Jeff’s Movie Reviews – It Chapter Two

Jeff's Movie Reviews

“Want your boat, Georgie?”

by Jeff Bowles

When the first big screen adaptation of Steven King’s It hit theaters two years ago, it took the world by storm. Audiences found it incredibly unnerving, disturbing, and twisted. In other words, it was everything fans of the most important horror writer of the 20th century (and maybe even the 21st century) could want. Part one of the It saga is a coming of age story, a love letter to the kinds of urban legends that have haunted the young and the young-at-heart for generations. I mean for cripes sake, a killer clown? Nightmare fuel, right? And one considered top-notch by critics and movie-goers alike. Too bad that 2017 modern classic was only half the story.

It Chapter Two wastes no time catching up with the heroes of the first movie, the Losers Club, the same rowdy bunch of kids who stopped that pesky, evil-as-all-hell clown (or whatever he is) before his spree of terror and death could claim one more fragile life in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. The Losers are all adults now, and though they’ve forgotten a surprising amount of their battle with the eponymous monster, most of them, after a fashion, choose to remember and honor the oath they took together to return to Derry if and when the nightmare began again.

That’s the problem with evil immortal-monster-alien-clown-shapeshifter thingies. They just don’t take no for an answer. The cast of Chapter Two is suitably star-studded. Jessica Chastain plays the adult Beverly, who possibly had the most to deal with in the first film, mostly due to an abusive father. She’s still suffering at the hands of an abysmally abusive man, her husband, which is sad, though annoyingly ham-fisted in the ludicrous fashion with which the guy goes from zero-to-full-on-rage without any believable provocation. Stephen King has never been known for subtlety, and It Chapter Two suffers from it. Not that the movie’s problems begin and end with the author.

Bill (James McAvoy), Richie (Bill Hader), Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Ben (Jay Ryan), and Eddie (James Ransone) join Beverly back in Derry twenty-seven years after the events of movie one, each of them having lived surprisingly full lives. Well, all except for Mike, who’s spent the last three decades charting, following, and studying the supernatural killer. One of the Losers, Stan (Andy Bean), chooses to end his own life rather than set foot in that town again, which makes for a chilling prologue to the events that follow.

The first real set-piece of the movie takes place at the fan-favorite Chinese restaurant, a scene even the 1990 made-for-TV It nailed. It’s more adult and much creepier this time, and the dialog flows about as well as the original banter Steven King committed to the page. Then of course there’s the main event, the monster himself, played once again by Bill Skarsgard. Holly cannoli, this guy is freaky. Unfortunately, director Andy Muschietti makes the mistake of giving us less of him. In fact, less is the watchword for the entire exercise.

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It Chapter Two is bloated and water-logged, just like that one guy It killed in … never mind. The only significant moments of cogency and relatability occur in flashbacks to the Losers as kids. These brief indulgences serve to remind us just how comparatively focused part one was, and we can’t help but feel a slight twinge of nostalgia for a movie that’s only two years old.

The cast does a great job exploring their characters’ unique personalities and allowing us to feel true terror when the big moments arise. But the film seems far too interested in pondering and extolling the concept rather than pushing it forward. Stephen King may be one of the most beloved pop-fiction writers of all time, but a second-parter built on what amounts to little more than a scavenger hunt? Yee-ikes. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Stand, Carrie, The Shining, and many others, as much as the next guy. Some of those books used long-windedness to their advantage. I hear they’re adapting The Stand next. Fingers crossed, all you kooky King nuts.

The climax of the film is impressive if confounding. By the time we get there, it’s become apparent the It saga has suffered from the same disjointed sequel-manufacturing other literary adaptations indulged in (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight, I’m looking at you). Funnily enough, Marvel Studios’ big Avengers two-parter—released in 2018 and 2019, respectively—managed the trick in a much neater fashion, but then, those movies are actually two separate stories blended into one, whereas the It saga feels like, well, a nicely-structured opener and an obligatory half-waisted capstone.

