Sunday, my family and I caught the late-night RPX movie of “The Dark Tower,” expecting a jolly good time but little else.
We weren’t disappointed. And yet, we weren’t completely satisfied, either.
I knew going in the movie would be a disappointment in terms of faithfully following novelist Stephen King’s original series. Fans of “The Dark Tower” book series are up in arms about the blasphemous adaptation that leaves out key side characters and guts the inter-lapping soul of the story, and rightly so.
King’s novels haven’t stood up to movie and television adaptations, except for one or two exceptions. That’s because his writing takes place mostly in characters’ minds, where nothing is chronological, linear, or Disney-friendly.
“The Shining” is perhaps the best example of Hollywood’s epic failure to launch. That was one fucked-up mind-fuck of a novel, and a true horror story.
If nothing else, the movie of “The Dark Tower” has managed to kick me in my ass about cracking open the books my cousin Margaret sent me years ago. The box they were shipped in is still sitting patiently gathering dust to the right of my bedroom door.
Idris Elba (Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger), Matthew McConaughey (Walter O’Dim, the Man in Black), and Tom Taylor (Jake Chambers) create a world of good and evil out of virtually nothing but the nuts and bolts of an anemic script, cast, and focus. Their chemistry, together and apart, is palpable.
McConaughey won me over with his ability to turn truth into a premeditated weapon. I saw my own ruthless inner dialogue play out, especially when his Man in Black pointed out the characters’ flaws and met them out with a twisted karmic justice — living out my dreams.
Elba clearly embodied the last Gunslinger’s reluctance to take on the heroic mantle and his gradual care for the boy. I felt he could’ve easily embodied the real Gunslinger’s early contempt for heroics — doesn’t Roland kill the boy? — and slow, dirty redemption, a common theme with King’s leads.
We got none of the books in this movie. We barely got a movie (the film is fairly short for the volume of material), as filmmakers are supposedly setting us all up for semi-regular installments, ala that other dismal reboot, “Star Wars.”
We also got plenty of PC-approved minorities in the seers that Roland seeks out.
They serve mostly as a plot device to showcase the last Gunslinger’s shooting ability and his growing attachment to the boy, as well as a means to placate the PC-minded who seem only to be on the watch for offensive shit in movies rather than to just sit back, STFU, and watch.
Another thing that pissed me off is the film’s focus on the boy. Luckily, Taylor stands up to the scrutiny. But “The Dark Tower” is Roland’s story, n’est–ce pas? The only other character that stands up to him is the boy in a typical, overplayed Disney-fied “E.T.” phone home fairy tale.
Where are the members of Roland’s Ka-tet? Stuttering Bill? The schizophrenic lady in the wheelchair and the naked druggie everyone’s talking about online?
What a lonely shell of a movie this is. It’s as if TPTB [The Powers That Be] purposely pieced this extended trailer together and strung us along under the pretenses of an Aug. 4, 2017 movie premiere… in anticipation for the boatload of money they want to make off the series franchise.
Talk about cynical filmmaking.
Whatever happened to stand-alone blockbusters like “Towering Inferno,” “Enter The Dragon,” and “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind?”
“Gone With The Wind,” Part 4.
Maybe Hollywood’s second attempt at Stephen King’s other novel, “It,” will fare better next month. I won’t hold my breath.
I also won’t tell you the huge let-down at the end — King’s one and only fatal flaw.
*Psst. It’s not a clown.