Spoiler Free: It Chapter Two (2019) | Movie Review |

What happens in Derry stays in Derry until eerie things start popping off 27 years later. It Chapter Two is the sequel to the 2017 hit supernatural horror It, which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Director Andy Muschietti returns, but this time the Losers Clubs are adults who return to Derry to take out the mystical being known as Pennywise once and for all. Spoiler FREE review after the trailer.

A Score and Seven Years Later

Set 27 years after the events of the first film, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) has risen from hibernation to torment the citizens of Derry, Maine once again. After mysterious events happen in his small town, Derry lifer Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) gets his old club together to take on Pennywise. Now adults in their mid-40s, Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) have all moved on past the events that would’ve scared a normal child for life.

IMDB/It Chapter Two

The adult versions of the kids from the first film were perfectly cast in the sequel.  Pictured above and below are the Losers Club as adults and children, respectively. Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor Chosen Jacobs, and Wyatt Oleff reprise their roles from the first film. The film utilizes flashbacks and the younger actors had to be digitally deaged to match their looks from the first film; this is sometimes noticeable in the film.

Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, and Chosen Jacobs in It (2017)
IMDB/It Chapter One

It was good to see James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in the same film again but this time their talent wasn’t being wasted. At times McAvoy’s Scottish accent would slip out and it makes you wonder when did Bill Denbrough start speaking with an accent. McAvoy did a tremendous job at continuing the stutter that Martell displayed, especially during high stress situations. For her part, Chastain brought her A-game as Beverly Marsh. When asked who she wanted to play the adult version of her character, Sophia Lillis named Chastain who did not disappoint. There is a scene shown in the trailer where Marsh is at her childhood home and there’s a mischievous elderly lady and it’s one of the best scenes in the film.

Isaiah Mustafa, who is best known for being the Old Spice Guy, had the most surprising performance as Mike Hanlon. The childhood version of Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) may have had the roughest childhood compared to the others in the Losers Club and since he never left Derry, he’s the only one who did not forget about what happened, so he has to find various ways to cope with his past.

As far as looks go, Eddie Kaspbrak probably looks the closest to his childhood counterpart. Jack Dylan Grazer and James Ransone might be related, that’s how good the casting is. On another note, Jack Dylan Grazer might be the only child actor this year to star in two movies and have two completely different adults portray the adult version of him.

Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, Jessica Chastain, and Isaiah Mustafa in It Chapter Two (2019)
IMDB/It Chapter Two

When the Losers Club comes back together after over a quarter century of being apart, it feels like old friends are having a good time. There’s an eerily shot scene at a Chinese restaurant where the squad meets up and  you can tell the effects team had fun creating it.

You’ll Float Too

The opening scene in this movie is graphic and apparently comes straight out of the book. In a way, this scene sets the tone of the film and lets the audience know they’re going to watch graphic content for the next 2 hours and 49 minutes. Throughout the film the special effects are amazing to watch, but they’re not as impactful as they were in the first film. The effects team isn’t at fault for this, the onus is on the films writing. Where the first It floats, thanks to its superb writing and character development, its sequel sinks.

It Chapter Two (2019)
IMDB/It Chapter Two

The biggest problem with this film is that bigger doesn’t mean better. The film is nearly 30 minutes longer than the first movie, but it never feels like its time extension is justified. There was robust and extremely detailed set pieces, that included a funhouse at carnival, but the story structure was as tame as riding a ferris wheel.

It Chapter Two (2019)
IMDB/It Chapter Two

The storytelling in a long film is extremely important, especially if the characters are going to split up on their own personal journey, then it’s important that you write a story for each character that doesn’t feel like a copy and paste of the other characters. It Chapter Two doesn’t do enough to differentiate between the events in its second act, which at times makes it a disappointment when compared to It Chapter One.

Jessica Chastain in It Chapter Two (2019)
IMDB/It Chapter Two

Unfortunately, Chapter Two does fall victim to trying to out horror itself by crowbarring in too many jump cuts and jump scares, which lose their effectiveness as the movie progresses. The movie never settles on what it’s trying to do, so it feels unorganized and the pacing isn’t consistent. Even if it’s based on a 1400 page book, the film does not do enough to make its runtime justified.

The Bills Paid Their Dues

Bill Hader and Bill Skarsgård are by far the two standouts of Chapter Two. Skarsgård picks up right where he left off from the previous movie. A menacing character such as Pennywise, has to express a lot of emotions via facial expression. Skarsgård has an expressive face and can convey various emotions just by his eyes. He’s given more time to display his antics in this movie than part one.

