**warning no spoilers will be given, but I have read all 8 books**
Let’s pretend this book adaptation is a fictional cake replica making contest. In front of Sony executives is two tables, one already has a beautiful, majestic, gorgeous, 8 tiered tower Dark Black Wedding Cake . The other table is empty but next to it is a kitchen filled with every single ingredient you need to try and replicate that cake to the best of your abilities. You have about a decade to replicate this cake. And go! Instead of even going into the kitchen, the Sony executives walk up to the empty table, take their dicks out, and flop them menacingly on the table, and shout, “Here is your cake assholes!” That, ladies and gentlemen, is THE DARK TOWER film adaptation.
I have read all 8 Stephen King novels that have The Dark Tower in the title or relates directly to it. I have read every single Stephen King novel in existence, all the ones that indirectly reference The Dark Tower in some way. So you may say there was no way to please me, especially since I know every nook and cranny of Stephen King’s fictional universe. That isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of books that are very nice companions with their movies: Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, Angels & Demons to name a few. Even the worst adaptations, like Percy Jackson, every single Twilight film, etc. have some light in the shitty mess of a darkness that plagues my mind to no end. With The Dark Tower film, there isn’t even a shred of light, it is completely devoid of soul.
And I even had half my mind set away to view the movie as a film lover who had never read any of the novels, let alone a Stephen King book, and even then I thought the film had no soul. The film is a 95 minute circle jerk where too many powers at be were arguing on what the adaptation should contain and should not contain. Should we cater to an audience who has never read any of the books or should this book be fan service? Even though I think The Dark Tower series is unfilmable and should just be a movie in a constant readers mind, I do feel that there was a way to do both. Nope, all that is tossed completely out the window for a new story that completely strips away most elements of the novels and takes only a handful of service thing to speak to a general audience in general terms.
Thinking like everyone else, this should’ve been a HBO or Showtime series, doing each book in a 8 to 10 episode arc, for seven to eight seasons, and then walk away. You can’t do The Dark Tower in 95 minutes. It is impossible. Even as a movie for a general audience, the film is soulless and rushed. There is no character development, no time to develop relationships. The journey is too compact, with no time to breathe. They say that this new film is supposed to be a sequel to the books (don’t worry, I don’t reveal much here just speak in briskly in code), with Roland possessing the Horn of Eld at the beginning of the film. Okay, that’s fine…WHERE IS THE FUCKING HORN? Oh, is that a horn on Roland’s backpack? Okay…thanks for barely showing it to us…
The only thing that is good about the film is the casting. Idris Elba (even though Roland is supposed to be white in the books, because his race is a plot point in later novels with a character that was not introduced here, but like Johnny Storm in rebooted Fantastic Four, I could honestly care less) is a good (could’ve been great if they dialogue was not shitty) Roland, Matthew McConahalright alright alright was a pretty good Men In Black (would’ve been great with a better screenplay) and the kid that plays Jake Chambers was good as well. They aren’t even much of characters though, because like I said, the compacted 95 minutes lets no time for the movie to find any kind of footing. The acting is the best thing about the film, everything else is complete and utter garbage.
The film feels like a cheap Sci-Fi Channel made for television movie. The effects suck, the production design sucks, the direction and action sucks, just a big bowl of What The Fuck soup. I could nitpick the differences between series and film adaptations all day (such as the portal doors being too futuristic and not just a cool little wooden door in the middle of nowhere) but I’m not going to do that here because my review would be novel size long. But there is one thing that I want to talk about, because it effects my dislike for the film the most. The fact that they take the center of attention of the story away from Roland and put it on Jake Chambers. The Dark Tower is and was always supposed to be Roland’s story with supporting characters helping him along the way. Taking it away from him (Idris doesn’t even show up until 15 minutes into the film) is a crime beyond all imagination. They could’ve still told their new awful story with Jake still being a side character, but nope, general audience are likely to connect with a kid and not Roland (not true if you’ve read the books.)
Why am I still writing? What I really should be doing is starting to re read all 8 novels and form my own perfect movie in my mind and forget this abomination ever exists. I pray that Stephen King’s IT adaptation is better (the R rating and 2 hr 15 minutes runtime helps, and the fact that it is only part 1 of 2; Dark Tower is a shitty PG-13) but now I’m going to enter IT being cautiously optimistic after this apocalypse. This is literally a shit cake, with barely some sprinkles of fan service on top, where the sprinkles ultimately get sucked into the shit frosting, never to be seen again. The Dark Tower is one of the worst films of the year and the worst adaptation of Stephen King’s work, even Maximum Overdrive. Good riddance.