I have to admit. I am not a fan of works of fantasy. Most of them consists of endless number of books that are more interested in world building than to tell an exciting or concise story.
I know, that is a pretty back handed complaint. I am sure many of them are worthy of a long time investment and a big sore ass from reading them lying on my shitty couch.
So I figured since I already spend most of my time lying on my ass on my shtty couch reading Stephen King books collecting sores I might actually give his longwinded sweeping epic fantasy series a chance.
I don´t regret that. But I will have to describe some of my previous attitudes towards literature. Before I read King I read mostly hardbioled crime fiction. Elmore Leonard. Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, James Ellroy and so forth. I had a very specifc demand on story telling. Plot was everything. That was what I used to think mattered. And I was somewhat wrong. In the hands of a writer with a vivid imagination it can really open your mind when you let things breathe. King is the type of writer who uses a lot of internal psychology , digressions in story using flashbacks and a lot of descriptive words to flesh out the world and the characters and would have left a lot of my favourite writers shaking their head at. He spends time with people and the world.
His prose is perfect for worldbuilding.
I immediately learned to love his style because it has heart. I read a lot of prose hardboiled ones, that are mostly cynical. But King is a humanist at heart. He understands people on a fundamental level I never thought a human being could do since Dostojevskij.. When he wrote The Dead Zone he saw the flaws in human nature that could give rise to a political monster like Donald Trump.
His horror stories may be about monsters. But mostly the ones that are closest to us. He shies not away from difficult issues or situations and that is why people respind to him
The Dark Tower is his magnum opus that collects not only a lot of his previous works, but also on a meta-level descripts on a deeper level how much stories means to us people. Which brings us to a bunch of people responsible who has no idea what the idea of story is or what it should mean. To them it is just a three act structure. The deeper meaning of the human condition has no meaning. The monsters lack all kind of meaning. What is left is a shell made by robots. Shame of you. You shoudl really be ashamed of yourselves.
About the actual film:
A young teenager ,Jake Chambers, has nightmares surrounding some imagery about a big Tower. He is being put through therapy as his parents thinks he is crazy. Earthquakes happens because in another world we get to see how children are forced into machinery that shoots out beams to hit the tower Jake is dreaming about. Jake visualizes a house of great importances and finds a portal to a world in which he finds a Gunslinger whom he also has imagined in his dreams. Together they form a journey. The gunslinger, Roland is hunting a man in black who killed his father. The Man in Black as we find out is also responsible for the ongoing destruction of the Tower. Somehow Jake wants to save the Tower. Blablabla....
It has been a well documented troubled production. A lot of people have been involved in trying to bring Kings work into fruition for a number of years. The end result is a by-the-numbers action/sci-fi/fantasy adventure that has the emotion of desert sand. It is so dry and uninspired, which is a shame as the product has a lor of promise.
It lacks pretty much anything worthwhile from the books. The heart is gone and is replaced by a generic three act structure that nobody would be impressed with. A script that is heavily underdeveloped and is barely saved by the editing and some performances.
The lacklustre budget does not help. It is clear that this did not have the financial backing it deserved. For instance, the aftermath of the Jericho Hill battle is barely portryaed beyond a couple of corpses. And the few impressive effect sequenzes are restricted to similar beam explosions to the tower to signal the deadline-type of urgency that is so painfully familiar to the shittiest of screenwriters.
It seems the climax is where the attention has been targeted at as it is not the tiresome bloated CGI-fests of Marvel/Dc but actually a fun and well constructed gunfight in which the elaborate skills of the Gunslinger Roland really gets shown. It ends with a funny schlocky Magic Vs Bullets showdown of Resident Evil-proportions as Roland and The Man in Black clash. It is pure unadultered pulpy schlock and that is the only sequence that is worthy of mentioning. Maybe that sequence should have been more prevalent in the rest of the film. At least the Gunslingers abilities could have been utilized more.
I did not hate it as much as a lot of people has. I don´t think it is as terrible as some think, just generic. But that might be the problem. It lacks heart Any heart of the Stephen King novels that I learned to love is gone, At least you wont have to wore out your ass in the couch as I did when I read the books when you catch it on Netflix as it is only 90 minutes long.
The Dark Tower has not forgotten the face of its father, it is just a simpleminded stepchild who never even knew the face of his biological father.
A shame. A goddamn shame.