Tag Archives: Andy Muschietti

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough
Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh
Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom
Bill Hader as Richie Tozier
Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon
James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak
Andy Bean as Stanley Uris
Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Director: Andy Muschietti

Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns 27 years later to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise — now more powerful than ever.

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It Chapter Two was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. The first It was quite good, and from what I can tell adapted part of Stephen King’s classic novel to the big screen rather faithfully. However, that movie only told half of the story, whether it still worked depended on the second half. With the same team returning, and the likes of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as part of the older cast, I was looking forward to it. It’s ambitious, very well directed, the cast was great, and a satisfying conclusion to the It story.

I’d advise people who are seeing It Chapter Two to watch the first movie somewhat recently beforehand, it’s best going into the movie with Chapter One fresh in your mind. As for people who haven’t seen the first movie at all, Chapter Two is not a movie you can just go into without seeing the first, you’ll be completely lost. There is a long period in the first half that’s necessary to the story and characters but I’m not sure it works as well as it should’ve. It’s mainly consisting of the main characters going back to places they’ve been to as children and remembering certain things. There’s a purpose for doing this with all the characters, however the problem is that for the most part all the scenes follow the same structure: the adult character goes to that familiar place, have a flashback which usually ends in an encounter with Pennywise, and then in present day coming across Pennywise themselves. These scenes are necessary for the plot, it’s just that it felt a little too repetitive. I heard something along the lines that there’d be a version which put the two movies together, placing the scenes in chronological order and that should be interesting. Despite all the things about what I just said and some of the scenes meandering a bit, I was really invested with the movie and the characters, even more so than the first movie. This movie is really ambitious to cover it all in one movie, and most of it works. All the build up in the first two acts really pays off, as the third act is fantastic, won’t go into depth with that here. There are some changes from the books, some of it was shot and removed, others didn’t make it to being filmed. For example, there are subplots like with Beverly’s husband and Bill’s wife that were in the book but not in the movie, I haven’t read the book but I think that it was a good call not to feature them in the movie. Last thing to note, as people have no doubt seen and sometimes complained about, this movie is almost 3 hours long. Considering that the book is 1000 pages long, it’s not really too surprising that it’s this long. If you’re invested in the story, that won’t be a problem for you because it wasn’t a problem for me. Looking back on everything, I’m not sure what exactly I’d cut from the movie, there’s a lot here that’s necessary for the story, even if some of it could’ve been handled differently. Besides, I’d much rather a lengthy movie that takes its time with its story, then a 2 hour 20 minute (studio mandated) version that feels really cut down. Some people have asked whether splitting it into 2 parts was necessary, and looking at everything I’d definitely say yes.

The cast is all around great, with James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean playing the older versions of the Loser’s Club from the first movie. They actually seemed like older versions of the younger cast (James Ransone particularly seems like an older Jack Dylan Grazer), and when it comes to casting adult versions of child actors, this is one of the best examples I’ve seen in movies. I generally liked what they did with the characters. I also liked what they did with Mike’s (Isaiah Mustafa) character, from what I can tell he really didn’t get to do much in the book, here they gave him more to work with, with him being the only one who stayed in Derry and really the one out of the group who knows the most about Pennywise and what they might need to do in order to kill him. Ever since the movie started being shown, there has been particular praise going towards Bill Hader, and for very good reason. He not only delivers a lot of the funniest moments of the movie, he also delivers some of the more emotional scenes of the movie. I admit I’m not familiar with much of his work (no I haven’t seen Barry yet) but after seeing him here, I really want to check them out. You also see the younger cast appear often in flashbacks, and as usual they are very good in their roles. You don’t see as much of Pennywise, or at least compared to the amount in the first movie, but Bill Skarsgård is great in his scenes. Unfortunately yet again they do tend to overuse the amount of CGI on him, even though there are parts that are absolutely necessary to use those effects, Skarsgård is more effective and scary when he’s just acting on his own without all that. Nonetheless, him and director Andy Muschietti has completely redefined Pennywise and they’ve done a great job at bringing him to the big screen. There are also a couple of cameos worth keeping your eye peeled for.

Andi Muschietti returned to direct, and he’s done a really good job yet again. It really looks great, the town of Derry even in the 2010s still really feels uneasy. If you didn’t find the first movie scary, you probably won’t be scared by the second. I don’t go into horror movies judging them by their scare factors, because usually I’m not scared by horror movies. With that said, there are some scares here that are quite predictable and done like plenty of other horror movies have done, for example the classic ‘character looks at a room when they think there’s danger and see nothing, and when they turn around there’s something scary right up in their (and the audience’s) face’ is present multiple times. I do appreciate how graphic and disturbing Muschietti is willing to take this, he really does not hold back in the darker and twisted aspects. The CGI for the most part is good but some of the larger effects are a little too cartoonish and silly at times. Benjamin Wallfisch also returns to provide the score for the sequel and it’s once again effective and elevates the movie even further.

Looking at the reactions, it seems that that It Chapter Two won’t work for everyone perfectly. Despite some of the messiness and some of the issues I have, I do like Chapter Two more than Chapter One. Although I haven’t read the book, I know about it, and I saw the miniseries, which really didn’t work. With these two movies it’s an achievement in itself that they managed to pull this off, and them being as good as they are is. Considering the amount of content that Stephen King packed into that one book (and some of the weirdness that was understandably cut from it in the movies), I think this is probably as good as an adaptation of the book as we’ll probably get. If you weren’t a fan of the first movie, I’m not sure that you’ll like the second. If you like the first movie at all however, I do think it’s at least worth checking out Chapter Two, otherwise you’ve really only seen one half of the story.

