SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK SERIES
I am late to the party… again. But this time I have an excuse: I was reading.
When The Dark Tower trailer dropped a few weeks ago, I was still reading the book series the movie will be based upon, written by Stephen King. Since I didn’t want any spoilers for the books, I put off watching the trailer until I was finally done reading the series. Past weekend I managed to finish The Dark Tower after which I was more than excited to watch the trailer of the upcoming movie because I’d heard a lot of people praise it. So I went to YouTube, pressed the play button, and sat there watching the two minute and fifty-five-second clip. After that little while, I stared at my screen filled with disappointment.
Before watching the trailer, I thought that it would’ve been a continuation of the story, as I had heard a couple of months before the release. Now after having seen the trailer, I think that it’s just a very different retelling of the books, or indeed a continuation: starting where the book ended, namely back in the beginning. If they do that, it’s probably just for more creative freedom. It seems like they are cramming in multiple books into one movie while leaving out some key characters and also changing character motivations. It really feels like they didn’t even read the books, or have just re-written the script of someone who has read the books multiple times. The writing on its own doesn’t entirely feel right. The overlaying dialogue tries to be deep but just fails to get that deeper message across, because it’s all straightforward. But let’s talk about the trailer in more detail.
On top of the list of things I want to discuss is the tone., which they completely got wrong. This feels like a generic, simplified version of the books that had multi-layered, realistic characters and a complex story. The film looks more like an ordinary young adult action flick rather than a slow western, with bursts of tension. As I’ve said before: I have the feeling that they’re going to cram in all the seven books into one two-hour film. “Why do I think that?”, you could ask yourself. Well, because they’ve already cast and confirmed Tirana, who’ll be one of the villains of the film. Tirana makes her first appearance in the seventh book. Cramming the seven books into one film will definitely make the story less complex and engaging. By making the film less complex, they also make the film more accessible, which gives the film a wider audience and that’s good for the studio because wider audience means more money. Another cause of cramming the series into one film is that it’ll have a rushed story, under which the film will probably suffer. But remember that this is just a speculation, I could be totally wrong. The characters are also pretty off. It already starts with Roland, played by Idris Elba – more on that casting choice later -, who needs the motivation of Jake to continue his quest to reach The Dark Tower. I found that to be a weird part in the trailer, since looking for the tower is the key element of Roland’s character. Even if it takes place after the book and he gets sent to the beginning again, then I’d think that this would still lay in the core of his character, yet here we have to watch Jake who seems to be encouraging Roland to do the one thing that he lives for in the books. I really hope that in context the scene will make more sense. Elba’s also not the right pick for Roland. I really like the previous work of Elba and think that he’s an amazing actor, but he’s just not the one to play Roland. Roland’s in the book described as someone who looks like The Man with No Name, from the Sergio Leone trilogy, which means that Roland’s supposed to be white. Now if that was only the case, I wouldn’t have minded the change of skin color, but in the books, there’s more than just a description. There you also have Susannah; a black woman out of the 60’s who has also already been cast to star in the film. Between her and Roland there’s racial tension, which plays a big part in the books, something we won’t be getting in this adaptation it seems. I am not saying that Idris Elba won’t act well; I’m just saying that the character he’ll be playing won’t entirely be Roland Deschain.
I do like the casting of The Man in Black, played by Matthew McConaughey. He seems menacing and has the appearance of what I thought the Man in Black would look like. I am still a bit skeptical with the actor, who’ll be portraying Jake, but in the trailer, he’s given some good bits, which is giving me hope and he too looks like he was described in the books.
Now that I’ve made clear that I think that this film probably won’t be a faithful/good adaptation of the books, how does it look from a more technical standpoint? Out of that standpoint, it looks fairly decent. Production wise it looks really good. The special effects look realistic and the sets to feel real. They managed to create a good interpretation of mid-world. Directing wise though it seems to be lacking a bit and so does the script. I have some faith in the director, Nikolaj Arcel, who has previously made some good movies, like A Royal Affair. The screenplay though is less promising. While Nikolaj has helped writing it, there were still three other writers involved, including the one responsible for The Amazing Spiderman 2 and another writer has previously written The Davinci Code, two not so great films. The pieces of dialogue that we got were too “on the nose” and lacked subtlety, but they are passable. I hope that the film will be part one of a longer series and that they build a franchise rather than put everything into one film.
Now, what do I think the film will turn out like? Like a generic summer blockbuster that’s fun to watch with friends, but doesn’t really require any thinking. It looks like a decent movie, just not like a decent Dark Tower movie, which is a shame, since there was so much potential.
Here’s a link to the trailer:
Images via: IMDb