Updated: Jan 11
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
27 years after the first attacks in Derry, Maine, Pennywise the scariest of scary clowns returns and takes aim at a young boy at the hall of mirrors inside a carnival Funhouse. Adult Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) tries to stop the killing.
“IT: CHAPTER TWO”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy; 2019; R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material; Streaming via Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “The Summers of IT, Chapters One and Two” making-of documentaries
LIKE A bad penny, IT has turned up again. Pennywise, that is, the scariest of scary clowns — and he’s back to gobbling up children, among others, at carnivals, and in sewers. But this time, the slobbering circus ghoul is interested in the group of grown-ups who’d been childhood members of the Derry, Maine “Losers’ Club” in 1989.
Based on Stephen King’s weighty (1,200+ pages) tome, this cinematic sequel to the 2017 “Chapter One” (which only covered the events up to about page 200), delivers a lot of the same feelings of dread — and perhaps a bit more gross-out gore — than its predecessor, but manages to tie both stories up with a big satisfying bow.
Called together by Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only Losers’ Club member to remain in Derry, most of the group returns to the scene of what they thought had been their triumph over evil 27 years ago. With the same Brazilian director (Andy Muschietti), producers and crew as “Chapter One”; the return of Bill Skarsgård (one of several talented actors from that Swedish family) as Pennywise; and clips from 1989 seamlessly interspersed with the present-day story, it’s possible to see “Chapter Two” as a standalone and not miss much of its history.
(1) Pennywise retrieves a young gay man from the river after he was attacked and thrown into the waters from a bridge. (2-4) The members of the Losers’ Club meet at a local Chinese restaurant and after the dinner, the fortune cookies turn into a cryptic phrase: "Guess Stanley Could Not Cut It." The remaining cookies begin opening, revealing disturbing mini-monsters including a spider with a baby's head. (5) Bill Skarsgård returns as the alarming Pennywise.
The adult Losers’ Club consists of Bill (James McAvoy), still haunted with guilt over the loss of his little brother to IT; Richie (Bill Hader); Eddie (James Ransome); Ben (Jay Ryan); Stanley (Andy Bean); and Beverly (Jessica Chastain). A couple of fun cameos come from Peter Bogdanovich, playing a movie director; and Stephen King himself, as a grouchy junk shop owner. “IT: Chapter Two” delivers plenty of shocks, some very clever horror effects, and a lot of just plain scary fun, whether you’re a die-hard King fan — or not.
This Warner Brothers Home Entertainment package comes with three discs: 4K, Blu-ray and a bonus disc filled with juicy extras. The 4K looks terrific even though it’s sourced from 2.8K and 3.4K digital cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio) and mastered in 2K and then upconverted to 4K. The color palette is deeply saturated – especially reds and greens, with velvety blacks, and plenty of fine, creepy detail from the expansive highlights and shadows outfitted with HDR10 and more controlled HDR10+ and Dolby Vision toning. Only with super wide-shots do you notice the lesser resolution from the 2K master, while the 4K gives an overall darker more eerie experience.
The 4K and Blu-ray both feature the excellent eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack with its added overhead dimension, to make viewers feel surrounded by the ambient and often spooky noises. Dialogue is clear, and the score provides a perfect counterpoint to the story.
(1) The adult "Losers" head toward their old underground clubhouse. (2) The young Losers wore shower caps to keep the spiders out of their hair at the hangout. (3) Young Beverly (Sophia Lillis) with her abusive father. (4) Adult Beverly (Jessica Chastain) visits her old apartment and discovers some of the artifacts she placed behind the baseboard hiding a hole in the wall. She found her key, cigarettes, and a postcard with this note. "Your hair is winter fire... January embers... My heart burns there, too." (5) Pennywise, out of costume.
The trove of extras includes a commentary by Muschietti featured on the 4K disc; three short behind-the-scenes featurettes (“The Meeting of the Losers’ Club Has Officially Begun”; “Pennywise Lives Again!”; “Finding the Deadlights”); and the two-part “Summers of IT — “You’ll Float Too,” and “IT Ends.” In the “Chapter One” documentary, Muschietti notes, “The time in your life when you’re most imprinted is when you’re six or seven, and watching a horror movie,” and experience a feeling “you’re always seeking again.” He describes “Chapter One” as “a love letter to childhood,” exploring the “power of imagination and belief you lose when you grow up.” Muschietti’s sister Barbara, one of the producers, recalls reading it during her adolescence in Buenos Aires: “It blew my mind … to read about characters close to my age… fighting bigotry, sexism, and anti-Semitism.”
Excerpts of auditions for the parts of the children, and Pennywise, are included. More than 160 actors tried out for the part of the evil clown but, says Muschietti, “Bill brought a strange energy… because he’s very childlike… but also a darkness that is very unsettling.” Skarsgård claims, “I couldn’t physically become him until I got the makeup on.” Muschietti talks about Stephen King’s hometown of Bangor, Maine, on which Derry is based. Shooting in Maine wasn’t financially feasible, so they recreated the town in Port Hope, Ontario.
In the “Chapter Two” documentary, Chastain comments on the first film which, she says, “is about learning how to be an adult, while the second is about adults learning how to be children again.” King, who was very happy with the first film, credits Muschietti with understanding that “you have to care about the people in the movie,” especially in an “old-fashioned movie experience where you root for the good guys.”
To help the actors prepare for the roles, Muschietti had their younger counterparts write letters, in character, to their “older selves.” Skarsgård, who initially worried about revisiting his Pennywise role, says that he “instantly rediscovered” the character — as though it were always there. King jokes about his cameo: “I’m now, in my mind, writing my Oscar acceptance speech!”
— Peggy Earle
(1) Young Richie (Finn Wolfhard) escapes a nightmarish version of the Paul Bunyan landmark. (2) Adult Richie (Bill Hader) sees the statue and remembers. (3) Young Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) frantically calls for his little brother, taken by Pennywise into the sewer. (4) Adult Bill (James McAvoy) is still searching.
(1) Young Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) sees a vision of Young Beverly on fire. (2) Adult Ben (Jay Ryan) and Beverly. (3) Eddie (James Ransome) attacked by a monster. (4) Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) fends off knife crazed Henry Bowers.
(1) The spirit of Pennywise writes "Home at Last" with a knife onto Ben's stomach. (2) The dismembered head of young Stanley becomes a freakish six-legged creature. (3) Pennywise disguises himself at Mrs. Kersh and attacks Beverly inside the sewer. (4) The gang takes part in the Ritual of Chüd, which involved burning artifacts they gathered from their old memories.