For years, I heard that the best Stephen King novels weren’t about horror and suspense, but rather a mystical world that he created under the pen name “Richard Bachman.”
The first time I saw a trailer for “The Dark Tower,” I admit, I was intrigued. But when I heard that the production company had turned the series (eight books) into just one movie totaling 95 minutes, then I had concerns.
Some movies can pull it off, adapting a long novel into a good narrative, but even those films are longer than 95 minutes.
Like “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Dunkirk” before it, the movie gives a couple of sentences at the beginning to help explain the background of the film. Unlike those two movies, “War,” which had two previous films getting the viewer involved and “Dunkirk,” an actual historical moment that you can find backstory in any World War II book, ‘The Dark Tower” can’t be explained in two sentences. Maybe, just maybe, it took eight books to define it and get readers involved instead of a couple of sentences.
I haven’t even read the books and I was fearful of reviewing this movie because of that. Then I thought, I hadn’t read the “Lord of the Rings” books either and those films are some of the best of all time.
It’s fair to say that “The Dark Tower” was not given the “Lord of the Rings” treatment but rather the typical ‘action movie where somebody predicts the apocalypse and finds the one guy to stop it fairly easily, then they get in some fights and it seems like the bad guy wins but fake out, the good guy prevails at the end’ treatment.
Any other typical summer movie and it might jump out to me for originality but no, this movie turns the source material into a Wikipedia article. The beginning of the movie is strangely edited with any chance for a backstory sped up just so we can fast-forward to where the kid (Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers) meets the Gunslinger Roland (Idris Elba) and then the editing takes another turn where everything slows down when they are together.
It honestly plods in an attempt to give the characters some development. If you sped it up at the beginning and didn’t give me a chance to care, why should I care then?
As for the acting, the boy does fine even if he is a little confused looking sometimes. I would be too if someone turned a complex novel series into a short action flick that provides no context. Elba does the best work and for an actor that has had trouble finding a good leading role, he will have to keep looking.
As for Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black or Walter, I can’t say for sure the McConaissance is over, but he hasn’t had a glorified hit in almost two years and the clock is ticking.
Stephen King famously ripped Stanley Kubrick’s version of “The Shining” back in 1980 because it changed a few plot points and added some Kubrick-isms. I can only imagine what he thinks of Hollywood trying to turn what some consider his masterpiece into another generic action movie.
Here’s hoping “It” is much better.
Jordan Bishop is a member of the Stillwater News Press movie podcast “Reel Talk,” which can be found each week on stwnewspress.com.