Pennywise’s Final Showdown
Everyone, including Warner Brothers, were surprised when It became a massive box office hit in 2017. Adapting Stephen King’s sprawling novel about an evil clown creature haunting seven children one summer in Derry, Maine, the book’s structure neatly demanded a sequel. This being Hollywood, It: Chapter Two arrives only two years later with an immensely satisfying conclusion to the Losers Club confronting Pennywise.
Now twenty seven years later, members of the Losers Club have become adults with heavy emotional baggage. Living separate lives far away from Derry, they feel the pull to return when Mike calls and reminds them of their childhood experience battling Pennywise. Each one has led very different lives, having mostly forgotten what took place in Derry that one summer.
It: Chapter Two doesn’t skimp on starpower for its adult cast members. James McAvoy (Glass) stars as Bill, Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) as Beverly, Bill Hader (HBO’s Barry) as Richie, and Isaiah Mustafa as Mike. Bill Skarsgård reprises his masterful portrayal of Pennywise. There’s no doubt that McAvoy and Chastain are meant to get the most attention in the screenplay.
It: Chapter Two wraps up the saga with a satisfying finish
It: Chapter Two wraps up the saga with a satisfying finish
Bill Hader’s snappy one-liners add a whole new dimension needed in a sequel that runs nearly three hours. Few horror movies can survive the weight of three hours, maintaining the necessary tension needed to keep audiences alert. His comedic relief adds an essential ingredient, breaking up the endless cat-and-mouse battle between the Losers Club and Pennywise.
Directed by Andy Muschietti from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle), It: Chapter Two wraps up the saga with a satisfying finish. If you enjoyed the first It‘s tone and creative frights, this won’t be a disappointment. This is not quite the horror masterpiece of the first movie, but brings back all the necessary components needed for a good time.
Heavy on well-constructed set pieces and extended character moments that mostly work, the general plot isn’t far removed from King’s own novel. Some creative license and changes have been made for the purposes of time. The Losers Club’s outside relationships as adults, away from each other, are mostly cut, only shown when it may impact their developing character arc.
Even with the changes made, ten minutes shy of three hours is simply too long for one horror movie. Hardcore fans may eat it up but general audiences will feel exhausted. It: Chapter Two could have neatly been split into three episodes on a premium channel like HBO. That may have been better for everyone involved except the studio’s accountants.
It: Chapter Two was finished at 2K resolution, primarily filmed with Arri Alexa digital cameras in raw 3.4K resolution. Warner has included both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ enhancements for capable 4K displays. The HDR color grading for UHD has some terrific moments of splendid visual highlights – the carnival scene has dazzling lights and the final confrontation with Pennywise looks extra creepy with his sinister shade of red all over the screen. The color grading changes according to time and place, all masterfully composed and wisely chosen. The splendid tonal range should give your display quite the workout.
The UHD gives the entire main feature, nearly 170 minutes in all, to a BD-100. The 2.39:1 presentation at 2160P resolution exudes razor-sharp detail and precise definition without ever feeling like a modern digital production. Quickly checking the included BD for comparison, there’s a substantial bump in texture, shadow highlights and overall clarity for the UHD. It: Chapter Two’s picture quality really sings in the Derry flashbacks, changing tone and aesthetic for maximum clarity.
Most impressive is the eye-opening definition and shadow delineation in the darker scenes as the Losers Club battles Pennywise in his domain. The superb black levels and finely-tuned contrast mark this as a carefully filmed Hollywood production that spent a fortune getting everything technically correct.
The horror movie’s widespread CGI and VFX blend nicely into the composition without revealing many seams. They may be a touch softer but picture quality isn’t compromised. It: Chapter Two is clearly worth it on UHD as a visible upgrade over ordinary 1080p video.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is layered with a sweeping array of creepy sound effects and intelligently discrete placement. Set pieces have the most engaging audio with a blur of surround activity and LFE involvement, otherwise It: Chapter Two’s Atmos mix is tasteful and subtle. Overhead immersion nicely adds to the soundstage’s depth as Pennywise’s most terrifying scenes perfectly fit the Atmos paradigm.
Intelligible dialogue and excellent dynamic range nicely mesh in most scenes. This is a home theater mix that adds to the movie’s horror and provides tangible atmosphere far beyond what ordinary DTS-HD MA or TrueHD can deliver. Waves of articulated low-end extension create palpable suspense and build a feeling of terror.
WB has included plentiful dub and subtitle options on the UHD and BD. English SDH, French, Spanish and eight other optional subtitle options display in a white font, always inside the 2.39:1 presentation. French, Spanish, and Portuguese dubs in 5.1 Dolby Digital headline at least eight different choices.
Like most other studios, Warner has shifted almost all bonus content in the UHD combo pack to the included Blu-rays. The lone extra feature on the UHD itself is director Andy Muschietti’s solo commentary. The remaining special features are on a second BD. The combo pack includes a UHD, two BDs, and an MA digital copy that redeems in UHD quality. A fairly ordinary slipcover is available.
Best Buy is carrying an exclusive 4K UHD Steelbook edition. It is interesting to note that no deleted scenes are included when there had to be surplus footage leftover. Methinks a longer extended cut may show up down the road.
Audio commentary by Director Andy Muschietti – Something should be said for Muschietti’s sheer endurance, giving a solo commentary with few breaks for a three-hour movie. The director is adept at explaining his creative choices, why the book’s ending wasn’t used, and sharing interesting behind-the-scenes nuggets that only a director would know. A rumored longer cut of both movies wrapped together supposedly exists and may show up on a streaming outlet down the line.
The Summers of IT: Chapter One, You’ll Float Too (35:38 in HD) – More a true documentary than some EPK featurette, this extended piece nicely interviews critical cast members and a surplus of behind-the-scenes footage during production. Hollywood rarely makes anymore these kind of in-depth and revealing special features.
The Summers of IT: Chapter Two, IT Ends (39:30 in HD) – A follow-up documentary with more focus on the adult actors that played in the sequel
Pennywise Lives Again! (09:55 in HD) – The process transforming Skarsgård into the fearsome killer clown is covered in this featurette.
This Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun (08:12 in HD) – The two sets of actors that played each member of the Losers Club, both as youngsters and as adults, are weighed in this featurette.
Finding the Deadlights (06:18 in HD) – Author Stephen King makes his obligatory appearance in this featurette.
It:I Chapter Two
Pennywise returns in this long but satisfactory sequel to It, bringing adult stars like Jessica Chastain into the supernatural battle.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 65 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: