THE DARK TOWER has forgotten the face of its father.

Let me take you behind the curtain just a bit, dear reader. When reviewing films and shows for Comicsverse, there is something that our comic and culture compatriots don’t have the “pleasure” of dealing with as much as we do. That something is source material. The comics section is lucky in that sense, as more often than not, they don’t have to weigh the comic against what it’s an adaptation of, and determine whether or not it properly translated the story.

The Dark Tower

We here in the TV/Film section have to do that constantly, as a lot of films and tv shows these days are direct adaptations of something else. And we understand that. Directors and screenwriters completely have the right to change, manipulate and edit what they see fit to create the story they want to tell. And sometimes it comes out great: Marvel’s MCU is doing well, the CW’s The Flash is fun to watch, FX’s Legion is brilliant! However, there are times when a story gets so spun out of control that it barely resembles what inspired it. The Dark Tower movie is one of those stories.

READ: Want to read about why IT should be adapted into a graphic novel? Click Here!

This isn’t The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower isn’t a direct adaptation or a retelling of Stephen King’s wonderful novels. The Dark Tower film, in fact, is a continuation of the novel’s story.  In that sense, one can understand why the movie changed so much. They changed Roland from a white man to a black man.  They removed three of the main protagonists in Eddie Dean, Oy and Susanah Holmes. (Which in turns makes Roland’s portrayal by Idris Elba a non-factor. No Susanah, no racial tension between her and Roland). The film doesn’t mention the novel’s main antagonists, The Crimson King and his/Roland’s/demon woman’s son Mordred. With all of that changed, among countless other changes, this film still had a chance to successfully tell the next chapter of Roland’s story. But the people in Hollywood decided The Dark Tower wasn’t Roland’s story anymore. It was Jake’s.

The Dark Tower

Throughout the novels one thing is clear. The story is about Roland trying to reach the Dark Tower at all costs. The film changed that. The film made The Dark Tower Jake’s story. By changing the main character from Roland to Jake, there is a fundamental shift in what the story is about.  Instead of Roland trying to reach The Dark Tower, we get a story about a semi-clairvoyant child. One of those is The Dark Tower, the other is not.

The start of a new franchise?

One of the truly bothersome aspects of this film is the loss of potential. Stephen King’s universe is one that is rich. It is filled with intricacies, detail, and nuances.  The Dark Tower film has none of that. It barely scrapes the surface and discounts King’s other written works that tie into the universe in favor of a bland action film. By rushing this film and creating just another run of the mill fantasy/action adventure, the people in charge really left a lot of money on the table.

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Ironically enough, the reason the film was so short is that the producers wanted to use this film to introduce the audience to King’s universe.  It’s a good idea, but why in that case rush through King’s Magnum Opus? The story stretches over seven novels. There is more than enough material there for multiple films and even a television series. The studio could have taken their time with this series, put their own spin on it, and still have vast amounts of material to use when they needed it. They could have stretched this particular sequence of books into well over a decade while exploring the rest of his works. Instead, the fruits of their half-assed labor is a movie that feels rushed, unexplored, and at times confusing, as it tries to cram information from seven novels written over three decades into a 95-page script.

The Dark Tower

Here in lies the dangers of adapting comics (of which the Dark Tower has several) and novels into films. While they both can be immeasurably enjoyable for readers and/or moviegoers, they are two very different mediums. Thus a story that works in a novel might not work in a film, and vice versa. Presumably, the traditional story of Roland trying to reach the tower isn’t something that the screenwriters thought would work. Compound that with the go ahead from King to continue the story (instead of retelling it) and you have a film that not only has forgotten the face of its father, it’s forgotten the face of everyone it’s ever known.

 

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