Okay, so after all these months I finally sat my ass down and watched The Dark Tower movie. It was okay. Not great. Not bad. Not nearly as bad as the reviews lead me to believe, but definitely not deserving of any special praise. Better than the 16% it has on rotten tomatoes, but probably not good enough to be anything more than a 50% or so. I was expecting Matthew McConaughey as Walter to be awful, and Tom Taylor as Jake to be unbearably bad. Neither was the case. I was also expecting Idris Elba to be completely devoid of emotion and totally wooden… but that’s how Roland should be.
I did not expect it to be anything remotely similar to any of the seven (or eight, I guess) novels. I actually read the last chapter of book seven that explained why we shouldn’t expect to see the story from the books reimagined into a movie. If it hadn’t been a radically changed story then I would have been much more upset with the final product than I was.
If I have one complaint it is that they left two of the strongest characters out of the story. Eddie and Susannah don’t show up until book two, but with the story being drastically changed there really isn’t a reason to make them wait for a hypothetical movie two. Now, given what a flop this movie was, we can pretty much bank on never seeing them come to life on screen. Another complaint is that it just plain wasn’t violent enough. The books aren’t really horror stories. There is that element to them, but really they are just fantasy stories that tend to be pretty bloody. I got the feeling that the film went out of it’s way to be PG-13, as well as being less than two hours. We could have used a little more back story on Roland and his people. We could have used some more development of the relationship between Roland and Jake. We could have used more development of the relationship between Roland and Walter and what an insufferable prick Walter is supposed to be. Walter was actually too focused on the tower for my taste. We could have used a lot more of a sense of peril for Jake. I never felt that he was in any real danger. He was a teenaged kid in a movie geared toward teenagers and I never felt like his life was on the line. No spoilers, but go read the books and see why a plot armored Jake is a bad thing. Mostly though, it was just lacking in violence and mayhem.
Speaking of violence and mayhem, the one scene that really worked for me was Roland handling the crowd at the Dixie Pig. That is what I’ve always imagined a gunslinger in action would look like. Not just a knight with a couple of guns, but a full on super hero with a couple of guns. That scene made me smile from ear to ear. That was almost good enough to make the slow moving scenes worthwhile.
The original plan for the studio was to have this movie kick off a franchise. There would be more movies to continue Roland’s quest to save the tower, and a TV series to fill in his back story. Big plans for sure, and the movie being a giant box office failure means those big plans have most likely been scrapped. That’s too bad. After only about 90 minutes this movie left me wanting to see more.
Oh well. Maybe they can get J.J. Abrams to reboot the series or something.