IT: Chapter Two**1/2
*ing: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa,
Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgard
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Tagline: It ends.
The members of the Losers Club reunite to, once again, face off against Pennywise, the Dancing Clown in IT: Chapter Two, the second instalment of the horror tale based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel. Nearly three decades after they first defeated IT (portrayed again by the outstanding Bill Skarsgard, still fantastic in the role), the childhood friends are now grownups. All except Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) have moved away from Derry. Bill (James McAvoy) has become a successful novelist; Richie (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian; Ben (Jay Ryan) works as an architect; Eddie (James Ransone) is a risk assessor; Stanley (Andy Bean) is an accountant; and Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is in an abusive marriage.
Bound by the promise they made 27 years ago to kill Pennywise if IT came back, the group return to their hometown when it becomes apparent that the demented clown has re-emerged. With only hazy memories of the past, the Losers must face their fears, regrets, and guilt if they want to defeat IT and survive the ordeal.
With a nearly three hour length, Chapter Two struggles to maintain a taut narrative and its scares end up feeling repetitive. The film goes on a meandering, overlong journey as each of the friends confront past traumas or recall childhood experiences. The flashbacks give the young cast of the first movie – including the terrific Finn Wolfhard and Sophia Lillis – to reprise their roles and steal the show along the way.
Hader is perfectly cast here and delivers a standout performance, but the rest of the adult cast, even though it comprises of some amazing acting talent, isn’t always as effective as their younger counterparts. McAvoy, for instance, seems miscast here. And Chastain doesn’t make a very convincing Beverly and is effortlessly outshone by Lillis.
Despite its flaws though, Chapter Two still makes for an intermittently interesting viewing, particularly if you enjoyed the first instalment. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is still likely to please fans of the series or the novel it is based on.
*ing (voices): Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, and Michelle Wong
Directed by Jill Culton
Tagline: Find your way home.
The protagonist is Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet), a feisty violin-playing teenager who is working hard to save money for a trip across China that her late father had been planning for their family. Yi suddenly finds herself on an unexpected adventure when she comes across a wounded yeti on the roof of her apartment building. Turns out her new friend is being pursued by a zoologist (Sarah Paulson) who wants to capture him along with a wealthy man (Eddie Izzard) who is on a mission to prove that yetis exist.
After surmising that the yeti is from Everest, Yi embarks on a journey across her country to help the misplaced being – thereby nicknamed Everest – go back to where he belongs and reunite with his family. Her (initially reluctant) popularity-obsessed neighbour Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and his basketball-loving younger cousin Peng (Albert Tsai) come along for the ride. Together, the group must evade the bad guys while dispensing a few lessons along the way.
Despite its familiar building blocks, Abominable easily charms viewers with its sweetness. There may not be anything particularly exceptional about the storyline (or the performances of the voice cast, for that matter), but the affable characters, beautiful visuals, touching musical moments, and poignant turns make sure that the drama remains engaging.
A little more imagination would have helped elevate the adventure and make it more memorable. As it stands, Abominable may not be as remarkable as its obvious influences – like the timeless E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or Pixar’s instant-classic Up, for instance – but the movie still makes for some amicable, entertaining family viewing.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection