All original written content is (c) 2017 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: A kid in NYC has been having (and illustrating) vivid and disturbing dreams about a weird world with a (duh) Dark Tower, a creepy white man in black (Matthew McConaughey), adults with fake skin masks, abducted kids used as a power source, and a haggard gunslinger (Idris Elba). When he finds out it’s all part of a real plot to bring down the universe, the kid and his partner must decide to either try to save everything or just get revenge on bad guy.
(NOTE: I have not read one word of the novels or comics, so this is strictly about the film as a film!)
Written by Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinker and Anders Thomas Jensen & Nikolaj Arcel, based on the novels by Stephen King. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel.
- Good job of showing the difference between the different worlds/planes of existence, fantasy/reality, that sort of thing. Each part has its own fairly distinct look and feel. Decent effects, good production design and cinematography all combine to draw you into the whole adventure.
- Casting: Idris (Heimdall in the THOR flicks) Elba is an awesome Gunslinger (aka Roland Deschain), as is his Dad, David (24, Allstate commercials) Haysbert, who’s not in it long enough. I could watch a whole series with Elba as the main character…come to think of it, he’s in one called Luther, which I’ll have to check out. (As of this review, a TV series of THE DARK TOWER has been announced with Elba reprising his role.) Tom Taylor as the troubled kid is good—not too whiny, not too obnoxious. A bonus is Jackie Earle (WATCHMEN) Haley as bad dude Sayre.
- The plot, though complicated, is still pretty easy to follow. You know who’s doing what and why for most of it, sometimes before the characters do. Plenty of suspense, thrills, a twist or two, and a definite conclusion.
- The art of the kid is good—a combination of creepy, disturbed and other-worldly, yet not too good so that it doesn’t look like he couldn’t have done it (even though it was obviously drawn by a pro).
- Great makeup effects—when the “monsters” in human guise tug at their skin-masks, it’s really effective and yucky; same when you see a couple characters not wearing them. Same goes for the gun effects—Elba’s abilities put the Lone Ranger to shame, yet you believe it because he’s from another world. And there’s a scene (also in some of the previews) of the fastest reloading of a six-shooter ever!
- The Gunslinger in New York is a lot of fun—yeah, viewers will expect the mandatory “fish-out-of-water” behavior and stuff, but the gags are still enjoyable and a couple are very clever/unexpected. (I wish there were more; hopefully in the TV series.
- Speaking of fun, there are at least two “easter eggs” worth noting: near the beginning, notice the quick shot of the toy car the one kid is playing with. At the end, read the marquee on the theater behind the characters. (I’m sure there were more but I missed ’em!)
- Though they say it three times in the flick, The Gunslinger’s creed is nicely written (which is what you should expect from Stephen King of course) and acted out.
- It took four—count ’em, four—people to write a two-hour screenplay from one guy’s eight—count ’em, eight—books! So I expected more. You get the feeling there is a ton of stuff left out just for the sake of room, and because of that, I didn’t have as much invested into the characters or situations. A lot of stuff needed more explaining, and especially how the “rules” worked for each character and world. Like f’r instance…
- The premise didn’t sit right with me. A Dark Tower stands at the center of the universe, where it’s been since the dawn of time, protecting all the worlds within a circle around it from darkness and demons. Demons, I get. But darkness? Umm, what about all the massive, burning stars and suns in that universe? Pretty sure they do decently against the darkness. How exactly can “darkness” overcome a 432,000-mile ball of plasma over a hundred times the size of earth, not to mention the estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 other stars both larger and smaller in the universe? (The Milky Way alone has 100 billion stars.) Especially when all darkness is to begin with is just an absence of light? Is the darkness from a massive black hole? If so, where is it and how did it get that way (since black holes are dead stars)? No clues provided in the movie.
- Also with the rules: the Man In Black can just say, “stop breathing” and kill someone, can stop bullets with his bare hands, slow time, etcetera, but he can’t travel between worlds without a portal. Why? The Gunslinger used bullets from earth, so if regular bullets can hurt him, what about a hammer to the head or a kick in the ass? And if there used to be a bunch of Gunslingers, why couldn’t they just surround him and shoot all at once so he couldn’t stop all the bullets?
- “Because The Script Said So” Dept.: When he finally gets grabbed by the M.I.B., the kid doesn’t struggle, try to kick him in the cojones or even yell at him. Dude, spit at him, punch him, slap him, do something other than just stand there! (And I guarantee that any kid over 10 who grew up in NYC is gonna curse out someone like that. But there’s not a single curse-word I can remember, despite the PG-13 rating.)
- Would have liked to have more backstory on The Gunslinger and especially the Man In Black (no origin or explanation given). What was the latter’s motivation for doing what he did?
- The kid’s Mom was nearly a MILF and the female security agent was hot, but o/w no hotties or hot scenes. (You’d think a dude like the Man In Black would be getting’ down in the darkness, but he cared more about capturing kids, which is really creeeeepy. And sad.)
There is room for “further adventures,” but no buttons during or after the credits; not that I was expecting any.
Despite the backlash against “franchises,” this is a perfect example of something that should have been multiple movies. I mean, eight books? Look at HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS. This could have at least been four films. Maybe there are more planned, but this one had so much in it, you just knew there was a ton left out without reading the original tales. But it’s still worth seeing just for the acting, design, effects and thrills, especially Idris Elba’s Gunslinger and his sharpshooting skills. Hopefully the TV show delivers more, without doing the opposite and drawing it out over multiple seasons longer than it needs to be.
BTW, I’m curious to see what readers of the books or comics thought—leave your opinion in the Comments section! I may pick the best one and give you a prize! (Or a free brew if we meet at a con. If you’re a hot cosplay babe, I’ll even let you pop my beer bottle!)
P.S.: How about some creepy, disturbed, other-worldly, cool or just plain wacko art for yourself? Get an ORIGINAL ART COMMISSION from Mike Pascale for 20% off! Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bru-Hed are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the Gunslingers, Keystone Earth, the white Man In Black, the white and black Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jones, Stan Lee, Stanley Steemer, Stephen King, Don King, King Vitamin and any other characters that may or may not exist inside or outside our realm. Bru would like to know what a room in the Dark Tower goes for on Airbnb (with a view of the demon realm of course).