[SPOILERS BELOW! You have been warned.]
I know it’s faithful to the source material, but Muschietti really shouldn’t have brought back Henry Bowers—and not just because it’s totally implausible that he survived the nasty fall he took in the first film. Shoving that racist prick down a well was one of Mike Hanlon’s few major contributions to the narrative; revealing that his tormentor survived with superficial scrapes and bruises kind of diminishes his moment of triumph. Worse, the adult version of Bowers contributes nothing of value to the plot; after escaping from the mental institution, he ineffectually terrorizes the Losers exactly twice before being dispatched without much difficulty. You could remove every one of his scenes without losing anything important (except maybe that awesome moment in which Eddie stabs him with a knife he pulled out of his own face, but I’d be willing to sacrifice that in order to streamline the running time).
Speaking of the movie’s unnecessarily bloated length: I really didn’t care for Stephen King’s cameo (which the above review should make abundantly obvious). His performance isn’t the problem; he delivers his dialogue competently enough. But he and Muschietti make a meal out of a dang Ritz cracker, dragging the joke out well beyond its expiration date. James McAvoy has pressing matters to attend to, what with the supernatural fear beast stalking the streets of Derry; I don’t need to see the entire process of him haggling over the price of a fucking bicycle.
I don’t want this list to be completely negative, so now I’ll talk about something I actually liked: Ben Hanscom’s reintroduction. Yes, the fact that the pudgy, bumbling sad sack stammering his way through a board meeting is not, in fact, the grown-up version of the character, but rather the cool, confident adonis at the other end of the video call, will come as no surprise to fans of the novel. Despite its predictability, however, I enjoyed the little “twist.” Overall, the “getting the band back together” portion of the story felt somewhat rushed (we’ve barely established the new status quo before the Losers have reunited for one hell of a dinner party), so that clever bit of misdirection was greatly appreciated.
[Originally written September 8, 2019.]