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Brian J. W. Lee is a writer. When he's not writing, he's plotting to plunge the world in a deep chasm of terror, darkness and screams. Sorry, did I get carried away?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Brian Reviews #4: The Dark Tower

I'm a big Stephen King fan. I've been a Stephen King fan for as long as I can remember, and I can't remember when I started reading his books. That's a sign that it's a long, long time.

So naturally, when they talked about The Dark Tower as a movie, I was stoked. I remember that I hadn't read The Dark Tower series, and I was massively guilty that I didn't. It took me seeing that the premiere date wasn't far for me to finally get around to it, because I was reading some other Stephen King novel. I had finished 'UR' on the kindle I think (not his best work) and I was half-done with 'The Tommyknockers', had to rest from it, and so I picked up 'The Gunslinger'.

Let's just say that the book and the movie are very different:

It's an hour and a half long, that's one difference...


Yes, you see that right. I gave it 4 out of 5, despite the abysmally low reviews The Dark Tower has accrued on Rotten Tomatoes or any other sites. While many people have numerous complaints about it, I see the issue they have with the movie as petty - more on that below.

There will be spoilers by the way, because this is a movie and I feel like it.

So, the basic premise is the following: the bad guy, called the man in black (not those Men in Black) portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, wants to destroy the titular dark tower with the screams of children and let in all manners of demons into the multiverse The Dark Tower is set in (somehow, the mind of children can do that). Roland, played by Idris Elba, is just looking to put a bullet between his eyes because the man in black destroyed Gilead and his father before the plot of the movie. A boy, Jake Chambers (played by Tom Taylor) became the centre of this as he wields the power to fully topple the Dark Tower. It's Roland's job to prevent that from happening.

The story and plot is noticeably different from the first book, or from what I've heard, any of the books of The Dark Tower book series. It can be a hit or miss thing. Some fans feel that it's a let down because the movie detracted from the books, or that there's a lot of missing potential. Non-fans, on hearing this, or who read the first book on hearing about the movie, cry about the same thing. Personally, I feel that there's nothing wrong. A brief scene from the movie hinted that this is all after the events of the series and - !SECOND SPOILER ALERT! - since Roland is spirited right back to the start of his journey when he reached the titular dark tower, and has done so many times.

Yep, there you have it. There could be 20 sequels to the first movie and all of them won't actually be parting ways from the novel series at all.

I guess my only complaint, like everyone else's, is that the movie's way too short, like they've butchered it or something. I guess that alone is responsible for sniping out that one star. There's so much more that they can do - fleshing out Roland and Jake's changing relationship, putting Roland in Jake's world for a longer time (since it was so entertaining), and perhaps exploring Roland's world a little longer. For now, what I've seen of Roland's world is only a fraction of what even the first book offers, not to mention the entire series. I've read The Wind Through the Keyhole too - that one short (by Stephen King standards) book has far more material than this movie, multiplied by ten.

But since it's my only complaint, you know what it means... Everything else is done well enough. I like the whole multiverse idea for the backstory, I like the rivalry between the man in black and Roland, I like how Roland and Jake's relationship evolved (though I wish it didn't evolve so quickly like a Pokemon).

Now, moving on... The cinematography is awesome. I like the colour palettes, I like the action. Another darned thing the fans say they hate is that the books never really focused on Roland's skill as a gunslinger, and that the movies did. While some of it defies belief, I believe there's nothing wrong with us getting some action from Roland showing his chops. I think it's a matter of a transition from one medium to another. I don't see anyone complaining about Mad Max when the next movie in the franchise is always one-upping the previous one. The action sequences of The Dark Tower movie is even more justifiable here. In the books, we access the story with words. In the movie, we access it with visuals. Of course we're going to see him in action!

Other than that, I love the costumes, I love the CGI, the effects, the sets. Acting's awesome. Nothing wrong there.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. It wasn't quite enough to distract me entirely from my food and drinks though (the best movies would always cause me to forget my bottle of Coke Zero), but it did keep me chomping clumsily and eagerly on my popcorn. I can't wait for the TV series and the sequels.

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