In a time when so much TV is feeling cinematic, "It Chapter 2" feels like it would work better as a TV miniseries (and yeah, I know they did that already, but c'mon).

The 2017 movie - a streamlined version of an unwieldly Stephen King novel - focused only on the characters as kids, and it felt like a complete story. This new movie feels episodic - like a series of vignettes focused on individual characters rather than a cohesive story as a whole. "Chapter Two" finds the kids from The Loser's Club all grown up and returning to their hometown of Derry, Maine, when the demon clown Pennywise surfaces again.

Over its near three hour run-time, each character has to go look for a thing to help them fight the monster, they find the thing, something scary happens to them, they run away, and then it repeats for the next character. That happens about five times. The story structure gets tedious. 

There are some good scares and grotesque imagery. Unfortunately, too many of those scares are undercut by bad jokes or gags. The movie never quite settles on a tone. But it looks slick and it's well cast with Bill Hader stealing the show. I think we're only just beginning to see what this actor is capable of doing. 

These characters were just more interesting as kids. That's why I much prefer the first movie, which played like an R-rated Spielberg picture from the 80s with genuine scares.

"Chapter Two" has likable elements, but it overstays its welcome shambling toward an ending that made my eyes roll so hard I was afraid they'd get stuck that way.  Producers haven't ruled out a "Chapter Three," and if we go for it, we're the real clowns. 

EPPLER'S RATING: * * 1/2

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies