Friday, September 1, 2017

Movie Review: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower, was not a perfect movie, but it was a fun movie nonetheless.

There are going to be spoilers of sorts because I cannot think of any other way to talk about this movie.

I am about 100 pages shy of finishing the third book in the series, The Wastelands, when Conklederp and I saw The Dark Tower last week.

I can also fully understand why those who loved The Dark Tower books would not like this movie.  Like, at all.

I feel that Sony did not take the appropriate measures in advertising this movie for what it is, a sequel to the books and not an attempt at a direct adaptation of the books.

Okay, I think that is enough for disclaimer/context-required snip-its for me to actually start talking about why I enjoyed this movie as opposed to hating it with a justifiable passion.

Going into the movie I had already known ahead of time that The Dark Tower was not going to be a direct adaptation of the books, but that it contained story elements from the first and third books in the series, The Gunslinger and The Wastelands.  However, nowhere in any of the trailers from Sony did I read or hear anything about this approach.  Even on message boards (predominantly IMDb and YouTube; although there are similar sentiments on Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic) there was a lot of chatter which implied that a vast number of people did not know that the movie The Dark Tower was supposed to be a sequel to the books.  Again, not having read the series to it conclusion (yet), I was aware after reading a few articles that by the final book, The Dark Tower, it is said that Roland has reached the Dark Tower multiple times in the past, but that he keeps being sent back to the beginning of things and is forced to follow the Man in Black back across the desert.  Now I do not know how this happens, which I am sure is something that will be explained in the books, so I am not too worried about knowing this information before I read about it.  I just think that this is vital information for people who love the books, but may not have been following press releases leading up to the movie coming out.

Having this information I felt was integral to me actually enjoying the movie, especially with just about 40% of the story in my noggin.  There were a handful of scenes that I recognized as adaptations from the books, like when Jake Chambers entered the deserted house in Brooklyn.  That started out as a terrifying scene, even without how it played out in the books.  But once the house attacked, it became entertaining to watch and by the end, I was left a bit disappointed.  To me, it felt like the scene had been trimmed down to something shorter in order to get Jake to Mid-World so that he could meet up with Roland.  So if I felt like that about one scene that lasted maybe five minutes, I can only imagine how someone who has read this series multiple times must have felt, even if they knew about the sequel-ness going into the movie.  The rest of the movie, I liked the little hints to the books, the question about animals still talking that was ignored as soon as it was asked was an amusing touch.  The Man in Black's statement about Roland's last "crew" dying, and the Horn of Eld was a nice touch too even if I am only able to guess at its full meaning.  The various Easter eggs referencing other Stephen King works (The Overlook, Pennywise, Rita Hayworth, 1408, etc) was nice and non obtrusive too.  I would have liked there to have been some reference to High Speech and Low Speech, or other similarities between the two worlds, but that might have required more time that was not dedicated to Roland hunting Walter.

And still, I did enjoy the movie.  I thought Idris Elba was great as Roland.  His matter of fact, single mindedness in his goal was played in a way that did not make the character seem lifeless, careless, or uninteresting; I also have a recognized bias towards Idris Elba, so there is that too.  Matthew McConaughey did a great job portraying the powerful villain, although only really having encountered most of The Man in Black in the first book, I cannot say if his depiction of Walter was an accurate one.  I felt that he played a great counterpart to Idris Elba's Roland.

I feel like this is what it boils down to in the end:  The Dark Tower was a fun movie.  For people like my mágr Beardsnbourbon who have a fervent love for The Dark Tower books, I might be a bit more weary about recommending it.  I guess you could equate it to asking the late Christopher Lee to watching a 90 minute semi-adaptation of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (if Sauron was able to send Bilbo into a different reality to a time before he stepped out of his door after Galdalf and the Dwarves in the late morning) and tell him that it was a fun movie.  Actually, I do not think that equates well.  Okay, how about doing your second run through of Ghosts'n Goblins, but it is shortened down to a 30 minute snack with only hinting that you have already been through the first illusory part?  Actually, that one might be an improvement.  Anyway, you get the idea.  Maybe?

And then there are rumors/facts of another movie being planned which according to the director Nikolaj Arcel, will most likely include story elements from The Drawing of the Three and the lobstrosities.  And I guess Eddie and Susannah too.  And then there appears to be a TV series that uses Wizard and Glass for its source material.  This will be interesting nonetheless.


P.S.  I also wanted to add, that see it or not, just do not say that this movie existing ruins the books for you.  That attempt at an argument is full of fallacies and annoying when used to justify a dislike for nearly anything. 

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