Which isn’t to say It Chapter Two doesn’t have its moments. With high production values, an excellent cast, and a willingness to scare no matter what it takes, the movie can’t help but hit the mark more often than it misses. It’s just that the scenario doesn’t get as much breathing room this time. Scratch that. The problem is the scenario gets far too much breathing room.

Writing to Be Read gives It Chapter Two a six out of ten.

Not a truly poor nor truly serviceable adaptation, but who knows? Maybe when you binge both movies together, Chapter Two feels more satisfying. Is it possible a freakish clown lured us all down into his favorite storm sewer and made a nice, toothy snack of our expectations? I guess it could be worse. We could’ve buried a beloved dog in a pet cemetery, rented out a room at a haunted Colorado hotel, or engaged in interstate mayhem with a possessed car. Ooph. What a way to make a living.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative short stories are collected in Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, is available on Amazon now!

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Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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#Bookreview – The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman)

via #Bookreview – The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman)


Jeff’s Pep Talk: All Hail the Late Bloomers!

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All Hail the Late Bloomers!

By Jeff Bowles

The first Wednesday of every month, science fiction and horror writer Jeff Bowles offers advice to new and aspiring authors. Nobody ever said this writing thing would be easy. This is your pep talk.

It’s a forgone conclusion water never boils when you watch it. As aphorisms go, it’s kind of true, I guess. I know that in my own life, there have been times I’ve wanted something so bad, have focused on it so intensely, that it was almost no surprise I ended up with nada in the end. Do you feel that way about your writing career? Stuck? Unappreciated? Have you felt that way now for years or even decades?

It’s pretty rare for an aspiring author to strike gold on her or his first time out. Most writers accept this as fact, but I often wonder how many of us have internalized it. Stories of the ubiquitous wunderkind abound. It stirs our imaginations, the young upstart genius who, in earnest, works diligently to produce that one perfect novel and who, after a little effort, lands themselves a literary agent, then a book deal, then a movie deal, then…

But what about folks who don’t achieve much until they get a bit older? What about the late bloomer, who works just as hard as that young upstart, but for whom success has been slow in coming?

For a lot of people on the outside looking in, a writer’s inability to move the proverbial ball forward is often a sign of poor motivation, or worse, a lack of true talent. Unfortunately, the megastars have tainted the pool in this regard. For one, writers who achieve success while young tend to be tragically nonchalant about publishing and what it really takes for the vast majority of their peers to reach the same level. Selling yet another novel or short story is no big deal for them, and in my experience, more than a few of them fail to see the struggle the rest of us face. I don’t mean to call anyone out, of course. It’s just that perspectives shift wildly depending on who you talk to.

I don’t know about you, but I like to believe in a little thing called fate. Sometimes the things we want most just aren’t right for us, and it’s only after the fact, after we’ve struggled to attain them, that we realize we were perhaps meant for greener pastures. Whatever comes my way in life, I can’t actually argue with the cards I’ve been dealt, and neither can you. You can try, I suppose. Let me know in the comments section below how that’s worked out for you. Yeah, maybe it’s taking you longer to reach your goals than it took others. We can try to control things, buy self-help books, attend seminars about producing more commercially viable writing, but the reality of the situation is that thousands upon thousands of really talented folks struggle on a daily basis to be heard. It doesn’t mean we have to hate what we do. In fact, in can empower us to enjoy it even more.

There’s some solace to take if you’re perhaps getting on in life and are wondering if you should pack your silly writing dream up and focus on more worthwhile goals. Feeling dejected, rejected, and abused is not an age or experience thing. We all know what it’s like. The good news is that many of the most talented and successful authors you’ve ever heard of didn’t get their careers rolling until later in life. Bram Stoker, for example, didn’t publish his first story until the age of forty-three. And William S. Burroughs, the author of Naked Lunch, didn’t find the strength to take his writing seriously until the tragic death of his wife.

