A big criticism of the first film is that Pennywise is so overtly scary it's impossible to believe he could draw any kids in. His encounter with Victoria shows him actively playing on her sympathies of being embarrassed about his looks, which she can relate to with her birthmark.
The miniseries was mocked by many who felt that the adult actors didnt represent their child selves at all. This movie rectified that by getting actors who not only look like their child actor counterparts, but also act like them too.
Beverlys recovery from the Deadlights was not as simple as True Love's Kiss, and she suffered prophetic nightmares for nearly 30 years.
Many found Mike to be underdeveloped compared to the other Losers in Chapter One. Here, he has a much bigger role, leading the others in the Ritual of Chüd and even ripping out IT's heart (unlike in the novel, where he isn't present for the final battle due to being critically injured in his fight with Henry Bowers).
Catharsis Factor: This is the most evil Pennywise has ever been, and unlike the '90 miniseries, there's no big spider (Well, not a whole spider exactly, that is). Like the book, you get to see Pennywise beaten down, terrified, whimpering and all but begging for his life as he's reduced to sheer powerlessness and destroyed for good.
Epileptic Trees: Seeing as both are coming out this year, fans are speculating that this film will have a scene to cross over with or tie into Doctor Sleep. This ultimately turned out to not be the case, though the climax does feature a Shout-Out to the other film's predecessor.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: If you are having problems accepting what happened and you dont feel up to the task to face it head on again, suicide is the best option.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Richie and Eddie, again. It almost happens, too, what with Richie being confirmed as gay in this adaptation.
Harsher in Hindsight: Chapter Two opened just days after a horrific and well-publicized fire on a dive boat that claimed the lives of 34 people trapped aboard - which can make the imagery of the fire that killed Mike's parents and many others especially hard to watch, with its very heavy emphasis on those trapped within screaming and struggling to escape.
He Really Can Act: The actors playing the older Losers Club have been widely praised for recapturing and building upon the already well-received performances of their younger counterparts.
Credit is also due to the performances of James McAvoy and Jay Ryan as Bill and Ben, respectively. While neither particularly looks like their younger actor (although Jay Ryan claims he looked like Jeremy Ray Taylor as a child), both capture their personalities in their own right to the point where the lack of resemblance is hardly noticeable.
Isaiah Mustafa is most known as the Old Spice Guy but manages to bring a suitably grim seriousness to his performance as adult Mike.
James Ransone as Eddie arguably bears the strongest resemblance to his younger counterpart, both in appearance and mannerisms.
Bill Skarsgård once again is absolutely frightening as Pennywise with even more opportunities to show off the clown's inhuman and uncanny nature, now with the added edge of sadistic Tranquil Fury as Pennywise has a specific grudge against the Losers Club this time around.
Sophia Lillis and Jaeden Martell both get to play Pennywise, showing off a whole new range than their roles as the young Beverly and Bill.
In Wreck-It Ralph, the titular character has to fight the villain King Candy in a half cybug form that bears a strong resemblance to It's half-spider, half-Pennywise final form.
In one of the flashbacks, Richie runs away from Pennywise as a giant Paul Bunyan who is going to eat him. As of 2019, director Andy Muschietti is currently attached to Hollywood adaptation of Attack on Titan.
A bloopers video featured Jack Dylan Grazer in 2017 saying he didn't think Eddie and Richie were gay. Technically he might be correct only about the former, but definitely not the latter. Still better than Finn Wolfhard, who described them as "brothers" after the release of Chapter One.
Ho Yay: A number of fans have pointed out that Stan's suicide scene kind of gives the impression that Stan was in love with Bill. The scene focuses entirely on his fond memory of Bill and Bill alone, complete with a flashback to the blood oath from the first movie that takes the form of a slow motion, soft focus shot of Bill bathed in golden light and gazing intensely into Stan's eyes.
As adults, Bill and Mike are very affectionate and touchy-feely with each other.
While Richie, who canonically is an Armored Closet Gay, is going on about how hot Ben is as an adult, there's a shot of Eddie looking rather appreciatively at Ben as well. In the same scene, Eddie can be heard exclaiming, "Let's take off our shirts and kiss!" while arm-wrestling Richie.
The Australian marketing team had the bright idea to put an especially terrifying shot of Pennywise on giant public billboards, to many parents' complaints and children's nightmares.
The month before the films release, IMAX screenings of The Lion King at AMC Theaters had the films trailer attached to it. Given this is a rated-R horror film, putting it before one of the major tentpole family films of summer 2019 wasnt the best idea.
Mrs. Kershs movements and mannerisms are supposed to be unnerving and unnatural, which is pretty effective for the most part...except for one scene where shes watching Bev from a distance as shes reminisce over Bens postcard as a child, and then shes shown flailing her arms around in a manner not too dissimilar to Zoidberg.
While the second trailer is indeed very powerful, there's a moment in the aforementioned Adult Fear and Tear Jerker scene where Pennywise has a long tongue coming out of his mouth. While it is supposed to be scary, it can easily be compared to the dog-filter from Instagram.
When Pennywise appears in Bens locker with him, it couldve made for an effective jumpscare if not for Pennywises face, which is supposed to mock Bens scared face, but instead comes off like its constipated.
When the Losers finally get IT in its weakest form, the face of Pennywise is so cartoonishly slopped onto the rocks that it makes it look like an old Anti-Smoking commercial more than it being close to death.
ITs form in the final battle is essentially just a clown drider. It feels lacking compared to all the other grotesque forms IT takes, and Pennywises body awkwardly sticking out of a mostly regular (if giant) spider is frankly ridiculous. It gets a bit better when its legs start turning into tentacles with a Lamprey Mouth but in some ways its almost as much of a letdown as the spider form from the miniseries.
The extremely brief appearance of Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning" during Eddie's flashback. Reviewers have commented that it felt like a random insertion of Black Comedy that broke the suspenseful tone of the sequence - not helped by the song potentially reminding audiences of the opening scene of Deadpool (2016).
Richies comical comebacks and remarks are so frequent and out of place in a cosmic horror story, yet given the weird shit hes seen as a kid and whats unfolding in front of him now, it actually works in showing hes using humor to lighten the dark situations.
The way Henry Bowers laughs at the sight of Pennywises red balloon in the mental institution is so over the top and hammy for an adult to act, but considering hes practically gone mentally insane after murdering his father and friends, it comes off shockingly realistic and turns back around to being creepy again.
Bill reliving his childhood by riding down the road on his old bike Silver and laughing like a child as hes riding, complete with him shouting "Hi Ho, Silver!" Its laughable to see a grown adult acting like this, but since it plays into the main goal the losers are trying to do (remember their childhoods for the Ritual of Chüd), add on that its been 27 years since Bill has even been to Derry and it turns back into a Heartwarming Moment.
Older Than They Think: Adrian Mellon's death drew controversy, with many criticizing the real life parallels to the murder of Charlie Howard, a real gay man who died very similarly minus Pennywise. The scene was accused of being added into the movie for "gay bashing" or simply shock value but this scene was actually a scene from the original book that was cut from the TV Movie and was meant to show just how monstrous IT was, drawing on Charlie Howard's murder two years prior to the release of the novel.
Stephen King appears as the antique store owner who Bill buys Silver back from, with his acting style fitting the role of a crabby old man much better than some of his other cameos.
Brandon Crane, who played young Ben in It (1990), is in the boardroom meeting of this films adult Ben.
Tom Rogan proves himself to be quite chilling and brutal as Bev's abusive husband, perhaps even more so then his miniseries-self. As noted in They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character below, some movie-goers thought he would be a better pivotal antagonist hunting the Losers for Pennywise then Henry Bowers.
Padding: The subplot with an older Henry Bowers escaping the asylum and hunting the Losers has been criticized for adding very little to the film besides bloating out the runtime, and something that was only in the film because it was in the book. With the exception of injuring Mike and Eddie, Bowers has no other effect on the plot and after Richie kills him to defend Mike he is never mentioned again, He isn't even able to injure the two to the extent that he did in the book (crippling Eddie in one arm and nearly killing Mike).
Signature Scene: Pennywise's appearances under the bleachers and in the hall of mirrors (a.k.a. his two successful child murders) were heavily featured in the film's advertisements and have been cited by critics and fans as among the scariest and most well-acted scenes in the film.
Tom Rogan and Bill's wife Audra completely disappear from the film after their introduction scenes, and the subplots from the book where they follow Bill and Beverly to Derry and encounter It are Adapted Out. Some fans of the book felt these subplots would have added more to the film than the Bowers one that it kept.
Dean and Victoria, young children who are preyed upon by Pennywise while implied to be as isolated and bullied as the Losers were due to respectively being a newcomer and having a disfiguring birthmark, could have been good representations of a new generation facing down evil with them shown to be wary or aware of Pennywise. Instead they are killed off after only brief appearances.
The gang that attacked Adrian Mellon and his partner. With the time spent with them beating up the couple and throwing Adrian off the bridge, you would think they were being potentially set up the secondary antagonists much like Henry Bowers gang in the previous film. Instead, they flee the scene and outright disappear from the rest of the film without getting any comeuppance.
Adrians partner, Don, could have also potentially played a sizable role in the film. He was the only other adult character besides the Losers Club to see IT. Don could have filled in the void left by Stanley and could have been looking for revenge for Adrian. Even Mike could have questioned Don about IT. Instead, Don just disappears from the film and is never seen or mentioned again.
Even Greta Keene falls victim to this. While she was The Scrappy in the first film, the second film presented an opportunity for her to be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap by odd almost sort of Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with Eddie (where the "best buds" part is entirely on Eddie and the "vitriol" part is entirely on Greta) to be expanded upon more in the past and present, and since she's still living in Derry in the present day, Bev could have confronted her and gotten some closure with her childhood bully. Instead she's essentially a cameo and seems to have undergone zero change from the person she was in her youth, her exchange with Eddie is brief, and she and Bev never meet with each other despite It using a younger Greta as part of a vision to torment Bev in the climax.
Richie receives Adaptational Sexuality and is all but stated to be a closeted gay man. Despite It using his secret to taunt him, there is no scene where Richie faces his fear and comes out to the group, and there is no indication that he plans to come out after It is defeated.
Despite being frequently hinted at in both the first film (the old woman who sees Georgie being killed, the car that drives past Ben being mutilated by Henry) and in this film (Victoria's mother making no effort to stop her daughter chasing a firefly to her doom), the It-influenced malaise and apathy of the adults of Derry never becomes a plot point - or even really mentioned - the way it is in the book and mini-series.
Despite adding a reference to The Shining with Pennywise saying "Here's Johnny!" through a door, the film removes the book's flashback featuring a young Dick Hallorann.
Tough Act to Follow: The first movie met with incredible acclaim, considered one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date, so naturally Chapter Two would have a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, the mixed (but still mostly positive) reception indicates the film couldn't quite escape its predecessor's shadow.
Beverly sees an old photo of a man who looks a lot like Pennywise. It's at this moment you realize just how much of his creepy appearance wasn't the result of makeup.
Unfortunately, the de-aging CGI process used on the younger cast comes across this way, particularly Ben, Stan, and Mike in the last scene.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: Eddie hanging back while everyone else rescues Beverly from It when it drags her underwater is framed as cowardly, but given that Eddie had an open stab wound in his face at the time, not wanting to dive headfirst into literal sewage is pretty understandable.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Stanleys suicide or rather his sacrifice. Its meant to come across as a tough but ultimately the right choice, as his sacrifice would be necessary to ensure the Losers presented a united front against It. But the problem is that we dont learn of this until after ITs defeat and most of the time until then presented it as if he were too afraid to face IT again. Instead, his not suicide letter comes more across as Stanley trying to rationalize/justify his cowardice.
The Woobie: Oh, some people in Derry are to be pitied...
Adrian Mellon and his boyfriend Don Haggerty are two completely normal guys set upon by a brutal group of homophobes. Adrian is shown to be a very kind man, giving a prize he won to a little girl for 'letting him win,' and when he stands up for himself to said homophobes, he ends up beaten to near death. When thrown off a bridge, Pennywise makes Adrian his first victim in 27 years. To make this worse, Don can only watch helplessly. His look of relief when seeing Pennywise fish Adrian out of the river - thinking he was a good samaritan - turning to one of horror is heartbreaking.
The aforementioned little girl, Victoria, or "Vicky," is given a surprising amount of depth beyond 'victim.' She has a port-wine stain mark on her face, resulting in people mocking and ridiculing her, and Pennywise targets her by appealing to her sense of empathy and kindness before promising to remove the mark (by killing her). Even worse, her mother is shown to be quite cold to her, meaning Adrian's act of kindness might be the one major expression of kindness she's experienced in a long time. And not only that, but she loses Adrian to Pennywise before she is killed by It herself.
Dean, a young boy in Derry, is haunted by Pennywise and targeted mostly to torment Bill himself. The poor kid is mistaken for a form of Pennywise by Richie, who he's clearly a fan of, resulting in an enraged rant from him (which Richie regretted immediately after realizing his mistake), and then he's frequently terrorized by the adults who's only wanting to help him for reason he can't understand. Then along comes Pennywise, who corners him in a house of mirrors to sadistically murder with savage relish.
Richie. If you thought what he went in the first movie was horrible he gets it worse this time around. He accidentally scares away a fan after he thought he was Pennywise, is tormented by Pennywise himself for his secret (being gay) and then watches his best friend and crush Eddie die (and covered in his blood).
Eddie as well. Loses his friend Stan, crashes his car, gets vomited on by Pennywise, stabbed in the face by Henry, yelled at by Bill and is finally fatally impaled by Pennywise in front of a horrified Richie.