October 16, 2017

VOD Review: The Dark Tower (2017)

"Flawed but fun."

The only reason that I'm reviewing The Dark Tower in the middle of October is because I think it got an unfair shake at the Box Office this past Summer.

If you know anything about Stephen King, then you know that his Dark Tower series is essentially his magnum opus. The series consists of 8 books that have been released between 1982-2012, and its characters and themes come into play in many of his other stories.

You probably also know that it's basically unfilmable, which is where the trouble with the movie comes in.

In the novel, Roland Deschain is the last living member of an order of knights called Gunslingers, who are tasked with keeping the peace, and also keeping the world from "moving on" which involves keeping The Dark Tower -which is a nexus point between all universes- whole. He's also a descendent of King Arthur, and his guns were forged from Excalibur.

The Man in Black (who is Randall Flagg, the villain of other King stories like The Stand), is a wizard on a mission to find the tower, climb it, and destroy It, thus becoming the ruler of all. He's also a servant of The Crimson King. He also really wants to kill Roland.

"The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed."

That's how the first book starts, and throughout 8 novels, Roland and Flagg do battle, each trying to achieve their goals, and losing plenty in the process. It's all one big tragedy, and it ends with a "reach your goal and try it again, maybe this tine you'll get it right" punch in the gut, although it's a hopeful one.

The Dark Tower movie takes elements from all of the 8 books, to make up a sequel of sorts to the main story, that is actually canon. If you've read the series and know how it ends (it kinda pissed me off), then you understand why Roland is now a former Gunslinger. He's got the Horn of Eld, but after finding out that reaching The Dark Tower made him start his entire journey again, he just doesn't care anymore.

The Man in Black is alive and well, and controlling the 12 Orbs of the Beam, he's closer than even to destroying The Dark Tower. He can kill with a word and travel between worlds, and he'll stop at nothing to see his plan come to fruition.

Jake Chambers is an 11-year-old kid from NYC who has odd visions of of both Roland and The Man in Black, and everyone thinks that he's crazy because of it. He has The Shining (yes, that Shining), and as powerful as it is, it's not long before the emissaries of The Man in Black seek him out, and he's force to travel to Mid-World to escape them, and hopefully find Roland.

Together, he and Roland travel to stop The Man in Black from destroying the tower, once and for all.

As a big screen adaptation of King's massive series, The Dark Tower fails. It's too rushed and jumbled to do the source material much justice. As a stand-alone movie, I can only imagine the looks on moviegoers faces who were new to the world of TDT, wondering what in the hell was going on. It was confusing to me, and I know the source material.

So it's an adaptation that pissed off fans of the books, while failing to grab a hold of a new audience.

As rich with content as the books are, I don't understand why such a short, freewheeling version of that story is what they decided to put up on the screen. I know I said the series was unfilmable, and it is, in movie form, but certainly more effort and care could have gone into it, especially if its meant to be the jumping-off point for a TV Series.

An to attempt to hone such violent source material into a PG-13 movie just kills its impact. IT was an R-rated Horror movie in every sense, and went onto become the highest grossing Horror movie ever, so why pull the punches with The Dark Tower? Oh, Sony. That's why. Is there any property that they don't ruin?

As a companion piece to the books though, which is designed to set up Roland's next go at the tower, it makes for a fun watch. Idris Elba is a badass, and he plays Roland like no one else could have. Matthew McConuaghey makes a great MIB, and watching him manipulate people and effortlessly do them harm was fun. The two of them squaring off together was again, fun, and I'll be damned if I didn't enjoy every bit of it.

Too many delays, re-writes, and hands in the pot pretty much doomed this movie to be a mess, but I liked it on a surface level, and it definitely shows that if handled right, The Dark Tower could be a fantastic property.

The Dark Tower series is a challenging one to read, as they're long, complicated, and offer more misery and suffering than anything else. There's a good story there though, and if nothing else, the movie gives us a short glimpse of Roland and The Man in Black in action, and it makes for a nice companion piece.

I dig it, flawed as it might be. You might too.


The Dark Tower hits Blu-ray and DVD on October 31st, and VOD on October 17th.


The world of The Dark Tower is populated by lovely ladies.

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