I’m a massive fan of Stephen King and although I don’t plan to watch IT (I’m not a fan of horror films) I have seen The Dark Tower adaptation. When I heard that The Dark Tower was finally being turned into a film I was excited… and apprehensive. Stephen King’s adaptations have an infamously chequered history. Some like The Green Mile, Carrie, It and The Shawshank Redemption (credited by some as the perfect film) are spectacular. Others such as Maximum Overdrive, Cell and The Graveyard Shift are complete misfires. Where does The Dark Tower lie on this spectrum?
Mild spoilers for The Dark Tower book series and The Dark Tower 2017 film.
Idris Elba’s acting is brilliant and he brings the character of Roland to life. The action scenes are fantastic and the costumes design of each character, most notably The Man in Black and The Gunslinger, are spectacular. If you’ve read the book series then this film, as well as adapting the events of the first novel The Gunslinger also serves as a clever sequel and prequel to the series of novels. (Yes, you read that right).
*Sigh* I hate to be the guy that whines such and such isn’t like the source material but… if you made me read the books and then watch the film with the titled removed and character’s names changed I wouldn’t be able to link the two. The film was meant to be a launching pad for a cinematic universe of The Dark Tower (which is a brilliant idea in theory and something I would love to watch) but the writers made the fatal decision to cram plot lines from several books into one film while excluding key characters. The film feels rushed with part of the plot being unresolved and several scenes tacked on.
The Dark Tower has had a long and troubled history on the big screen. In 2007 JJ Abrams (the writer of Lost and later the screenwriter of Star Wars Episode Seven The Force Awakens) was attached to the project. He left in 2009 reportedly because he was scared of disappointing fans. Another version of the film was linked to Director Ron Howard and although rumours of casting and filming dates were announced there was financial issues and the project once again stalled. This led to the current incarnation of the film which again led to more issues. When Idris Elba was cast as Roland the Gunslinger, people took issue due to his skin colour. Many fans saw the character of Roland as caucasian and thought Elba was a bad fit. Ironically Elba’s acting skills is arguably the best thing about the film. The Dark Tower was shown to test audiences who described it as “messy” and “confusing” leading to expensive reshoots which didn’t solve these problems. It was at this point the film’s marketing was quietly released as the unfavourable reviews washed in.
There is some hope for the franchise. It’s unclear if a sequel is in the works or if a series of Dark Tower films will be made but Marvel have expressed interest in creating a prequel to The Dark Tower. This would be in the form of a TV show on Netflix. Marvel have previously published a comic series set in the Dark Tower universe and reportedly have Stephen King’s blessing.
If you walk into a screening of this film expecting a faithful adaptation you’ll be sorely disappointed but if you’re expecting an under average Sci Fi film then you’ll enjoy this… maybe?
Have you seen The Dark Tower and if so what did you think? What’s your favourite Stephen King novel or film? Leave your answers down below or on my social media, please like and share this post if you feel like it deserves it and I’ll see you next time.