IT (2017) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language & horror
Cast
Jaeden Lieberher as William “Bill” Denbrough
Bill Skarsgård as It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Jeremy Ray Taylor as Benjamin “Ben” Hanscom
Sophia Lillis as Beverly “Bev” Marsh
Finn Wolfhard as Richard “Richie” Tozier
Wyatt Oleff as Stanley “Stan” Uris
Chosen Jacobs as Michael “Mike” Hanlon
Jack Dylan Grazer as Edward “Eddie” Kaspbrak
Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers
Jackson Robert Scott as George Denbrough
Director: Andy Muschietti

When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, neighborhood kids band together to square off against Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

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As time was going on, 2017’s IT has started becoming one of my most anticipated films of the year. Prior to seeing that movie, I decided to review the 1990 tv mini series. The mini series had its moments but was ultimately a mixed bag, with only Tim Curry’s Pennywise and the kid actors really being particularly good. This new version of IT had me interested however, with its much darker tone. Ultimately it delivered in such a great way, it was everything I wanted this movie to be and more.

First of all I want to clarify that this is not a remake of the 90’s mini series, it’s the second adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, and while I haven’t read it myself from what I can tell, this new film is more accurate to the source material. Something that this movie does quite well is that it only focusses on the kids, it feels a lot more focussed and consistent compared to the mini series, which felt rather jarring when it cut between past and present day (and from the kids to their adult counterparts). This movie is also thankfully rated R, one of the things holding the mini series back (among many things) was that it couldn’t go all out with Stephen King’s darkness. This newer version of IT has the freedom to portray almost anything, at times its actually quite surprising, we see things happen to kids that we don’t usually see. While this is a horror movie, I don’t find it to be the scariest movie ever. It has some creepy and unsettling moments but its not that scary to me (granted I’m not easily scared by horror movies). It’s also not just a horror movie, it is also a coming of age film, so don’t go in just expecting a simple scare-fest. This movie surprisingly has a lot of heart, you really care about these characters and the movie is really about them confronting their fears. IT also has some surprisingly good humour (especially from Finn Wolfhard’s Richie), and it doesn’t feel out of place at all, when present its appropriate and really adds a lot. So this movie has a bit of everything, a little bit of heart, a little bit of comedy, and yes, a whole lot of horror. This movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes long and it feels maybe a little long but I can’t really think of anything I would cut.

Let’s start with the leads, the Loser’s Club, with actors Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophie Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs and Jack Dylan Grazer. All of them were great in their roles, and the chemistry between them is great. They really did feel like real kids, especially with the dialogue between them. It never felt like an older person trying to write for children and being out of touch, it feels real and authentic. Also, you can buy these kids being friends, they are all outcasts and underdogs, and its so easy to root for them. Here’s the thing, it wouldn’t matter how scary this movie is, if the kids failed, this movie would fail, and thankfully they were incredibly great. Honestly the only issue I have is that some of them don’t get enough development, but even then, those characters aren’t weak, ther just needed some more screentime and development.

Bill Skarsgård plays Pennywise the Clown, and he had a lot to live up to. I’ll do my best to try to avoid comparing his version to Tim Curry’s, but I can at least say that it’s a very different version. Bill is absolutely transformative, the way that Pennywise acts is so bizarre and unlike anything I’ve seen in a movie. While I wasn’t particularly scared by the movie, whenever there were creepy and unsettling moments, he was always a part of it. He wasn’t goofy at all, he was never intentionally funny, he was this incredibly bizarre creature that was unnerving to watch. I think one thing that makes him effective (much more than Curry’s version) is that he’s not just a scary clown, he was something more, he’s not just attacking people using only his clown form. Everything from Bill’s acting and 100% dedication, the direction and the visuals was absolutely amazingly done. I honestly can’t compare this performance to any other performance I’ve seen before, that’s how great it was. Pennywise was absolutely one of the best parts of the movie. The only problem I had was that I wanted to see a lot more of him. I have a feeling that director Andy Muschietti wanted to make sure that Pennywise didn’t overshadow the kids, who really are the heart and centre of the film, which I guess is understandable. Let’s just hope that we’ll be getting a lot more of him in the second chapter.

The direction by Andy Muschietti is so great, the cinematography is so beautiful and the visuals look amazing. It really does feel like its set in the 80s, from the music used, to the costume and set design, everything. The set design especially is great, highlights were the sewer scenes, there was such attention to detail. There are a couple moments where some segments feel a little ‘too 80s’, but its not too distracting. The only potential issues I have with the direction is that there was some occasional shaky camerawork in the climax. This movie doesn’t have a whole lot of blood, but when its bloody, it is really bloody, and it feels appropriate. As I mentioned, this movie isn’t really that scary, but it is great at having some unsettling and disturbing moments and imagery. The score by Benjamin Wallfisch is rather suiting, ranging from whimsical and almost Danny Elfman-esque to straight up intense.

IT was great and met all my expectations. Along with the very strong story and direction, the kids were written and acted fantastically and Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise is nothing I’ve ever seen before. Again, don’t go in expecting an extremely scary horror movie, expect a coming of age tale with likable protagonists and a freaky clown who will surely leave an impression on you. It’s one of the best Stephen King movies yet (granted that’s not saying a lot). Even though the second half of the 1990 mini series was rather weak, I can’t wait to see the next chapter. Muschietti did such a great job with this first half that I can just tell that the follow up will be just as great.