I was lucky enough to get into an advance showing of The Dark Tower yesterday. I had a great time, but fair warning: if you are going to see it expecting it to follow The Dark Tower series, it sort of does, but it mostly doesn’t. It’s like the film makers viewed the books as a general direction, rather than a specific set of scenes and story arcs, but hey, how could they make a 2-hour movie out of thousands and thousands of pages? If you go into it knowing that the movie is fun and interesting. If it has to be just like the books for you, you probably will not like it. It’s an adaptation, rather than a series made into a movie.
Okay, you’ve been warned.
Here are the things I loved:
- Roland’s abilities — Played by Idris Elba (which may seem like a strange choice, but Idris pulls it off like he was born into the role), Roland’s fight scenes are fun and interesting. In the novel’s Roland has trained his hands to automatically reload his revolvers so he can do it without thinking. In the film, there is a little more to it than physical training, but it works. It works well. Probably because of the special treatment Walter’s magics got…
- Walter’s magics — The Man in Black is played by Matthew McConaughey, and the man adds a layer of evil to Walter that is almost too much. Almost. In the film, Walter’s magics are more immediate, more blatant, and far less subtle than in the books, but like the addition to Roland’s abilities, it just works in the film. I sort of found myself wishing for the bad guys to screw up so Walter would kill them (or make them kill each other) — it was that cool. McConaughey pulls the magic casting off as if it were old hat, as if the power Walter wields is something he’s used every day of his life.
- Jake’s shine — and yes, they call it “shining” in the film, a nod towards The Shining and Doctor Sleep. For the most part, Jake dreams, but once he gets to Midworld and learns a thing or two, the whole esp thing really takes off. The effects were cool, if maybe not completely unexpected.
- The Taheen — yeah, they are there, and they are done with awesome special effects. The costuming and digital effects make these hybrids look real. I love how the special effects team pulled off the “loose skin” thing.
Here are the things I didn’t love:
- Everything being condensed into 2 hours — It felt rushed. Supergirl went along, and she’s never read the books. Her comment was that there were a lot of things she missed out on, because she didn’t have all those pages to fall back on. Some of the things are pretty crucial–like what the Dark Tower is and why these two guys are fighting over it.
- The doors — In the film it was a little too easy to travel between worlds. If you can put in your ATM code, then you’re golden as long as you know where the machine-based doors are (and evidently they are all over the place). I didn’t like leaving off the magical doors all together — one scene was weakened a great deal, IMO, by this omission.
- Eddie and Susan (Detta/Odetta) aren’t in it — Yeah. I know, but they aren’t in it. What can a guy do?
- Major Spoiler!! I didn’t like the portrayal of Roland having abandoned the Gunslinger creed. At all. I can see why they did it, but I still hate it.
Overall, I’d go see this if I were you. If you are a hard core Dark Tower fan, manage your expectations and go enjoy it. It’s a fun, well-acted, well-directed movie with a high production value. It’s worth the price of admission.
Having said all that… I walked into the theater and ordered a small drink.
“$6.15,” said the pimply guy behind the counter.
My brain skipped a beat. $6.15? For a SMALL drink?
Then he handed me the rain-barrel cup.
Even so, $6.15?? After paying $27.00 to get in the door??