Few writers had as much of their works mined for movie adaptation as Stephen King. While the prolific novelist is considered to be the undisputed reigning “Master of Horror” and deservedly so, with most of his horror stories (novels and short stories alike) translated into films and mini-series, two out of three of my favorite adaptions of his extensive body of work are actually not in the horror genre, ‘Stand by Me’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ with ‘The Shining’ being the exception. I admit I’m not the biggest Stephen King fan as far as his books are concerned (and I haven’t read most of them), but there are very few of his movies or TV mini-series I haven’t seen. So despite the scathing reviews the critics have levied upon ‘The Dark Tower,’ I wasn’t about to break the streak.
Okay, so I haven’t read ‘The Dark Tower’ series either, but I figured that’s not necessarily a bad thing because I won’t be disappointed if the movie didn’t live up to the books. TDT can be best characterized as a dark fantasy sci-fi western about Good versus Evil, a recurring theme of Stephen King’s. In TDT we have multiple worlds and dimensions, a protagonist anti-hero in Roland Deschain (“The Gunslinger” played by Idris Elba) who’s sort of a knight in a western, and a soft-spoken evil wizard (“The Man in Black” portrayed by Matthew McConaughey) with the unpretentious name of Walter Padick. There’s also the “boy with all the gifts,” 11-year old Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who, as you might have surmised, holds the key to defeating “The Man in Black.”
TDT is a serviceable movie intended to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, but in light of its disappointing box office numbers over the weekend one can only conclude that it’s ill-conceived from the start. By not being faithful to the book and in essentially making it into a YA movie, the vociferous TDT fans are not happy, but they’re not numerous enough to make TDT a financial success anyway. OTOH mainstream moviegoers didn't exactly embrace it with open arms either. While TDT was the number 1 movie last weekend, its $19 million in domestic ticket sales is the lowest of any “weekend box office winner” all summer. “Serviceable” just isn’t good enough these days.
"The Man in Black"? Isn't it the Men in Black?