IT Chapter Two is the sequel to 2017's IT Chapter One and the final installment in Warner Bros.' series directed by Andy Muschietti, yet the movie doesn't have the same glowing reviews as the first film did when it released two years ago. Based on the 1986 novel IT by Stephen King, IT Chapter One and IT Chapter Two chronicle The Losers' Club's confrontation with Pennywise the Clown, first in 1989 (as kids) and again in 2016 (as adults). But there are bigger differences than that.
With IT Chapter Two's all-star cast, consisting of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Bill Skarsgård, and more, the sequel captures the spirit of King's novel as well as the basic storyline. Of course, some changes have been made along the way, which is standard for any book-to-film adaptation. But it seems some of the creative decisions put off film critics enough for them to justify giving the sequel negative reviews - though quite a few of the reviews were also positive.
General moviegoers seem to be loving IT Chapter Two, for the most part, considering that the film currently has an Audience Score of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the average rating of IT Chapter Two reviews comes in at 6.18/10 (with a Tomatometer score of 64%). That's lower than the average rating IT Chapter One got in 2017: 7.23/10 (with a Tomatometer score of 86%). So why are the IT Chapter Two reviews not as good as the first film's? Here's what the critics had to say about the sequel:
Newsday - Rafer Guzmán
Very little of "It Chapter Two" works. The scary monsters here feel random, not symbolic — Pennywise can become anything from a human-headed spider to an enormous roadside Paul Bunyan — and they're all figments of our heroes' imaginations anyway, so where's the fear?
Observer - Oliver Jones
There is something undeniably bold and even essential about the trick that the It films are trying to pull off. They are reexamining and weaponizing the Spielbergian tropes about childhood to which we have all become accustomed in an attempt to discover the trauma that lies beneath them. But the new chapter doesn’t bring much fresh psychological shading to this process. Instead, the film bombards us with plot and monsters that pile up like toys in the attic.
Star Tribune - Chris Hewitt
Essentially, the new movie covers the second half of King’s 1,138-page doorstop, but even in biting off only half of the book, there’s too much material. “Chapter Two” languishes over two hours and 49 minutes and it feels even longer because of its structure.
Washington Post - Alan Zilberman
Monsters and giant clowns are not the only thing that make the film disturbing. “Chapter Two” opens with a violent hate crime, and adult Beverly (Jessica Chastain) deals with brutal domestic abuse. Maybe these scenes are meant to show this is a more “mature” horror film, except Muschietti does not deal with their ramifications in a sensitive or dramatically consistent way. Real trauma is given the same consideration as a literal funhouse of horrors, which cheapens what the characters and audience are put through.
IndieWire - Kate Erbland
By the time “It Chapter Two” lurches toward the Losers’ ultimate battle with Pennywise, the film has been permeated by a sense of deja vu; it’s a whole lot less scary or fun the second time around.
It seems the general consensus among the more negative reviews is that IT Chapter Two may have been unnecessarily long and convoluted, which resulted in pacing issues. Given how expansive the source material is, it stands to reason that IT Chapter Two couldn't have been any shorter than what it was. Trimming anything could theoretically be detrimental to the plot. Furthermore, some critics are disappointed that IT Chapter Two isn't as scary as the first film, with the blockbuster being more of an epic drama than a horror story. All of these points are fair criticisms, but they don't represent the entire critic base.
Salon - Matthew Rozsa
Overall, "It Chapter Two" is a fitting companion piece to the first film. There are flaws, to be sure, but nothing you wouldn't expect going in. If you liked "It," then you definitely won't be disappointed. If you didn't, why are you even here in the first place?
RogerEbert.com - Christy Lemire
“It Chapter Two” can be a sprawling, unwieldy mess—overlong, overstuffed and full of frustrating detours—but its casting is so spot-on, its actors have such great chemistry and its monster effects are so deliriously ghoulish that the film keeps you hooked.
ReelViews - James Berardinelli
Considering the challenges associated with adapting the second half of the novel, the filmmakers have done an adequate job, which is probably all that's needed to make Chapter Two a major box office success.
Chicago Sun Times - Richard Roeper
This is a solid, extremely well-crafted, great-looking and occasionally quite chilling film, with terrific performances by the grown-ups as well as the returning kids.
Variety - Peter Debruge
The pop pulp shiver-giver inspires in readers a kind of ravenous insatiability that has thwarted his false-alarm retirement and felled more trees than the fires blazing in the Amazon rainforest. That same appetite helped feed the excitement for director Andy Muschietti’s “It” — a monster hit two years ago, earning more than $700 million — and ought to bring audiences back in even greater numbers for “It: Chapter Two,” an elaborate fun-house horror movie that springs pop-up gimmicks and boogie-boogie scares steadily enough to excuse its been-there story and self-important 169-minute running time.
Overall, IT Chapter Two reviews appear to be mixed but skew positive, because it does everything that it needed to without being a disservice to the characters, story, or source material - at least in a general sense. Sure, it's arguable that the creative changes made to the story and some of the characters may have been ill-advised, but that doesn't mean the adjustments don't work. Audiences seem to love the sequel so far, and in the end, that's what truly matters.