Tonight, like the grown-up versions of the Losers Club, I will be returning to Derry, Maine to face Pennywise and I cannot wait. It’s been a couple of years since Andy Muschietti brought us It: Chapter One and I have been looking forward to Chapter Two ever since.
What I loved about Chapter One was that it felt like a horror version of The Goonies (I mean this in a positive way!). I wasn’t terrified by it, but I absolutely loved it. Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise was superb, the Losers Club were brilliant, the script was excellent, the music, the cinematography, etc. I loved it. I loved it so much I gave it 10/10 on the podcast (under a little pressure from my hermano) and put it at the top of my list of films of the year.
So…I’m going to be really disappointed, aren’t I?
For the most part I’ve tried not to read reviews of Chapter Two, but I’ve noticed some ** and *** reviews online. The Rotten Tomatoes percentage hasn’t been low, but it looks like it’s been dropping a bit as more reviews come in. This, on its own, doesn’t necessarily mean anything. There are films I love that do not have glowing reviews and there are films I despise that are critically acclaimed…but it does set off a little warning bell (not quite a klaxon).
One of the joys of Chapter One, for me, was that it surpassed expectations. I am a big Stephen King fan—a big It fan (one of the readings at my wedding was from the novel)—and tackling It for the screen is a mammoth task. The novel makes a brilliant doorstop, it’s a breezeblock of a book! So for Andy Muschietti to have brought such a good 1st half (much credit due to the writers Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman) was a mini-miracle in itself. To pull off a second film maintaining that quality is a very big ask.
Franchises are tricky things. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy has many detractors and I think it’s probably the best cinematic series produced. My favourite franchise is Scream and I’ll be the first to admit that there are some weak entries there (I’m looking at you Scream 2 and 3!). Fans have high expectations and these expectations get even higher when the first entry is as good as Chapter One was. Is there any way for Chapter Two to succeed when the expectation is as high as it is?
The problem then becomes disappointment. We all know what it’s like to eagerly await a film and for it to not be what we wanted. The disappointment we feel can then colour our experience of the film. Instead of the sequel being a good film with some flaws, it becomes a terrible film that ruins the previous entry.
There are, of course, exceptions. T2: Trainspotting (also 2017) was a film which seemed doomed to fail because of the high regard the original is held in. I was incredibly nervous watching it—what if it ruins Trainspotting for me?—but it turned out to be a brilliant sequel that enhances the first film. Scream 4 was a great return to form (although I guess S2 and S3 had lowered my expectations enough that 4 easily surpassed them).
Having said all of this there are reasons to be optimistic. The grown-up versions of the Losers Club have been cast really well (on paper at least) and all the trailers I've seen have looked great. So, some hope to be had.
Then there's the other question: Which is a better version of It, this one or the 1990 Tim Curry mini-series? When Chapter One came out in 2017 I didn't feel like comparisons between the two could be made because there was a final chapter to come. With the release of Chapter Two we will be in a position to compare and contrast both versions as complete works. My instinct would be that, while Tin Curry's Pennywise is terrifying and I have a soft spot for the 1990 version, the current adaptation is superior...but then Chapter Two might be a huge disappointment...
It’s all supposition though because while it is unlikely that Chapter Two will be as good as Chapter One I am still incredibly excited to be floating down to Derry tonight.