Film Review: It Chapter Two (2019)

Release Date: August 26th, 2019 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Based on: It by Stephen King
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Olef, Stephen King (cameo)

KatzSmith Productions, Lin Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment, Double Dream, Rideback, Mehra Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., 170 Minutes

Review:

“For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you… I’ve missed you!” – Pennywise

The adult half of the story to It was never as interesting or as engaging as the child half, so I probably shouldn’t have expected this film to be as good as its predecessor. However, it falls short in other aspects despite just being less interesting.

To start, it’s just too damn long and way too drawn out. The first two acts are slow as hell and I actually found it baffling that this wasn’t something that was fixed in editing.

The worst of it all, was the middle act of the film where all the characters had to go off on their own journeys to deal with their personal demons. I felt like each of these segments was too long and frankly, they could’ve somehow been edited together into one overlapping sequence, as opposed to multiple ones that just felt like their own separate chapters in the story. They felt more like side quests in a video game while taking a break from the main story. That works in a game but it definitely doesn’t work in a motion picture with limited time to tell its story.

Another major negative was the horror itself. I found many parts of the first film to be pretty damn disturbing. In this film, everything came off like this was the diet version of the previous installment. Pennywise wasn’t nearly as terrifying and most of the murders and violence were basic bitch shit. Pennywise pretty much just goes clown piranha and bites people in half. There’s no real creativity to any of it.

Additionally, the final monster was just a giant Pennywise with crab-like limbs. While I’ve knocked how the monster looked in the 1990 TV miniseries, it was at least more imaginative than just making a CGI crab monster with a clown head.

That’s really part of the problem here too. You see, almost every evil entity in the film has to be clown themed. The original novel and TV miniseries deviated from this, as the monster takes many forms. It isn’t specifically a fucked up clown. Pennywise (or It) is a shape-shifting alien from another dimension. He’s also thousands (if not millions) of years old. The MFer predates clowns and really just uses that form to lure in modern children… not adults.

Moving past all the faults working against this film, it is well acted and the cast did a pretty superb job, all things considered. It’s also well shot and visually consistent with its predecessor.

Still, the negatives severely impact the movie as a whole and I just don’t think that I’ll ever want to sit through this again, which is sad, as I really dug the first picture and typically enjoy film adaptations of Stephen King’s work.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor and other recent Stephen King adaptations for the big screen.

Film Review: St. Vincent (2014)

Release Date: September 5th, 2014 (TIFF)
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Written by: Theodore Melfi
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard

Chernin Entertainment, Crescendo Productions, The Weinstein Company, 102 Minutes

Review:

“You need to defend yourself, or you get mowed down.” – Vincent, “I’m small, if you haven’t noticed.” – Oliver, “Yeah, so was Hitler.” – Vincent, “That’s a horrible comparison.” – Oliver, “Indeed. Making a point, though.” – Vincent

*Written in 2014.

I finally got around to catching this film.

I’m a huge Bill Murray fan but then again, who isn’t? I’m not a fan of Melissa McCarthy though, so I found going into this to be a bit of a double-edged sword.

Well, as expected, Murray was pretty damn awesome. This is one of my favorite dramatic roles that he has played and he still brought the comedy where it was needed. His character was also a bit of a departure from what one is used to in a Murray performance.

In modern years, Bill Murray has essentially played Bill Murray. In this film, as Vincent, he was a pretty complex character that was more than just another Bill Murray caricature. He was a hard edged Vietnam veteran with a strong Brooklyn accent and a backstory that was heartbreaking and heartwarming as it unfolded throughout the movie.

Melissa McCarthy also impressed me in this film. I have to give her props on her mostly dramatic performance and I hope to see more acting from her like this. My issue with her in the past, is that she came off as the female Chris Farley. Everything about her career revolved around comedy based off of her weight. I just find that to be a low form of comedy and not that funny. Additionally, where she isn’t a walking fat joke, she fills the void with lewdness and crassness that has become the norm in modern comedy but just goes to show how shitty modern comedy has become.

