To start things off honestly: "It" is probably one of the poorest book adaptions I've seen in quite some time. After reading the book and finding an extraordinary piece of writing, an amazing work of art, I was thrilled to see the movie. I knew it couldn't be all that the book was, but I hope for some semblance...
And some semblance is what I got... and that's all. The deep, thoughtful construction that helped build the novel, where both the stories, the side of 1958 and the side of 1985 (the years are changed in the movie, but there's nothing wrong with that) are shown alternatingly, starting with 1958, moving ahead to 1985, and back again, creating a heartfelt atmosphere. The movie instead plays the older part in the first segment, as one full flashback that tries to cram way too many events into one bit, whereas they should have simply tried to organize their own way of telling, and the more recent events in the second half. It seems like every event in the children's section is segmented into 15 minute episodes, just trying to pile notable events in from the book, and it doesn't work. It might have worked better if they kept the construction that King originally established, but even then it would have hardly stood, as they took the events for no reason.
And even with this chronological sorting, they seemed to actually forget scenes and had to tack them on later as additional flashbacks that had little to do with the scene, but desperately needed introduction earlier.
Gone is the unifying theme of the group: They each escaped It. That's there, in a way, but it's moreover just tossed in for scares, and horribly stupid ones at that. Gone is the leper with the three-foot tongue that chased Eddie down the traintracks. Gone is any fear or tension when Bill rides off on his bike with Stan (it was Richie in the book, but that's not important...It's supposed to be a moment of escape, but they just simply ride away, ruining all reason for Silver to matter until the end, when the makers suddenly remembered that they needed it.
And then, the worst two bastardizations. It's OK if Richie encountered a werewolf instead of a giant statue. It's OK if the scene with Georgie at the start was during the day, stealing what could have been a truly horrific scene (maybe cause it was made for TV, that lightened it.) It's OK if the whole point of Henry's return is gone (maybe not... but I'd have let it slide.) And it's OK that they cut out the kids being lost after first believing they killed It (definitely because of the made for TV movie... hell, even a theatrical movie... I don't see that scene, even in suggestion, ever reaching film if this movie were to be remade and I'm not going to reveal it, you'll just have to read the book.) And gone is the origin of It. No, those things are forgivable... let's get to what isn't.
Personal Bastardization: I felt jipped when they finally confronted It and the whole deadlights business was dumbed down. It wasn't supposed to be hypnotic, it was a staring contest, that would eventually lead into the Ritual of Chud. This point is missed. And then the Turtle (don't ask, read) is also gone, losing the relation to the universe that Stephen King set up in the novel. It's no wonder that the scene of Patrick Hockstetter and his demented fridge (aside from it being made for TV and that scene would never be allowed), as the dealings of the Other weren't explored or even mentioned. I wanted to see how they portrayed the whole scene and they didn't even have it, which ruined the entire final confrontation at the end.
Universal Bastardization: The vow to return. In this, they easily walk out of the sewer and look outward, where Bill has them promise to return. In the novel, they crawl from there, exhausted and bewildered. Instead, there is no forced promise; they do it themselves, cutting their palms with a glass Coke bottle and making a blood pact that they would return if It was still alive. And the meaning disappeared as well, but I won't get into why, for fear of telling too much of the book, which I truly hope the readers of this review will read.
OK, I suppose I should get onto why I let this have two stars instead of one if I hated what it had done to the book, right? There are some beautifully horrifying scenes, such as when Beverly exits her childhood home and sees a balloon bouncing down the road, laughing. The sharkteeth in Pennywise's mouth aren't used well, but they look scary. And there was the great scene when they were children, where they hold hands in a circle and Stan suddenly finds himself holding hands with the clown. The acting is decent for a TV Movie and there are a few notable celebrities.
These few things aren't enough to make the movie good, and it really would only be scary for young children, who probably shouldn't be watching it anyway.
With the same budget and time space, a decent movie of "It" could have been made. Instead, there's this trash. I can only hope that someday, there will be another version of this created, one that captures the emotion, atmosphere, and incredible imagination that formed Stephen King's masterpiece of a novel, "It."