The Dark Tower (2017)

I didn’t hate this one.

I know some of you must think there’s something wrong with me, but what I saw was a pretty good, dimension hopping SF film, with some halfway decent monsters, some fairly good production design work, and a scary-ish villain.  Not a great film, true, but a fairly solid (and moderately entertaining) effort.

Now this is probably because my exposure to the original novels in the series is basically non-existent.  I’ve seen one comic book story, and that’s about it .

We all know Steven King wrote a whole bunch of these novels and that they have this complex mythology, a nearly endless series of important scenes, multiple realities (in some of which the Gunslinger deliberately sacrifices the kid!) and so on and so forth.   In fact, we all know what to  expect from this sort of thing:  any adaptation which would keep the fans happy will probably be incomprehensible to those of us coming in late, while a more accessible version wouldn’t live up to the fans bare minimum expectations.

As a result, the project got kicked from one director to another for a decade or so, with directors like Ron Howard (I believe he was the first) attached to it before they tossed this hot potato on to the next chump.  Nothing like a film that’s guaranteed to please no one.  In fact, one feels just a little sorry for Danish director,  Nikolaj Arcel, who is making his English language debut here (and his first Hollywood film).

As I’ve noted before, I try to judge films on their own merits, and not on the basis of how well they match the original story or my own expectations (which admittedly is easy for me in this instance!).  I knew the word of mouth had been very negative, so it came as a surprise to me to find this one reasonably good.  Idris Elba gives a powerful performance as the soul-weary Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey does an entirely reasonable job as The Man in Black:  I know some people thought he was too subdued in the role, but I’m okay with a more matter-of-fact supervillain and a bit less scenery-chewing.  It’s a small pleasure to see Fran Kranz, but only a small one as his part is so small.

I do find it mildly amusing to learn that the boy’s psychic gifts weren’t called “The Shine” in the original.  I almost wonder why Steven King didn’t call them that.  We all know it’s the same thing.

And there really isn’t much more to say than that.  It’s okay, if you’re looking for a science fiction film with heroes and villains travelling through parallel worlds.

Although you might do better with Crossworlds.  It’s close.

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