3 December 2017

The Faulty Tower

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The Dark Tower tells the story of a teenaged boy whose parents are worried about the fact that he's constantly having strange dreams about a huge tower and a man with a big gun. No guesses as to what all that symbolises. Rather than accepting their son's obviously repressed homosexuality however they decide to send him to a psychiatrist. Or maybe it's because of his obviously repressed homosexuality that they've decided to send him there? This is America after all! I should point out that at no point does the film actually deal with the issue of homosexuality in any way, shape, or form. But if the kid came to me and explained that dream to me then I don't think I'd be blamed for giving him a pat on the back, telling him that it doesn't matter, and then hoofing him out the door for an impromptu holiday to Brighton. Anyway - so the kid's dreams come true, he travels through a magical portal into a far away world, Idris Elba protects him from monsters, and Matthew McConaughey tries to get him to scream down a tower that's protecting our planet from a demon attack. You'll notice that I didn't add “and he got the girl” in there. Hmm...

So the film is essentially a cross between Time Bandits, For A Few Dollars More and with the feel of The Maze Runner... but nowhere near as good as that sounds. But nor is it as bad as some of the reviews might make you believe either. In fairness, it probably helped that I saw The Hitman's Bodyguard the day before which was so terrible that before its credits had rolled I could feel my brain turn to mush and start leaking out of my own fucking ears. So coupled with that experience and the critical shit-kicking that The Dark Tower has had, I went in with expectations so low that unless the film featured the reanimated corpses of my dead loved ones, I'd probably be okay with it. In fairness too, I should mention that I haven't read any of the Stephen King books from the franchise in which this film is based. I tend not to read books that are having films made out of them because as I discovered with Casino Royale, it's essentially like reading one massive fucking spoiler. Now just give me a second to turn the volume of the music I'm listening to up as I need something to drown out the sound of every dead author as they spin in their graves.

The other reason that I tend not to read books that are being adapted into movies is that I don't want to become one of those pricks that say “well, it wasn't as good as the book”. When they say that, what they're really saying is that the film they saw on screen wasn't the same as the film they'd directed in their own heads, and pointing that fact out makes them think that they're smarter than the filmmakers and therefore smarter than they actually probably are. However, by all accounts, this film adaptation of The Dark Tower is nowhere near as good as its source material which I've heard described as Stephen King's masterpiece. So I can only imagine that the really hateful reviews of this film were written by people who have a better understanding of how important the original books are and therefore how much of a missed opportunity this film is. For me, and without that context, I just saw The Dark Tower as a fairly below average movie with both some pretty interesting things in it and also some pretty fucking dull things too. Although being as this is supposed to tie all of King's work together, I got through most of the dull things by playing 'Where's Wally' with the easter eggs. “Oh look”, I thought, “there's the car from Christine, the hotel from The Shining, the number from 1408, and everything's just a little bit shit like in Dreamcatcher”.

For me, the biggest problem is that the film was only ninety minutes long, which was nowhere near enough time to explain all of the bollocks that was going on whilst still giving the characters time to come to life. Being a fantasy movie, the bulk of the exposition is pure gibberish about the 'flin-flans bamfing to the giant fungal worms inside  the great planet butt-plug' which means just about fuck all to me. However, because the film is so short, it literally has to sprint from plot point to set-piece like a tramp trying to out-run a hungry crack-head on bath salts. So the story made basically no sense and the characters were so ridiculously thin that even Christian Bale's character in The Machinist would feel the need to go out and buy them a fucking pasty. The worst affected by this is Matthew McConaughey whose performance is so wooden that I started to wonder if they'd accidentally cast the fucking bookcase from Interstellar by mistake. His evil 'Man in black', is given so little personality and back story that he could literally be replaced by a sign that says “I'm a massive wanker” and you'd get the basic point. Beyond the fact that he has a distractingly shit hair-cut, I honestly couldn't tell you anything else about him. At one point Idris Elba's character shoots him in the back of the head with him catching the bullet in his fingers before it can make contact. But had it actually made contact I suspect that he was wearing so much fucking hairspray that the bullet still would have ricocheted off and left him unharmed.

And speaking of Idris Elba, it's worth noting that he's continuing his unfaltering dedication to his slightly odd career choice of generally being the best thing in a below average movie. Big 'Dris plays The Gunslinger Roland who could easily spend the movie by being a giant walking cliché if it wasn't for his sheer lack of distrust of the kid. He's the Logan-esque lone-wolf who's good at protecting himself but suddenly forced to look after a child too. However, the film slightly subverts this by having the two bond fairly well which leads to a kind of older brother-style friendship between them and skips the usual first hour of unfriendly gruffness. Although I did read that after the film was screened it received such low test scores that an extra six million dollars was spent on re-shoots to expand the Roland character. Which can only make me question how fucking little there was for Elba to work with originally because there's still basically fuck all there now. It's like looking at a slightly shitty Go-Kart and finding out that hundred of pounds were spent on it after the original designs were considered to be inadequate and you're left thinking, “well what did you have originally? Two fucking wheels and a cornflake box?!”.

Having said all that, the film moved at such a speed and was over so quickly that although I didn't give a fuck about it, nor did I find myself ever getting bored. This is a film that's been long in the making, with the original plans being to release several films with television series released in between to fill the gaps. However bearing in mind how much I found this film tried to explain away, and how little it actually made sense.. and considering how pissy the fans of the book are being, I think most people are in agreement that perhaps the entire series should have simply been an HBO-style mini-series in the first place. Not only would this have given the time needed to expand on the characters, world, and story, it'd be nice to give all the fans of Game Of Thrones something else in that vein to enjoy. I myself am yet to start watching Game Of Thrones and so it'd have been nice for me to just have those already into the show something else to fucking talk about for once. The Dark Tower isn't the worst adaptation of a Stephen King book but I reckon even Matthew McConaughey would struggle to find it any more than just alright, alright, alright... Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers.

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