I’m a huge Stephen King fan. He’s the primary reason I started writing and the sole reason I started reading.
Misery remains one of my favorite movies and It is far and away my favorite book of all time. I read everything the man puts out. Most of the time, I’m pleased. Every now and then, I am not.
But let’s take a minute to just address his passive and nearly flippant attitude towards what director Nikolaj Arcel has just done to The Dark Tower.
When the movie had wrapped and King was allowed to view it, he sent an e-mail to Arcel and his crew. In it, he stated: “You have remembered the faces of your fathers.” (Sacred words to those of us that know the series).
This is the same man that, to this day, expresses distaste over Kubrik’s The Shining. His biggest grievance was that Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in an iconic role) was too different in the movie—that he started off slightly unhinged from the start, making his transition into crazy a lot less dramatic. This is absolutely true and I agree…though I think The Shining is a terrific movie. Jack’s built-in looniness, I think, sets you up from the start; you know something bad is going to happen from the get-go.
So King does not like Kubrik’s The Shining because the lead character was portrayed differently than he was written in the novel.
But he gave Arcel a thumb’s-up on the Dark Tower adaption.
Because Roland is almost completely different in the movie than he appears on the book.
In the book, Roland is borderline scraggly. I am pretty sure there a few scenes near the beginning where he’s described as nearly waifish (going from memory…could be wrong). He’s a quiet and burdened man worn out by trekking across a world moved on. And while the whole race-switch in the casting does not bother me (until we see how things with Susannah plays out…if they play out at all), it has to be said that Roland does not seem like Roland without those blue bombardier eyes that seem to highlight his character in the books. He also certainly does not look as well-built as Idris Elba.
And I’m pretty sure he never jumped from a ledge onto another platform like he was Batman. Or kicked a guy into a wall and made it crack and shatter.
Roland Deschain is not a super hero. But, you know…there’s a formula to these summer blockbusters, apparently…
More than the physical, there’s the psychological elements that were also drastically changed. In the book, Roland is driven almost mad with his obsession to reach the Dark Tower. In the movie, not so much. He just wants to kill Walter. He’s no longer chasing after a mythical thing that looms over his life like a god…a thing he as dedicated his life and his purpose to. Nope…now he just wants revenge. And that cheapens his character to nothing more than a basic cardboard cut out of every action movie character ever penned.
Also…The Dark Tower is Roland’s story. Not Jake’s. But I guess a charming run-of-the-mill teenage kid is a bigger draw for a PG-13 popcorn flick. And this shows right away that Arcel did not care for a dedicated fan base or staying true to the source material. He just wanted to tell the story in the laziest, cheapest way possible. He was given the keys to a mansion and wasted his time (and ours) by trying to crack a lock on some old abandoned mobile home.
Lots of fans will argue that maybe all of these changes in plot, character, structure, motivation, and flow was because this movie was technically a sequel to the books. Another turn of the wheel.
I’m tired of that excuse being used to justify what was, at its heart, an okay action movie at best…but a wretched adaption of excellent source material. If this is the case for the changes and alterations and an absolutely lazy script, then it was a turn of the wheel that should have never been written.
You know it’s bad news when a TV spin-off of the movie has already been planned before the movie is even released. It’s a sure sign that this is a desperate attempt by Sony to copy what Marvel is doing and what DC is trying to do in terms of cinematic universes. The actual story within the books (and any imagined stories beyond them) was never at the front of minds of King, Arcel, or Sony. It was always the grander picture, the abundance of dollar signs and possible staying power of a franchise…even if that franchise is off to a very bad start.
This movie has taken some of King’s best writing and my favorite literary series and turned it into nothing more than a blatant cash grab, pulled ahead by the steam engine that is King’s name.
And the fact that King gave this is seal of approval…well, it makes me think he’s forgotten the face of his father.
And it makes me very afraid that he also has high words of praise for the It adaption.
Though, let’s be honest, the Dark Tower trailers looked weak from the start…and It looks pretty solid. Maybe because sai King was not involved in the process?
After all, he’s not the best when it comes to his cinematic opinions.
See the example of The Shining above—and Maximum Overdrive. And Cat’s Eye, and Sleepwalkers…