“IT: Chapter Two” is an entertaining, candy-colored, spook-tastic carnival ride through the mean streets of Derry, replete with freakish creatures bursting out of fortune cookies, evil old ladies and, yes, everybody’s favorite clown.
It’s not, however, a great movie. Not that it needs to be — it’s got enough monsters and beautifully rendered set pieces to distract from the fact that it’s too long, lacking in character development, and, aside from a few good jumps and one genuinely disturbing scene, not actually that scary.
The good stuff is, as it was with the first chapter of the two-part “IT” adaptation, all the imaginatively rendered elements, all of which are mostly faithful to the book. There’s the excellent scene in the Chinese restaurant (“Jade of the Orient,” based on Bangor’s real-life Oriental Jade), the chase through the carnival fun house, the visit with Mrs. Kersh and, of course, Richie’s memorable interaction with a certain iconic Derry statue — all scenes that are visually stunning and fun to watch.
Among the Loser’s Club, James McAvoy admirably takes the lead as Bill Denbrough, adopting a frightened stutter as soon as he returns to his hometown. James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak maintains the nervous energy of his teenage counterpart in the first movie. But the real stars of the show are Bill Skarsgard, as menacing and freaky as he was the first time he played Pennywise, and Bill Hader, who is the kind of actor that makes everything he’s in better, while also giving it heart and, of course, humor. He’s perfect as Richie Tozier.