[UPDATE: If you’re here to find out what the “Good vs. Evil Edition” actually is, as compared to the movie, I don’t know. I did not see the theatrical release. My best guess at this point is that the “Good vs. Evil Edition” includes a behind-the-scenes featurette after the movie, which I did not watch.]
Mere moments ago, I finished watching The Dark Tower on FIOS-on-demand. This post will probably contain some spoilers for the movie and possibly even the books, but it’s not that bad, really.
My expectations were low. Based on one or two reviews I saw when the movie came out, I did not expect a faithful recreation of the books. At all. But I kept a completely open mind and gave the filmmakers a chance to sell me on this new idea.
The bottom line: I didn’t hate it. It even had some good scenes. I actually paid attention for the vast majority of the running time, and didn’t revert to playing a game after five minutes like I usually do when watching movies.
It was far from perfect or even great. But I would rate it a solid “not bad” which is somewhere between “meh” and “good” on my rating scale. I didn’t regret spending $5.99 on it. (Which is more than I can say for spending $4.49 for the game Necropolis, but that’s another story.)
Did we need a new vision of The Dark Tower story? No, not at all. But did they need to make significant changes to make a stand-alone movie based on The Dark Tower series? Unquestionably. Even if they tried to make a movie out of just the very first book, I don’t think it would have worked.
This vision of the story, by the way, was based almost entirely around the core thread of Roland’s and Jake’s relationship, and the effect they had on one another. Jake helped Roland return to his former glory, while Roland helped Jake … I don’t know, not feel crazy? And also not get killed. Anyway, in my opinion, they could have done a lot worse than that for a movie.
The threads surrounding that core relationship, involving The Man In Black and the plot against The Dark Tower, actually seemed like a distraction to me. I kind of wish there had been less of The Man In Black, but, you know, big paid actor, so, not much choice there.
I’m torn on whether viewers who have not read the books will be at an advantage or a disadvantage in terms of enjoying the movie. (Based on reading Roger’s review tonight, I guess a disadvantage.)
If you go into the movie expecting the books, you absolutely, positively will be disappointed. There is a lot more backstory in the books, and the rich culture and history of Mid-World is explored in far greater detail within the books. But to be honest, most of that would have been wasted on the movie. In fact I would imagine the more fantastical elements that were in the movie were the most inexplicable to viewers. They didn’t make much of effort to establish why The Dark Tower or Mid-World mattered, whereas me, as an avid reader of the books, immediately understood why it was important to save The Dark Tower. (Because there were a bunch of books about it! Duh!)
I had heard beforehand, and it was not-so-subtly hinted in the movie, that the events of the books took place prior to the events of the movie as a sort of prequel, which makes sense. It allowed me to use the rich setting of the books to fill in additional layers of meaning, without distracting from the movie’s extremely obvious deviations from the books.
This movie was essentially an origin story for The Gunslinger. The story of the return of The Gunslinger from the brink of despair, with help from Jake.
I thought the gunfight sequences were pretty well done. They weren’t like the (amazing, but too long) gun-fu sequences from John Wick. Instead, they were subtly “enhanced” by the almost magical qualities that we associate with The Gunslinger.
It drove me crazy whenever he dropped his guns, though. Come on! You’d think the mythical order of Gunslingers would have come up with some way to protect their hands better in battle.
I heard a lot of complaints about how short the movie was, but I didn’t even notice. Anything that runs more than 30 minutes is “long” to me. Maybe this “Good vs. Evil Edition” had some additional scenes, I don’t know.
On the more negative side, I have zero memory of any machines that used kids’ souls to attack the The Dark Tower. What was that all about?? I actually have very little memory of The Man In Black as a character from the books at all. Granted it’s been a good decade since I last read them. To me it was always a series about Roland and his ka-tet.
Anyway, if they make a series out of it, I’d watch it. It’s got nowhere to go but up. But given the poor showing from the movie, I’m not holding my breath. Maybe they will try to make another version in a few years. Ka is a wheel, yada yada.