By Joseph Ha
And the Oscar for the Most Memorable Cinematic Cameo goes to Stephen King, the creator behind the “It” mythos. Appearing as a pawn shop owner in “It: Chapter Two,” King remarks to world famous writer Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) during their humorous exchange that he didn’t like the endings in Denbrough’s book. It’s irrelevant to me whether or not this gag is supposed to be a reference to a criticism of King’s own works. The joke’s real meta nature stems from how it neatly summarizes my thoughts on the film.
Sure, the ending follows the basic bulk like the novel: The Losers Club defeats the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) and they all live happily ever after. However, so many minor details in the ending deviate from the source material, to the point where it’s as if the screenwriters first wrote it — the ending, not the creature — as an alternate universe on fanfiction websites. An adaptation’s faithfulness to a source material shouldn’t matter completely, since the changes made could add onto the story and make it richer. Unfortunately, this is not what happens with the alterations in “It Chapter Two,” which fall into the category of being either unnecessary or clichéd, and overall feel like they were thoughtlessly added at the last minute.
There are too many to list and explain here, but the most disappointing change for me was not seeing Denbrough with his wife in the end. Whereas the original novel and the 1990 mini-series displayed a visual, tender ending symbolizing Denbrough moving on with life with his spouse, the ending for “It Chapter Two” instead had Stan Uris (Andy Bean) voicing a letter he sent to his fellow Losers explaining the motivations behind his suicide and urging them to live life to the fullest. Not only is it tiresome to hear a character orally implore others to live life to the fullest, it is disturbing to hear a character explaining why his suicide was beneficial.
Despite the ending’s flaws, “It Chapter Two” itself as a film was not unlikeable. Sure, more could’ve been done, but the story arc and motifs made the film worthy to lose the subtitle of “Chapter Two.” Forget the film released in 2017; “It” was only an unnecessary origin story that could’ve been incorporated into “It: Chapter Two.”
For those complaining about runtime, the 1990 “It” mini-series ran at 3 hours and 12 minutes and it terrified an entire generation rather than boring them. Any cinematic adaptation of “It” should be one story. The Losers’ childhood and adulthood should both be impacted by the trauma they felt from their own problems and Pennywise’s hauntings. In fact, the switch between the Losers’ 2017 present and their 1988 past is one of the film’s greatest strengths. Who cares if the audience doesn’t know the entire life story behind every character?
The recollection of memories, both traumatic and pleasant, is both a major theme and a plot device in “It.” After leaving Derry, the Losers forgot about their time in their haunted hometown, but once they return, they experience a flood of memories. While journeying to collect childhood artifacts, each Loser encounters terrifying reminders of their past. Why not only give the audience bits and pieces of the Losers’ past and force them to dig through the clues like the Losers themselves? Had “It Chapter Two” focused on this, it would’ve been far superior to the 1990 mini-series. Unfortunately, movie goers these days are only focused on films giving them the answers, rather than using their own intellect to assemble the puzzle.