Monday, August 7, 2017

Looking At Movies - The Dark Tower (2017)

It all started when hardcore Stephen King fans found out that The Dark Tower movie was only 95 minutes long. The cries went up to the heavens; "How can they possibly cover all of that material in just 95 minutes??"  The studio never intended to tell the story of King's epic as it was written in the books. Actually, the movie compliments the readers of the books by using the foundation of the story in the books to take the story to the next level. If King fans would stop screaming about what is not in the movie and realize that what is in the movie is pretty good, then maybe they could relax enough to enjoy it.

For the first time ever I am going to have to say that THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW. Read at your own risk.

Let me lay this out for you as simply as I can so that everyone understands what is going on here. The Dark Tower book series is a series of nine books that Stephen King started writing in 1982. It is 4,250 pages of an intricate story expertly woven together by one of the most talented authors of all-time. And not one word of it figures into the plot line of The Dark Tower movie. As soon as Stephen King fans figured that out, they went crazy.

But what should really be happening is that King fans should be rejoicing because this movie is the foundation to a potential franchise that is going to let the books stand on their own, and continue the story into the future. In other words, the full story of The Dark Tower goes; books, movie, television series. Everything in canon (the television series was originally planned to dive into the books for stories), and everything done to perpetuate a great story.

I have not read the books, but thanks to this movie I am going to. Why? Because this movie so obviously happens after the books end that I just have to fill in that backstory. My wife has read all of the books at least once and she gave me the lowdown on the basics of the books. I am really sorry to tell everyone who is trying trash this movie that this movie is not meant to be a visual representation of any of the seven story lines in the book series.

Now let's talk about the movie itself and why it is getting panned by the critics. To understand why this movie went wrong, you have to understand the backstory behind the movie. The studio was threatening to pull funds, the director was constantly under threat of being fired, Ron Howard produced the movie and felt at times like he had to save it, and all of this chaos shows up on the screen.

The movie comes across on screen as something that was pieced together from a pile of scenes filmed by different directors. The mythology is there, but you have to really pay attention to understand it. I guess critics do not like to pay attention to movies. I don't mind movies that do not spoon-feed me everything, which I guess makes me different.

Here is what I really think of The Dark Tower; it is a scattershot of plot devices that are loosely (but barely effectively) held together by a story that does remain intact from beginning to end. The problem is that the movie never takes the time to expand on important parts of the plot to make them more comfortable when the finale starts to kick in. In other words, the movie does not set itself up very well for the big finish, but it also does not totally fail to clue you in on what is going on.

This movie is supposed to tell the story of what happened after the books ended. It looks like it is the first in what was supposed to be a series of movies that pick up the story of Roland the Gunslinger and take that story to its conclusion. But thanks to a coordinated effort by critics and King hardcore fans to ruin the movie before it even gets a chance to get off the ground, the sequels will probably get shelved. The television series is supposed to use material from the books, but now that could change. We can only wait and see.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III loves movies and loves the drive-in. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at