Sirs Mikesalot Perriwinkle Ee-bock and Patricia Cornhole Hairy Son are a pair of fine writers. They come up with fantastical stories, beautifully and authentically written. Their stories and characters are believable even when they are so fantastical that you’d normally dismiss the notion outright. Such is the power of their prose.
So much so that they have manufactured an outright fiction that neither Lovecraft nor Machen before him could have conjured: the idea that I, the noble and dashing Chris Miller, liked the Dark Tower movie.
I can hear your chortles in harmony with my own. Ridiculous, isn’t it? There are even memes being generated online, not unlike a big studio campaign for its next summer blockbuster movie. There are stories about me saying I loved the movie, that I thought it was the best thing ever, all of it. And yet, for such a ridiculous notion, it somehow lives on.
The Dark Tower had already been out a couple of years by the time I finally saw it. I always said it should have been either a series of very long movies, or serialized into a TV show on one of the premium streaming services to do it right. When I realized they had taken the WHOLE series and melted it down into a single 90-minute experience, I wasn’t thrilled. I understand that the movie is meant as a sequel to the books, and with the circular nature of the series, I thought this could work in its favor for whatever necessary changes they had to make, but not trying to mash it all into an hour and a half. Once I saw that, I was turned completely off. But, my son wanted to see it, and I have a macabre sort of curiosity, so I picked up the blu-ray for $5 online. When it came in, me and the kids popped it in and watched. My daughter hated it (even without reading any of the books), but my son thought it was cool (mostly the slow motion bullet/action sequences).
But what did I think?
I said at the time, and I’ll say it again here: As an adaptation of existing material, it was pure shit. BUT, as ‘just a movie’, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen worse. Read the words. Know them. Understand them. I’ve seen worse doesn’t mean it was good in any way. Like, sticking my hand in dogshit would be bad, right? But you know what? I’d rather stick my hand in dogshit than into a river of molten lava. Wouldn’t you agree? Dogshit will wash off, but with lava, you won’t have a hand to wash off (and let’s not even get into the physics of what would happen to your lungs or skin being so close to bright red lava that you could stick your hand in there, it’s just an analogy). Yet, somehow, this has translated into The Dark Tower being my very favorite movie simply because it isn’t my most loathed.
So, even though the movie is a total mess, it does have some decent production quality in parts. Not all the way through. It’s incredibly uneven. Idris does a good job as Roland, but has little to do. Matthew as the Man in Black should have been utterly brilliant, but somehow he just wasn’t. Wasn’t even good, honestly, and he’s a great actor. Maybe it was the directing, maybe he was high, but he seemed completely lost the whole time and no one would tell him how to get home.
It was sad, really. There’s so much great material there to adapt, much of it ripe for cinematic interpretation, but it falls flat on every front. I think most of the hard core hate for the movie comes from the love the series has, how people had to follow it for around 30 years to finally see it come to its conclusion (well, not really a conclusion, but you get it), and so they had a certain expectation in their minds of what it ought to look like on screen.
The movie doesn’t even come close to that.
All of this said, have I seen movies that are worse? Yes. Yes, I have. Ed Wood made a string of them, and while they do have the benefit of unintentional humor, I think we all agree that TDT had a much more competent production, even with all its problems). The old Crawling Hand with Michael Caine. Jaws The Revenge (Jesus H. Christ). There are some real stinkers out there, and while The Dark Tower has certainly earned its place amongst them, it’s hardly at the very bottom of the pile. That is not to say I enjoyed it (Mikesalot and Patricia, I can see you plotting!), but merely taking a more realistic view of the movie (it cannot be called a film). It’s hated because the books are so loved. Were there no books, people would still have disliked the movie, but the psychotic vehemence with which they despise it would be absent. That’s a fact.
That’s. A. Fact.
So, that’s the true story. Patrica and Mikesalot are funny little fuckers, but they’re selling you “Fake News” here, and I feel it my civic duty to inform the public that you are being had.
Guys, I love ya. Now get bent.
Chris Miller 10-17-2020