Hey, Charlottesville. I hear you’re having a bad day. I know you pretty well, and I want you to know that, though the world is looking at you today and normally is content to ignore you, I know you’re a friendly, small city in one of the most beautiful regions of the United States, and you’re a beacon of culture, art, and enlightenment, and you’re trying to be a good home for a lot of different people with different stories and different ideas.
And that’s not an easy thing to do.
Much of that is why some of the worst of humanity is there today. You see, they don’t like you. They want to hurt you. They aren’t content to be a part of something great. To them, it is not great unless they dominate it.
But I want you to know that I know they are not you. I know that, today, this is not you at your worst. Today is us at our worst, and it just so happens to have found its way to you.
I’m really sorry about that and wish I could do something. Today, all I can really do is watch to make sure you make it through all right, and when you do, I want you to know I still love you.
I just got back from seeing The Dark Tower. I’m a stewer. When I see a film, I generally can’t talk about it immediately afterward. I have to let it stew in my mind awhile. When my wife asked me what I thought about it, I found I had fairly instant thoughts on where the film succeeds and where it fails.
[This review is spoiler-free, by the way.]
It’s been years since I read the books, and to be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love the core story, what Stephen King was trying to do, but ultimately, I think the series is flawed in several major ways. So I was eager to see a reimagining that wasn’t a strict adaptation. I was excited to see a story using those core elements without having to conform to the original narrative.
That’s what we have with the film, and if you want to read more about my thoughts on all of that, click here.
The reason I bring this up is to give you a point of reference on my expectations. I take no issue with the film deviating from the source material. In fact, I welcome it. And all of that stuff, the faithfulness, the adherence to the original story, let’s pack that up and set it aside for now. Let’s just talk about The Dark Tower film as a film on its own.
I enjoyed it. Ultimately, though, I’m disappointed.
The Dark Tower film adaptation comes out this Friday, and while there’s a general buzz about a cool-looking film where Idris Elba plays some kind of cowboy knight from some kind of ethereal realm and Matthew McConaughey plays some kind of wizard with creepy fingernails, and there’s, like, gunslinger kung fu (gun-fu?) and stuff, excitement among fans of the novel series appears mixed.
It has all the makings of a summer blockbuster, and it has Stephen King’s name attached to boot (which arguably is a liability in some circles). But there’s this nagging baggage it seems to be lugging around.
If you haven’t read the series, you probably have a friend who has. Go ask them where they sit on this one, and you’ll probably get a moderately animated shrug, which is weird, especially for a franchise of this magnitude and prestige.
So what’s the deal?
(Minor spoilers for the book series below, but if you haven’t read it by this point, I don’t think you’ll mind. Either way, proceed at your own risk.)