Friend 2 Pudding’s review published on Letterboxd:
So the idea with splitting IT into two parts is that you unspool the book's flashback-heavy, amnesia-driven interlinked narrative, and from there you're able to clarify the story and tackle each each timeline in a linear fashion.
That fundamentally isn’t the novel, but it filmic terms I can see how it could seem a good idea, and IT 1 did it really well. Strangely though - and I really do mean strange - they absolutely bottled it. This isn't a chapter 2 so much as it is a complete do-over of the adaption entire. If u slapped that scene of Georgie getting eaten on at the start then this film - coming in at almost 3 hours - is a near enough complete account of the book.
It hit me that this was what was happening as soon as I realised the amnesia stuff (which in the book is a framing device - which the linear approach of IT Chapter 1 rendered redundant) was being kept in the foreground. Their memory loss is a framing device, in the book, to cover the stuff we saw already sans frame in Pt 1. So what they do here is just have them remember stuff no one mentioned last time.
Basically, as a response to part 1 this is very, very poor and renders the earlier film totally redundant. It literally still flits from past til present, just the kids had other encounters with Pennywise - basically the same as their last ones only in different settings - that just didn't get mentioned before.
I think the structure here drags taken as a film that stands alone, and as a follow-up to a pretty tight, contained movie is outright baffling. To some degree as well, there's stuff here that just isn't my taste. It's the sort of horror film that undercuts everything with a joke - some in keeping with the characters, others in my view not. You literally cannot even (mild spoiler) get stabbed in the face without making a joke about someone's hair. Getting stabbed in the face is very dramatic and horrifying! When things are firing as they're supposed to you'd probably try and do something with that. It also seems like a bit of a missed opportunity that the tone and aesthetic is so similar to the first film's take on their childhood. I think a less playful, more straightforward and intense approach would've worked better. There's no sense of a change in register between the two timeframes. That's not brilliant.
On the plus side, they nail the casting, Bill's a great Pennywise. They don't really get weird with it, the hot-mess metaphysics of the novel get boiled down into something straight-forwardly self-helpy that's also been done a million times. There's a repeated gag in this about King's endings being shit, and some meta-commentary on the need to revise it in the process of adaption to make it work - so it sucks that the ending isn't as strong as the book, or as interesting. Though I'm very much in the camp that they were right to drop the pre-teen gang bang.
On a very petty level too, they really should've snuck in the pilgrim scene from the old Fukanaga draft. Unfortunately I really, really think they've blown this.
edit: hours after writing this my opinion is softening a bit so read into that what you will. it's messy but ok, bill s really is great.