Stephen King delivers with ‘The Dark Tower’
I didn’t read the book “The Dark Tower.” In fact, I honestly know very little about it, except that Stephen King wrote it.
I’m a bit ashamed of this, considering I identify as a King fan, but that’s the truth.
Yet, based on my knowledge and experience with King, the movie was probably relatively accurate compared to the book. I’ll let you know after I’ve had a chance to read it if that assumption is correct.
“The Dark Tower” has a pretty simple plot.
It’s easy to follow and understand, which is the same as every other King novel or movie that I have read or seen. He takes an interesting concept, usually one that involves some sort of paranormal or supernatural activity, and keeps it simple. This makes it easy for the audience to follow along.
His specialty lies in character development.
Now, as I’ve already said, I haven’t read “The Dark Tower” yet, so I don’t know how the movie compares to the book. But there are two things I’ve noticed since I saw it Sunday.
First: It aligns perfectly with King’s MO. He gets you attached to a character, makes you love that character and feel for that character … and then he takes it away. Usually in a horrible manner that leaves a gaping hole in your chest and wondering why you constantly do this to yourself. It’s what makes King so successful. In “Joyland,” he wrote, “You think, ‘Okay, I get it, I’m prepared for the worst,’ but you hold out that small hope, see … that’s what kills you.”
I’ve had enough experience with King to simply go in and expect nothing but the worst. Yet every time, I get attached to a character. And, every time, that character dies. Because this, ladies and gentlemen, is what Stephen King does. He makes you love a character, and then he takes it from you.
Expect this in every King related thing you watch or read and you will be much better off than me, guaranteed.
Second: There is a definite ‘bad guy’ who is an actual person, not a supernatural force that has taken over or influenced a person. A real person.
This thing stood out once I realized it. In most other King novels or movies that I have seen, the ‘bad guy’ isn’t human.
“The Shining”: the villain is The Overlook or, rather, the ‘presence’ of The Overlook.
“Pet Semetary”: it’s the Indian graveyard or, actually, whatever ‘lives’ in the graveyard.
“It”: obviously the ‘bad guy’ is Pennywise. What Pennywise is, that’s something much more difficult to describe but the easy answer that doesn’t give too much away is he’s the clown. The clown that only comes around every, like, twenty years.
In “The Dark Tower,” though, you have a set ‘bad guy’ and a set ‘hero.’ This is somewhat out of the ordinary for most other King novels/movies that I’ve read/watched.
To give a basic idea of the plot, there is a tower which stands in the center of the universe. It is connected to all the worlds within the universe and casts a shield around them, protecting them from the ‘demons’ or ‘monsters’ that would otherwise destroy, well, everything. If the tower falls, so does this shield and, in short, the world comes to a fiery, tormented and unpleasant end.
It’s a more of a fantasy based plot than most other things I’ve come across in the King universe. Sure, “The Shining,” “It,” and “Pet Semetary” are all fiction as well, but they don’t rely on a fairy tale idea that keeps the world safe. Rather, they examine things within our world that are unexplained or disturbing, which tend to make people uncomfortable.
“The Shining” and “Pet Semetary,” for example, look into the supernatural. Both also delve into the psychological effects of certain exposures and experiences, but both of those things exist on Earth or within its boundaries.
“It,” while having its own sort of plot twist, also hones in on some of the more human parts of the emotional spectrum by targeting children. It may have a supernatural twist to it, but the core fear is how easily it is for children to disappear. As social creatures, this is something that naturally makes us humans slightly uneasy – or, at least, it should.
“The Dark Tower,” conversely, takes on a more fantasy feel. Actually, the ‘planet’ where the two main characters, Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor, and Roland Deschain played by Idris Elba, meet, is almost a dystopian Earth.
Without having read the book, I can’t judge how accurately it tells King’s original story.
What I can say, though, is based solely on the acting and the screenplay, “The Dark Tower” doesn’t disappoint. It’s a movie packed with all the action that the previews promise, while still carrying a story line of its own. For being only about an hour and a half, there is a lot of character development in the two main characters, giving you close ties to them throughout the movie: this takes both excellent screenwriting and acting.
It wasn’t what I was expecting.
King is known for his psychological thrillers and horrors, “The Dark Tower” was neither as far as I’m concerned. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good movie, and it was well worth the watch. I don’t know if I would own it, not yet anyway.
I would give it somewhere between three and a half and four stars, because of that. It was a good movie, as I said, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I plan to read the book and then watch the movie again and see how it compares, and we’ll see how my rating changes accordingly.