Bill Skarsgård in It Chapter Two (2019)
IMDB/It Chapter Two

What makes Pennywise such an engaging character is that he knows when to be unassuming to lure his prey and when to flip the script and become the killer clown that he truly is. As a supernatural being, he has had some gruesome transformations throughout the film. As a clown, he has many hilarious moments in the movie. The only character who is funnier than ol’ Pennywise is Richie Tozier.

IMDB/It Chapter Two

The wise-cracking Richie Toliver was a highlight in It. Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame portrayed the teenage version of the character. He was the smartmouth of the group and his character has developed a lot in the nearly three decades after the events of the first film. As an adult, Richie Toliver is played by comedic actor Bill Hader. His performance was a breakthrough amongst the now adult Losers Club members.

IMDB/It Chapter Two

Hader’s comedic timing shines through the darkness and he knows when to insert jokes at the right times. Personality wise, Hader was the closest to his child actor from Chapter One. Richie’s relationship with Eddie rivals other comedic duos such as Cheech and Chong or Beavis and Butthead. The back and forths between the pair picked right back up where they left off in the first film.

Bill Hader in It Chapter Two (2019)
IMDB/It Chapter Two

It’s not all jokes though. When Hader needed to bring the drama, he knocked it out of the park. Cannot rule out the possibility of Hader getting a nomination for Best Supporting Actor during the awards season.

Final Thoughts

With a runtime that is too long, It Chapter Two does have some solid performances and completes the best duology of one of Stephen King’s most well-known novels. If New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers were smart then they would make a prequel with Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. The dancing clown has been around for hundreds of years and there is an opportunity to watch him terrorize the citizens of Derry from centuries ago. As a supernatural horror, Chapter Two has some memorable set pieces and creative effects, but could’ve used some better writing in its screenplay. Director Andy Muschietti knows his way behind the camera, but overall this one didn’t live up to his predecessor. There are great performances by its lead actress and actors, that will make you wish the writing matched their performances. This story started with Georgie being pulled into the sewer after chasing a boat, and ended with a story that capsizes in comparison to its beginnings.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

It Chapter Two was released in theaters September 6, 2019. 

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Shazam (2019) |Movie Review|

Some heroes are zapped and modified – SHAZAM –  that may have been a reach, but this was a Christmas movie that I didn’t know we needed. Originally named Captain Marvel, Shazam has had a long history in Americana culture, he was the first live-action superhero movie, but 1941 was a long time ago and his popularity has dwindled in the nearly 80 years since. Shazam stars Zachary Levine, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer and Mark Strong, and the David F. Sandberg directed film is based on the DC hero of the same name. The film is the seventh installment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU)  and follows Billy Batson (Asher Angel),  a foster teen who is granted the power to reach his fullest potential known as Shazam (Zachary Levi). Spoilers after the trailer.

 

Magic Is Down To A Science

Going into this film, I did not know much about Shazam outside of him being the original Captain Marvel, but as far as his character and history, like its Marvel counterpart, this film serves as a proper cinematic introduction to him. The various trailers for this movie did a great job at selling its humor and creating an interesting world, which is something that the DCEU has been struggling with in most of their films, so far.

Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)
Freedy Freeman and Billy Batson

I can without any hesitation say that Shazam is by far the best film in the DCEU so far. What makes this movie fun to watch is the chemistry between Shazam and Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Freddy Freeman and Billy Batson (Asher Angel). Both of these pairings are important to the plot of the film and if they do not work well then the film won’t work well. Opposites attract, Freddy Freeman is a nerd and a smart-ass and his personality compliments Billy Batson’s serious and headstrong attitude throughout the film.

Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)
Billy Batson as Shazam and Freddy Freeman

Batson is summoned to the Rock of Eternity, where the ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) bestows his power on the young Billy Batson, and that’s when the film’s comedic aspect elevates. Billy Batson transforms into the best possible version of himself, a champion named Shazam (Zachary Levi) – an acronym of the Gods that his powers come from: the Wisdom of Solomon, Strength of Hercules, Stamina of Atlas, Powers of Zeus, Courage of Achilles, and the Speed of Mercury – and Billy has to turn to his nerdy friend Freddy on what to do with these new powers. This makes Freddy his de facto sidekick and hijinks ensue.

Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)
Shazam and Freddy Freeman at the store

Since Billy appears as an adult when he summons the powers of Shazam, he and Freddy take advantage of this and buy beer, go to the strip club, and excuse themselves from school, y’know typical juvenile things. Another fun thing about this movie is that it’s aware of superhero film tropes and adds its own stroke of lightning to them. When the pair go to a store that is being robbed they make light of the situation and use it as a way to test Shazam’s power. There’s a mugging scene that is used to add to the laughs and the light-hearted nature of the film. By saying “Shazam” Batson transforms and there is an abundance of jokes about what Batson should call himself. Zachary Levine does a phenomenal job at capturing the mindset and attitude of a teenager and he comes off as an extension of Asher Angel’s Billy Batson.

 

Questionable Motives

A superhero film is only as good as its villain, and the big bad guy in Shazam is Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), a successful physicist who was summoned by the ancient wizard to be the next Shazam, but was not chosen, so he spent the rest of his life searching for the Rock of Eternity to confront the wizard. Shazam introduces us to Dr. Sivana when he was a kid and he’s being extremely annoying to his brother and father while they’re on a snowy road to somewhere and that’s when the ancient wizard summons him. The wizard gives him a test to see if his heart is pure and Dr. Sivana fails because he cannot resist the powers of dark magic and he gets transported back to the backseat of his father’s car. He continues to be annoying and causes a car wreck that leaves his father paralyzed.

Mark Strong in Shazam! (2019)
Dr. Silvana 

All of this happens to give the audience backstory to why Dr. Sivana ends up killing his father and brother approximately 30 years in the future after gaining power from the Eyes of Sins, an evil version of Shazam’s powers. It’s an underwhelming backstory for this character because Dr. Sivana was a scrawny, frail looking kid, turned into a successful adult, his family had everything, he was the one that caused most of his problems that he had, yet his big gripe is that the wizard told him he wasn’t special, and you should never tell a kid that he’s not special. This bares repeating, Dr. Sivana caused the car wreck that left his father paralyzed, the same father he later killed in the film.

Mark Strong and Zachary Levi in Shazam! (2019)
Dri Silvana and Shazam

Outside of his complete lack of accountability, Dr. Silvana’s dark and serious nature is a solid choice of antithesis for Shazam’s kid-like personality.  There’s a fun mall chase scene between the two that provides some good site gags and laughs. The writers use his confrontations with Shazam to call out a few other tropes in superhero films. For a PG-13 film there is a death in this movie caused by Silvana that is really dark for the tone of the film, no complaints about that. As always, Mark Strong makes the most out of any role he is given and I don’t think a lesser actor would be able to pull off this character. Strong has a deadpan way of delivering his lines that is intimidating yet funny, which is why his role fits cohesively.

A Family Affair

A major theme in this film is the idea of what is a family? Billy Batson lives with five other foster kids, Thaddeus Sivana has an estranged relationship with his family, and the Ancient Wizard is the last living protector of the Rock of Eternity since his siblings have died. Billy’s siblings and foster parents are all character tropes for the most part. Unlike most tropes in film, Shazam makes it work for the most part, with only one sibling getting left out of the film. This is the kindest foster family that’s ever hit the silver screen, they all support each other, the parents are always putting the kids interest first and it makes wonder why Billy keeps running away from them. There is a heartbreaking scene when Billy reunites with his mom and things don’t go as planned.

Grace Fulton, Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans, Jovan Armand, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Ian Chen in Shazam! (2019)
Shazam: A Family Affair

The one foster kid that doesn’t get much screen time might as well be a background character. If there wasn’t a fun twist at the end of the movie then I think he would’ve been. His character just spends most of the movie lifting weights and there is a moment where he implies that he’s gay. The actors and actresses that portrayed the kids did a marvelous job and I hope they return in a sequel. This family came across like one big loving family, ala the Brady Bunch, and when that big twist happens that’s when Shazam solidifies itself as a Christmas movie.

Final Thoughts

By no means is it a perfect film but Shazam gets more things correct than it gets wrong. It’s ironic that the comic that was sued by DC Comics for copying Superman (holy ending scene Batman) has created a far more enjoyable theatrical experience than the Man of Steel has in three decades. This one is definitely worth viewing in theaters. Shazam is a fun film and a huge transition from most of the DCEU. Just like the lightning bolt on the hero’s chest, this film shines bright. It was an electric jumpstart to a cinematic universe that was on life support.  The cast and crew were obviously passionate about this movie and as a viewer you can always tell when the people behind the scenes care about what they are creating, and it just goes to show how adding zeal attains magnificentness – SHAZAM!

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Shazam was released in theaters April 5, 2019.