How Not to Hate ‘The Dark Tower’ Movie
First, you must know: I love the Dark Tower series.
I LOVE. The Dark Tower. I listen to the entire audio book cycle at least three times a year.
A goodly portion of my left calf is devoted to this. I commissioned a picture of my cat, Jimmy, as Roland.
Believe me, I am a fan:
(yes, I know I need lotion… so much lotion…)
So it’s easy to imagine the more I heard about the upcoming movie, the more horror I experienced.
(spoiler alert – DUH)
Granted, Stephen King gave himself the BIGGEST ‘get out of jail free’ card ever when he wrote the ending of DT… that the entire cycle repeats itself until Roland can get it RIGHT. Things change each time. Soooo this means SK can say that ANYTHING can now happen and have it fit within the mythology.
I wanted to boycott the movie. I wanted to HATE the movie. I wanted to sit in the theatre and hrumph each little change… but I didn’t.
If you are a purist (as I fancied myself), put everything out of your mind that you have already heard/read/watched and replace it with this (no, it’s *not* true but this is how it goes easiest):
NO ONE INVOLVED IN THE MOVIE EVER READ ANY OF THE BOOKS.
You know that friend/relative, you’ve been telling about DT for YEARS, but just can’t seem to be bothered to actually READ it? Well, this person wrote the screenplay. If you think of it that way, you can actually sail through this movie relatively easily.
I really need to watch it again with a notepad so I can make notes of specific things to address, but for now, I’m just going to go with what I remember:
1. Algo Siento has been mushed together with the concept of stealing twins from Wolves of the Calla. The movie opens with young people frolicking and then being taken to a building where they are strapped to chairs and made to shoot psychic power at the Tower.
2. Oh, at the Tower? I thought all things serve the beam?! Apparently, screw the beams. Even though the words “beam quake” are actually used at one point and Jake even draws the picture we’ve all come to recognize as the wagon wheel design with the tower in the middle and the beams radiating out from it. Yes, we are shooting power straight at the tower and not at beams that support it.
3. The biggies you know already: No Eddie, No Odetta/ Detta/Susannah, no Oy.
4. Jake is Jake in that he’s a young boy … named Jake. He is likable, but lacks most if not all recognizable characteristics. His dad “Elmer Chambers” (yep, they kept that) was a firefighter who got killed. Jake loves his mother, but has an asshole stepdad/mom-boyfriend (whatever). This is hugely different from the two cardboard cutout parents from the book. I suppose this is supposed to make him more sympathetic.
In fact, most recognizable names in this movie are just names. Richard Sayer? He’s there. For 5 minutes. He’s just a flunkie. His name might as well be Lennie. Or Jerry. I almost said “rat boy” or “rat guy,” but I’m pretty sure someone already had that name in the credits.
5. I have NEVER liked Matthew McConaughey… until now. He’s getting older. And it shows. But that’s NOT a bad thing. It’s easy to imagine him as the new Christopher Walken in the future. He’s got a VERY heavy “Prophecy” vibe going on.
6. What will make you angry: Roland denies being a gunslinger. This is WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. Whether the world has moved on or not, Roland is a gunslinger in every fiber of his being. He would NEVER deny this.
7. Another anger ball: His quest is purely one of vengeance. UNWORTHY. He seeks only to kill Walter… NOT TO climb to the top of the tower. Yes, you have to have clearly defined conflict so I understand the good guy/bad guy dichotomy, but to change who the gunslinger is AND what his quest is?? Yeaaaa… no.
8. No lobstrosities . He is injured by, like, a demon or something (I guess you could call it a Speaking Demon as it pretends to be Jake’s dad and Roland’s dad). So he does seek medical treatment, but it is practically an aside and his illness takes NO time whatsoever. Versus the HUGE amount of time he spends ill in the books.
9. No doors, no keys. The doors have been mashed up with the portals that are located along the beam. But this is more a… well.. think Stargate-type thing.
10. They got the Taheen down pretty good. The human masks are well done.
11. There are roses, the Sombra corporation is a thing. At least it’s painted on the side of a van. The Crimson King is mentioned, but one gets the feeling they are referring to a title Walter probably wants to ascend to. As they have made him pretty much The Big Bad of the movie.
12. The guns are nothing special. They are described in the books as big, heavy, fancy, scrolled… at one point, Eddie is afraid to take one from Roland lest the unexpected weight cause him to drop it and break his foot. But, hey, now they are apparently forged from the metal of Excalibur. Soooo that’s a thing, right?
I’m sure I will come back and amend this later as more things occur to me, but this is a good list for now. I know it sounds like a lot, but not if you first apply what I said: no one involved with this movie is trying to make you mad, they just wanted to make a movie. This is the movie my husband would have made for me. My husband knows I love the books so he read them too. Many many years ago. And has an extremely poor memory.
It’s short, but jamming SEVEN books in to one movie means a lot of stuff won’t get mentioned or gets mentioned for two seconds. It also understands that there will probably never be another tower movie made so it wraps up while leaving an opening for another… if such were to be desired.
Just go, get your popcorn, relax, enjoy the a/c. It’s better than a kick in the head. It’ll be ok, I promise. At least we got SOMETHING.