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Blu-ray Review – It: Chapter Two

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Out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital, horror epic It: Chapter Two is directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) and sees him return to child-murdering clown haven Derry alongside the young cast from his first film: Jaeden Martell (The Book of Henry), Sophia Lillis (Sharp Objects), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!), Jeremy Ray Taylor (42) and Chosen Jacobs (Castle Rock).

But this time, their characters are also played in their adult versions by James McAvoy (Glass), Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak), Bill Hader (Barry), James Ransone (Sinister), Jay Ryan (Neighbours) and Isaiah Mustafa (Horrible Bosses).

Twenty-seven years after childhood misfits gang “The Losers” defeated a clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård – Deadpool 2) who was terrorising and murdering kids, including Bill’s (McAvoy) little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott – The Prodigy), children are disappearing and turning up in pieces again in the town of Derry.

Cashing in their childhood vow to return and fight again if Pennywise were ever to return, Mike (Mustafa) summons Bill (McAvoy), Bev (Chastain), Ben (Ryan), Ritchie (Hader) and Eddie (Ransone) to come home and face their demons to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

The kid “Losers” are still as great as ever and are seen in flashbacks to the summer in the first film that expands on and fills in previously unseen events and scares. Their friendship still feels brilliantly genuine and because of the attachment to them from the first film, we now worry twice as much for them when they are in peril.

The adult “Losers” group dynamic is excellent too with Hader’s Ritchie and Ransone’s Eddie being the unexpectedly hilarious (even in the face of doom) standouts, but Ryan’s now buff-but-still-sweet Ben, Chastain’s pained emotional core Bev, Mustafa’s collective memory and conscience Mike and McAvoy’s haunted and heroic Bill all being instantly loveable.

The gang split up for a large portion of the film to retrieve individual totemic items from their childhoods that will help them to fight Pennywise, which is a shame but does allow for everyone to shine in their individual stories (that also function as chilling horror set-pieces). Plus, woven into these we also get glimpses into the birth and evolution of “that fucking clown” Pennywise (Skarsgard).

Much of Pennywise’s attacks this time around are him in other larger non-human forms, so these scenes give Skarsgard back his screentime to show how spine-chilling he can be with just that broken creepy voice, wandering lazy eye and stream of drool at the thought of devouring our heroes’ delicious fear.

The film is very long but it flies by, packing in as much of Stephen King’s story as possible and even featuring a cameo from the godlike horror genius himself, but although we do see them briefly, Bill’s wife Audra (Jess Weixler – Teeth) and Bev’s husband Alvin (Stephen Bogaert – American Psycho) never get as far as Derry like they do in the TV miniseries.

The film’s final showdown is not as strong as it could be, feeling a little silly and samey and not as scary as you would hope, but It: Chapter Two is blockbuster horror with huge jumps, awesome set pieces, heroes you’ll fall in love with all over again and the return of Skarsgard’s terrifying iconic villain.

The Blu-Ray is a two-disc set with the film and commentary on disc one and all other special features on disc two.

The movie features Dolby Atmos and 5.1 and the 5.1 audio tracks, as well as an audio descriptive for the visually impaired and hard-of-hearing subs. The 5.1 is a great mix, accentuating scares and adding extra creeps with some chilling surround activity to prickle the hairs on the back of your neck. The video encode is perfect: sharp and colourful with no visible artefacts.

The commentary is director Andy Muschietti on his lonesome, but he provides a super interesting talk track where he talks about his process, ideas, motives and approach to directing his huge cast. He also provides loads of little trivia bits and sheds light on plenty of easter eggs you may have missed.

The bonus disc is chock full of good shiz. There’s a pair of just over half-an-hour-long Making Of’s for this film and the first one that are more than just studio-mandated everyone loved working with everyone fluff. Obviously, they, of course, do say that too, but they are also sweetly insightful and feel weightier than these sort of extras usually do.

Pennywise Lives Again is a ten-minute focus on Skarsgard and his portrayal of the big bad, This Meeting of The Loser’s Club Has Officially Begun is eight and a bit minutes on The Losers and their casting. It’s really fun hearing how the kids were all pretend casting their older versions from the beginning – Finn actually getting Bill Hader cast via his Instagram!

Lastly, Finding the Deadlights is a too-short six-minute piece that is Stephen King spilling his beans on the conception and writing of the original novel. For King fans, it is chocolate flavour crack and I loved it.

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It: Chapter Two is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital now.

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