[Fresh on 4K] ‘IT CHAPTER TWO’ both pleases and disappoints

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

IT CHAPTER TWO

Rated R, 169 minutes.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Jessica ChastainJames McAvoyBill HaderIsaiah MustafaJay RyanJames RansoneAndy BeanBill SkarsgårdJaeden MartellWyatt OleffJack Dylan GrazerFinn WolfhardSophia LillisChosen Jacobs and Jeremy Ray Taylor

Now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital HD.

When we reviewed IT CHAPTER TWO in theaters earlier this year, we gave it a favorable review, praising the actor’s performances and atmospheric cinematography, while voicing some minor complaints regarding some inconsistent pacing. Now that the film is available on the home video market, viewers can once again return to Derry to face their fears from the comfort of their own living room.

Movie Grade: B

From our theatrical review:

“It’s been 27 years since seven teen outcasts, nicknamed ‘The Losers’ Club,’ defeated a monster that feasts on the flesh and fears of children. Or so they thought. Now adults, they’ve each been grappling with residual trauma caused by the abuse suffered in their teen years.

Bill (James McAvoy) is a horror author working out his issues in between the pages of his best-selling, botched-ending novels (which seems like a self-referential jab at criticisms of IT author Stephen King). Bev (Jessica Chastain) is trapped in an abusive marriage, looking for an escape. Ben’s (Jay Ryan) need for control of chaos led him to change his inner psyche and outer appearance, morphing into a hunky architect. (Beep Beep) Ritchie (Bill Hader, who does most of the third act’s heavy lifting) found his identity as a stand-up comedian, using humor as a coping mechanism. Eddie (James Ransone) channeled his hypochondria into a career in risk management and funneled his angst into a marriage with a woman just like his mother. Stan (Andy Bean) has gone into complete denial about the experience, paving over his pain with a fractured foundation of bravery. And Mike’s (Isaiah Mustafa) inability to move on has kept him held prisoner in Derry, attempting to solve the mystery of the vengeful, demonic shape-shifter’s origins.

Muschietti, along with cinematographer Checco Varese, editor Jason Ballantine and production designer Paul D. Austerberry, delve deeper into the aesthetics of the Losers’ altered worlds. There’s a palpable, saturated richness that wasn’t there before to indicate how they’ve positively progressed from puberty. A fluid, visually poetic swagger re-establishes the characters, utilizing graceful transitions: The sky turns into the bottom of a puzzle piece; blood droplets fall on a character sleeping below. Plus, visual interpretations of misery’s suffocating psychosis work effectively, like when Bill fights being dragged down into a sewer by disembodied hands, or when young and old Eddie’s fears are tied together with the matching sync on their eyes, or when Bev fights a rising tide of blood and a cadre of bullies (replete with reference to THE SHINING).

A carnival of creeps with searing statements on grief’s machinations and haunting memories, it’s sure to make even the most cynical horror fan float out of the theater.”

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Video/Audio Grade: B+

IT CHAPTER 2 arrives on 4K UHD utilizing a minor upscaling conversion from a 3.4K Digital Intermediate. For the most part, we are left with an exceptional transfer that is a definite improvement over the 1080p Blu-ray. Finer details like cracking face paint on Pennywise’s gigantic forehead and grimy buildup along sewer walls are strikingly visible in addition to standard improvements with aspects such as skin tones and clothing patterns. Unfortunately, the major complaint audiences had with this film in theaters is even more apparent in the format. As is to be expected with talented young actors, these kids have aged significantly since their time on the first installment and had to undergo a “de-aging” process with the help of computer-generated effects. Sadly these effects do not look very convincing, and the enhanced resolution only makes things worse.

However, the inclusion of HDR10+ and Dolby Vision more than makeup for some issues with a digital fountain of youth. The expanded color pallet truly shines in the sequence beneath the baseball bleachers, where Pennywise lures his victims into the shadows. His pasty white makeup never feels overblown but contrasts wonderfully with the darker tones in which he surrounds himself. Lastly, what good would more vibrant colors be if the copious amounts of blood on display didn’t look utterly fantastic?

On the audio front, the disc comes packed with a phenomenal Dolby Atmos track, in addition to a DTS-HD 7.1 and DTS-HD 5.1 track to take advantage of a wide variety of home theater arrangements. The Atmos track is by far and away, the way to go if you happen to have a system that supports it. However, even the 5.1 mix is wonderfully on point. Lots of fun is had with the rear channels in the opening sequence as the eerie, albeit cliche sound of children’s laughter and singing, plays in the distance, perfectly setting the tone.

Extras Grade: C+

Aside from the director’s commentary track, no additional features are included on the 4K disc. Two standard Blu-ray discs come packaged alongside the 4K disc: one containing only the film in 1080p as well as the aforementioned commentary track, and the second containing the five features listed below. These features are perfectly fine for a single viewing but are pretty standard when it comes to supplemental material. Personally, I would have preferred a feature breaking down similarities as well as differences to the source material, but ultimately it is what it is.

  • The Summers of IT – Chapter One: You’ll Float, Too (1080p; 35:38)
  • The Summers of IT – Chapter Two: IT Ends (1080p; 39:30)
  • Pennywise Lives Again (1080p; 9:55)
  • This Meeting of The Losers’ Club Has Officially Begun (1080p; 8:12)
  • Finding the Deadlights (1080p; 6:18)

Final Grade: B

IT CHAPTER 2 is both a problematic sequel as well as a satisfying conclusion to a truly fascinating story. While its scares are a bit repetitive and its length unquestionably overstays its welcome, this 4K presentation is certainly not the stuff of nightmares.

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