Sequels? Oh boy.
Before this writer spews about the lackadaisical effort that goes into making these, let us consider a reality. The movie industry has become highly susceptible in the last few decades in becoming strewn with follow-up after follow-up thanks to the remarkable success of an original film. If one were to argue that a sequel was better than the predecessor, they would most likely face scrutiny for their statements. Today, we will evaluate why one of 2019’s most anticipated films became a proof check that sequels are plain redundant.
It Chapter Two had a pull to it after the phenomenal success of the first It film back in 2017. The predecessor grossed over 700 million worldwide and contained some captivating performances and memorable scares. The teaser trailer for the sequel (linked here) was disturbingly effective and allowed us to continue to delve into a story with characters audiences tremendously enjoyed in the first outing. The kids who once overcame their fear of Mr. Pennywise find themselves twenty-seven years later returning to the original setting to end his reign of terror once and for all finally. Upon watching, it left a bad taste in not only this writer’s mouth but in others’ as well.
Why? The film has all the original elements, including the frightening clown, enjoyable chemistry between the actors, and familiar themes. That sentiment usually occurs with many other sequels, as they repeat the same feelings to the audience. Human nature has taught us that one feels the pure sensation for the first time since it was wholly original, but the second time feels like a been-there/done-that. It is a commonality that stretches across film-making and, upon execution, continues to damage certain films or franchises’ reputation. Look at Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Exorcist 2: The Heretic, Matrix Reloaded (and Revolutions), Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and many more for reference.
It Chapter Two has the commonalities of its predecessor, but with a bonus of being nearly three hours long and infused with one too many scares to the point, it becomes a water-downed slog of a film. A gradual pace can work at times, but with this work, it became borderline boring. Add in its absurd third act, and one had to wonder how this got past pre-production. It demonstrates how a follow-up can damage work on one film, if not multiple.
Now, that is not to say all sequels are inferior to their predecessors. Some sequels were incredible such as The Godfather Part 2, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Toy Story 2, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Those maintained the fluidity of their respective franchises but turned it up a notch with some thoughtful, creative touches. They expanded in a fresher direction and did not revert to the same formula as their predecessors.
Unfortunately, most sequels nowadays fall into this habit of “great performance with the first one; let’s make another one since audiences will definitely show up for that.” It is a lazy mindset, and without any real consideration, any sequel will continue to flop. Most of the time, they serve as cash-grabbers. That may work until audiences start realizing how lethargic the filmmaking has become (the second time around), and they will not re-watch it again. It Chapter Two grossed over 225 million less than its predecessor, most likely because of its long runtime and weaker effectiveness as a horror film. It is true when they say bigger does not mean better.
There is a common frustration with sequels as they toy with this idea that people want to see the same thing once again. However, that is not always the case. Reboots, remakes, reimagined adaptations all go to bust majority of the time. It is like riding a roller-coaster. The first time was excellent, then the second (and third and so on) time was “fine” or “okay.” The key is keeping it fresh. Too much of the same procures a stale feeling, and by the time a franchise wraps up, no one will care. Just ask the Terminator franchise since they’ve lost interest due to repetitive storylines and overreliance on nostalgia (found here).
In summary, It Chapter Two certifies that sequels are mostly mundane concerning their predecessors. A film smothered with hype, and some compelling marketing turned into a near snooze fest. The same philosophy can apply to many other sequels now or in the future. Until Hollywood alters their direction with these continuations, they will continue to permeate the lineage of filmmaking with feelings of recklessness and apathy.