Jaeden Lieberher, who plays the boy in the film, acted really well for a kid with a pretty small filmography thus far. His character befriends the grumpy and mean Vincent and it is the relationship between these two that propels this film.

Chris O’Dowd plays a teacher/priest that goes on to expand his acting chops and gives us another great and witty character. Vincent’s pregnant Russian hooker girlfriend is played by Naomi Watts and she is pretty hilarious here. I didn’t even realize it was her until about halfway through the film. Terrence Howard plays an asshole bookie but is almost a forgettable and unnecessary character.

This is a really good picture for Theodore Melfi, a first time feature film director. It’ll be interesting to see what he does next, as this was a stellar first effort. Melfi, with the help of this great cast, gave us one of the best films of the year, in my honest opinion.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Some of Bill Murray’s other films like The Life AquaticBroken Flowers and Lost In Translation.

Film Review: It (2017)

Release Date: September 5th, 2017 (TCL Chinese Theatre)
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Written by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Based on: It by Stephen King
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs

New Line Cinema, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, KatzSmith Productions, Warner Bros., 135 Minutes

Review:

“When you’re a kid, you think that you’ll always be… protected, and cared for. Then, one day, you realize that’s not true. If you open your eyes, you will see what we’re going through. ‘Cause when you’re alone as a kid, the monsters see you as weaker. You don’t even know they’re getting closer. Until it’s too late.” – Stanley Uris

I was a few weeks late, in seeing this. That’s not my fault, it is the fault of Hurricane Irma, who decided to bring her own version of horror, darkness and a lot of water. An inconvenient but impressive attempt at stealing It‘s thunder away from the residents of Florida.

Anyway, I can’t say that I was super excited about It. I was not a fan of the original adaptation and I’m not a huge Stephen King fan, from a literary standpoint. While I do like some of his work and have enjoyed some of the cinematic adaptations, over the years, a good King film is really hard to come by. Plus, I still can’t get rid of the foul taste that The Dark Tower left in my mouth, just last month.

It surprised me. In fact, it shocked me how good it was. Now we have a film fighting for a spot in the Holy Trinity of Stephen King Movies. Granted, it won’t usurp The Shining – the 1980 one, The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile but it is probably the best King adaptation outside of that perfect trinity.

While Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown was the only real highlight of the original It, Bill Skarsgård doesn’t try to recreate that magic. Skarsgård makes the role wholly his and gives us a version of Pennywise that is even darker and more terrifying. In fact, Skarsgård’s version of the character could feasibly reach the iconic heights of Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, Christopher Lee’s Dracula or Boris Karloff’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster. Skarsgård absolutely takes over this picture and doesn’t let go for a second. It isn’t often that you see an Oscar caliber horror performance but this is worthy of that distinction. I haven’t been this frightened and intimidated by a Hollywood monster since John Carpenter’s The Thing.

The kids in this movie are also great. While most children can tend to get annoying in films, these are kids that feel real and are real. Their horror and terror is greatly captured, feels authentic and keeps you invested in them. Also, their gravitas and their bravery on screen is astounding. It reminds me of the kids from E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialStand By MeThe Goonies and The Monster Squad but with an extra dose of realism and chutzpah. It probably didn’t hurt that they pulled in Finn Wolfhard from the super popular King inspired Netflix series Stranger Things.

The film is just perfectly cast, from top to bottom.

The cinematography, the sound, the attention to detail, everything visually and audibly just felt right. I was the same age as these kids at the time that this film takes place. I felt like I was reliving a part of my own existence minus creepy clowns, scary flute ladies, disease-ridden hobos, zombies and a rapist father.

The team behind this pulled off magic. It is quite literally lightning in a bottle. While it isn’t perfect, it is pretty damn close.

For those who might not know, the film just covers the timeline when our heroes are kids. It ends with “Chapter One” displayed across the screen. One can assume that Chapter Two, which should follow the adult half of the story, is still to come. Once I looked into it, the director has confirmed that production will most likely begin in the spring of 2018.

Rating: 8.75/10