Luckily, you don’t need tragedy to learn the same lesson he did. It’s never too late. Not ever. You can’t predict when or where lighting will strike, and if you choose to quit, you won’t see all your effort pay off. It can’t be denied, there is something special about that wunderkind model. I wanted to be that guy. I’m sure more than a few of you did, too. But there’s also something to be said for experience, wisdom, patience, and dare I say it, deliberate and well-measured progress (also perhaps known as SLOOOOOOW progress).

So maybe you didn’t write a book until your kids were grown, your spouse had asked for a divorce, you lost your job, or whatever else you’ve been through in life. Isn’t it safe to say you’ve experienced things you and only you can write about? A treasure trove of experience, actually. And maybe you’ve read a few good books along the way, too.

We never know how much something means to us until we no longer have it. Never assume anything when it comes to this fate business. And don’t beat up that dead horse in your own mind. No, success is not a window that closes after a set time. Enjoy the work, love the craft, keep producing, and never stop dreaming. And I mean, it could be worse, right? You may have never started writing at all. Trust me on this one, folks, the world would be a far less magical place if you had.

Until next month!


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative short stories are collected in Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, is available on Amazon now!

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Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Pep Talk segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


#Bookreview – Delilah a Frontier Romance by Kaye Lynne Booth

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The Numbers Killer: A Crime Thriller that keeps readers guessing

The Numbers Killer

Things aren’t always what they seem, and The Numbers Killer, by Jenifer Ruff is no exception. In this psycholigical thriller mystery, people are are turning up dead and Agent Victoria Roslin is a tough police investigator who must race to catch a killer. The stakes are raised even higher and the clock runs faster when it turns personal and Victoria is targeted. It seems the killer has her number. Can she solve the mystery of how the victims are connected. Can she catch the killer and catch the killer, or will she become the nest victim of the Numbers Killer?

The Numbers Killer is a well-crafted mystery that keeps readers guessing. There’s nothing cozy about this mystery. Ruff keeps the action moving and throws in plenty of surprise twists right down to the last pages. I give  it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


I was interviewed by Leadville Laurel

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Wow! You’ve got to to check this out. Leadville Laurel​ interviewed me and she made me sound fantastic! Find out how I got to where I am today, and find out where I’m going. If you were there to help me along the way, you may be mentioned, too. So, don’t miss it.  http://leadvillelaurel.com/author-kaye-lynne-booth-wears-many-hats/?unapproved=25180&moderation-hash=c866199a4425cae11bfa2f24dfaf0b3c#comment-25180


“A Slip on Golden Stairs”: A western paranormal romance?

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Some might cliam that the paranormal and western genres don’t go together, but A Slip on Golden Stairs, by Joanne Sundell does an excellent job of melding past with present, offering readers a romantic ghostly tale that you won’t want to put down. This well-crafted story conjures ghosts from the Alaska gold rush days, when many risked everything, including their lives, for a chance to strike it rich, telling their story through their connection to the present.

Abby Gray doesn’t believe in ghosts, but she can find no other explanation for the the mysterious figure of a woman in the second floor window of what was once a brothel, or the handsome stranger who appears when she least expects it, or the unexplained man’s voice calling her name, that no one else seems to hear. What starts out as a summer of chasing gold mining history, turns into a ghost hunting adventure into the past that ends in love. Through her search for answers, we learn the story of Abigail Grayson, a tough young girl, determined to find her freedom and independence in the Alaskan gold fields. The connection between the two women and their beaus is revealed slowly, with each turn of the page, as the love between Abigail and Elias navigates the obstacles along the way, and Abby searches for a man who can’t possibly exist. Abby believes she might be losing her mind. After all, can one fall in love with a ghost?

Whether readers are into westerns, ghosts or romance, A Slip on Golden Stairs is sure to satisfy.  The two stories are woven together in a masterful blend of multiple genres. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.