Where do I even start?
I mean, to wait this long and then to have the movie be…unremarkable. Is probably even more of a letdown than if it had just been awful. It was not bad and if you were a non-fan of the books, then you probably enjoyed a summer action film. For fans though…it was just not what we were looking for. There will be spoilers from here on out, but honestly, does anyone really care if the movie is spoiled for them?
The filmmakers managed to condense eight books into one 95 minute movie. There were little bits from almost all of the books. Ever since I finished the last book, I have wondered how this could be made into a movie. I could not think of a single thing that could be cut out that would not mean that you had to cut out more and more. And yet this movie found a way. Yes, I get that this is a different iteration of Roland’s story. He has the Horn now! Cool, so at least we can take solace in knowing that movie Roland did not snag OUR Jake Chambers. In fact, he snagged the one from Keystone Earth, not the one we grew to love in the books.
Unfortunately, if you want to strip the story down to it’s basic premise and make it about a gunslinger, who has lost his way, who seeks vengeance for the death of his father, who needs redemption, etc…then do it. Why include all of these characters from the books? Why change so many things? As Offord said “why change Jake’s dad? If for no other reason than the sake of change.” Now though, you have all these things mixed in from the different books and us DT-fanatics out there will constantly try to figure out how these things fit together. It felt like the director just took a giant shit on those of us who loved the books.
Do not get me wrong. Not everything was bad. Idris Elba was great as Roland (Idris is pretty great in anything and this movie proves he can be a leading man). Matthew McConaughey does an excellent job of bringing the Man in Black to life. Granted, he was not given a very good script to work with, but Matthew pulls it off. The rest of the cast was just there. They served a need at times. Jake’s mom dies, but it is not that meaningful. His stepdad is a jerk, so that death was not really sad or anything. I just never felt any connections to anyone. And the character that you should feel a connection with, Jake, just comes off blah.
Time to go off on a book tangent. I know, I kept saying in other posts that I would try not to compare too much, but it is impossible. The choice Roland makes in The Gunslinger, whether to let Jake fall to his death and go after Walter, OR save the boy and lose his chance at revenge. We know that Roland drops Jake to his death. The boy (as Roland constantly thinks of him) has begun to grow on Roland at that point (and the reader). His death shows us that Roland can be a cold, hard man, with only one goal (his damn tower!). When Walter says to Roland in the movie that he is like a dog with a bone, that line does not really resonate. We do not know what Roland has sacrificed.
Sorry about the quick aside.
I wish I could say that the action sequences were at least amazing. They were not. They were about what you would expect from any movie nowadays. You never really get the sense that Roland has an incredible eye. I mean, yeah he does crazy trick shots, but so does Jason Statham in The Transporter. I always felt that the scenes of Roland shooting needed to be different. It is not just his crazy aim, but also how fast he can draw his gun. How many times does someone remark that before they could blink, Roland had drawn and fired X amount of bullets.
Last complaint…I promise. The fish-out-of-water scenes. You know, where Roland is in New York and his way of talking and not knowing about certain things is funny. How do you screw that up? Stephen King already had some really great stuff. Like eating a “tooter-fish popkin” or needing some “astin.” He knows what sugar is, but thinks soda is the greatest thing ever. The movie tries to do them, but they do not come off as endearing. The scene in the gun store is another example. In the book, Roland (controlling Jack Mort), goes to a gun shop and says something like “excuse me shopkeeper, I am in need of bullets, but not sure what caliber they are, do you have a catalog of ammunition?” Or something like that. He then looks through them and is like “AHH, YES, these are the ones!” To which the guy is amazed that this person does not know .45 caliber bullets and claims to be a gun guy. And yet the movie just has Roland say “I need .45 bullets.” So he does not know what sugar is, but gun calibers have carried over to the different worlds? UGH.
Anyways, I could probably rant more and more about the movie, but I just do not have it in me. I am sad that it is a failure. I hope that they can still make the television show and that it will try to stick more closely to the books (especially if it is a flashback to the story of Susan Delgado and Roland). If not, then I hope in like ten years, someone tries to reboot this project in a more faithful adaptation.