Movie review: It Chapter Two
When it comes to ambition, this almost three-hour sequel is not clowning around.
It (2017) rightfully deserves to enjoy the spoils of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film, and the companion piece - helmed by returning director Andy Muschietti - will no doubt draw even more blood at the box office.
It Chapter Two almost exactly mirrors the structure of the first movie, which at points can feel like a plod down memory lane.
The child actors portraying the seven-member Losers Club were so engaging that you were heavily invested. Fortunately, the adult stars mostly do their predecessors - who appear in substantial flashbacks - justice.
It also delivers more horror, more humour and more heart.
Expect quite a few jolts and gory kills involving both adults and young children.
Pennywise manifests himself in even more horrific incarnations whenever the group experiences both joint and individual encounters, from a nightmarish assortment of nasties in a Chinese restaurant to gruesome zombies and a disturbingly monstrous naked old lady.
As expected, Bill Hader and James Ransone - as foul-mouthed, scene-stealing comic relief Richie and Eddie respectively - provide the most laughs that effectively ease the tension, but the duo also get to show off their dramatic chops.
Then there are the emotional beats that can only be explored more intensely and authentically when the characters become adults, still damaged by the past and trapped in their personal hell, as the film lays bare the darkness of childhood psychological trauma.
The unrequited love Ben (Jay Ryan) harbours for Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Bill's (James McAvoy) lingering guilt over his brother's death and Stanley's (Andy Bean) debilitating anxieties come to mind.
That is not to say It Chapter Two provides perfect closure that will satisfy everyone.
My biggest grievance is how it gives Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) short shrift. Every member of the septet is painstakingly fleshed out, but he remains so woefully underwritten in comparison that we are left with the same cipher we first saw in young Chosen Jacobs' portrayal. Perhaps the mystery of Mike will be solved in the director's cut, which is said to be four hours long.
FILM: It Chapter Two
STARRING: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, Bill Skarsgard
DIRECTOR: Andy Muschietti
THE SKINNY: Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club defeated Pennywise (Skarsgard), he returns to terrorise the town of Derry. Now adults, the group reunites and must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the killer clown once and for all.
Movie reviews: The Angry Birds Movie 2, The Bravest
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2 (PG)
This ditzy yet amusing sequel to 2016's The Angry Birds Movie is an animated action adventure that will appeal to both kids and grown-ups.
It revolves around the flightless birds and green pigs scheming to infiltrate an island to fight a common threat and return to their respective paradises intact.
The movie is silly and the humour hardly elegant, but it manages to draw laughs anyway. The plot is unquestionably simple, yet there are parts that are wildly imaginative and enjoyable. Moviegoers will likely be won over once more by returning cute characters such as Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and the rest of their feathered friends, and the charming array of colours that make the Angry Birds world come alive. - JASMINE LIM - 3 Ticks
THE BRAVEST (PG13)
Not for the faint-hearted, this Chinese action thriller from director Tony Chan is a stirring patriotic tribute to the firefighters who risked their lives in the real-life 2010 oil pipe explosion in China's north-eastern port city of Dalian.
The plot starts to heat up only midway, when an oil pipeline in a harbour erupts and blows up a nearby oil tank. This causes unrelenting explosions that endanger the lives of the city's million occupants and even neighbouring countries.
The Bravest's jaw-dropping CGI is its true highlight.
In the enthralling stand-off between the firefighters and the inferno, the latter is depicted almost like a living, breathing entity.
But such strengths are at times extinguished by the movie's reliance on stock characters and inconsistent performances among the cast.
Still, the emotional high point comes from the protagonist's (Huang Xiaoming) constant struggle between his love for his family and his dedication to the job. The camaraderie between the firefighters may well make you shed a tear or two. - JASMINE LIM - 3.5 Ticks
Ne Zha (PG)
In this top-grossing animated blockbuster from China, the titular boy born with unique powers must choose between good and evil in order to break the shackles of fate and become a hero.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
If Beale Street Could Talk (M18)
Set in 1970s Harlem, a young couple (KiKi Layne and Stephan James) dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when he is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Exclusively at The Projector.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Plus One (M18)
A pair of single college friends (Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid) act as each other's dates to survive a summer full of weddings - until they realise they have great chemistry with each other.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Dora And The Lost City Of Gold (PG)
Dora (Isabela Moner) leads her high school friends on an adventure to save her parents (Eva Longoria, Michael Pena) and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Playmobil: The Movie (PG)
When her kid brother (Gabriel Bateman) disappears into a colourful animated world, a young woman (Anya Taylor-Joy) is forced to abandon her organised and structured life to rescue him.
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
47 Meters Down: Uncaged (PG13)
This sequel follows the diving adventure of four teenage girls (led by Corinne Foxx and Sistine Stallone) who discover that the sunken ruins they are exploring are a hunting ground for great white sharks.
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Angel Has Fallen (NC16)
When there is an assassination attempt on the US President (Morgan Freeman), his trusted Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) is wrongfully accused and taken into custody.
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%