to have got the darned thing over with!..............4.5.

(IMDb......................7.1 / Rott.Toms.......4.1 / 5 )

Now, having attained the cinema-going 'score' I was aiming at and having awaited for years, I'll now only be seeing films I genuinely wish to, not including those I feel ought to be seen. 
My first 'big' cinema year was 1966 when I was 19, so an easy calculation will demonstrate that since then my average has been to see about two films per week. My highest attendance rate was in 1978 when I went 205 times, the lowest being, in fact, this present year, probably finishing between 70 and 80. I think in future I may be reducing it to around just one a week, but we'll see how it goes.
So apologies to anyone who'll be disappointed to my going 'only' 50 times in a year, but there you are - one gets older!  Now 'scuse me while I go and make my booking for the next couple of weeks - a mere four visits. ;-) 


  1. Well done in reaching your goal. I have long since given up going to movies that I don't want to. If it doesn't interest me I'm not paying for a ticket. Sometimes it slim pickings and I might only get to see one a fortnight.

    Happy viewing.

    1. Thanks, Poppy. I doubt if many, or any, will notice a difference in my reduced frequency, though it will be some relief to cease attending screenings which I simply know in advance I am not going to like. I think after all these years of doing my 'duty' I can start to revel in retirement.

  2. I found the movie good, not great, not scary, save for a couple of scenes. But I did note that at the end of the film, you realize one of the now-grown kids is gay and in love with one of the other kids. That wasn't in the book, but King gave the inclusion his blessing.

    And i look forward to whatever films you review because I love your perspective and attention to detail in your reviews.

    1. Thanks to you too, Bob. There won't be a great deal of difference in my future reviews other than getting a little less frequent. You'll be able to tell I've failed if I'm still giving certain films a rating of less than 5/10.

      As I say above, it's so long now since I read 'It' that it didn't much matter if anything in the film was in the book or not.
      I did only just catch that bit about the adult gay but it was only on the edge of my awareness as by then I was exhausted beyond caring much.

  3. Between 70 and 80 this past year? I haven’t been out to see ONE in more than 10 years! Wow! Anyway, I love Steven King but burned out some years ago. And I can’t stomach the ugliness in It, so I’ll pass!

    1. I can hardly believe it, Mitch - you haven't been to the cinema even once in TEN years! That must be some kind of a monk-like record! Sounds like you're not going out of principal! All I can say, most sincerely, is "Well done!
      Anyway if were ever going to break your 'abstinence' this film is NOT the one to do it with. But I'll be more than interested to know which film finally does do it for you - if there ever is going to be one.

    2. We got tired of the audience talking in theatres when we lived in the States and Jerry likes to know “the process” so I still have gotten him into a theatre in Spain. What I should do is go by myself and then explain “the process” to him!

    3. I don't experience many talkative audiences, Mitch, though going to mainly matinees helps with their smaller audiences, hardly ever in the evening at peak screening times.
      What I do find especially annoying is that one still sees, despite pre-feature requests not to do it, is mobile phones being lit up. More than once I've had to get out of my seat and walk over to warn them which, so far, has worked.
      But I'll hang on to the hope that one day we'll read one of your own reviews - and for a film I'd not yet seen.

  4. Patience above! what a record! good for you!
    I appreciate these reviews even when i don't see the films.

    1. It's not really that many when compared with film critics in newspapers. I'd expect them to be seeing a minimum of ten films per week, perhaps double that.
      Nonetheless, thanks for your appreciation.

  5. Wow, that is really amazing. I may have watched that many films, but mostly on the tv and dvd. I hope to add to my cinema quota this weekend with Ad Astra...

    1. I only include films seen in the cinema, D, because that's the medium for which they were intended - well, 99% of them. I hardy ever watch films on TV - and even rarer on DVD - and if I do it's just about always because I want to see something again which I've already seen.

      Hoping to see 'Ad Astra' in next few days. Doesn't look at all bad from the trailer.