Friday, August 4, 2017

The Dark Tower [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

The Dark Tower [2017] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Nicolaj Arcel along with Akiva Goldman, Jeff Pinker and Anders Thomas Jensen, based on the series of books [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Stephen King [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]), given its tortured production history -- the project began in 2007 (!) -- can perhaps be forgiven for feeling exactly as it does ... a tired survivor of a Hollywood meat-grinder.

Yet given both the truly legendary successes of previous adaptations of Stephen King's commercial "magical realist" works to the silver screen (oh my, where does one start? -- Carrie [1976] [2013], The Shining [1980], The Shawshank Redemption [1994], complete / continuing (!) lists are maintained on both IMDb and Wikipedia) as well as the specific success of the Dark Tower series of books [wikip], a fertile vein of King's cross-genre (Fantasy, SciFi, Western and Horror) speculative fiction that grew into an OCTOLOGY (!), it was inevitable that _eventually_ A FILM (of some sort...) would be made.  And perhaps the best news for Stephen King fans and then fans of the Dark Tower series in particular is that a parallel television series starring a fair number of the actors in the current film is scheduled for release in 2018.

SOOO ... the final and yet (coming full circle) now _primary_ purpose of the current film comes to be to simply introduce Viewers who haven't have the time (or interest...) to read the whole eight volume series (+ the graphic novels [GR] that apparently the series inspired) to the "world" in which the Dark Tower series plays out.

So then ... said "world" in which the Dark Tower series plays out is actually a MultiVerse (a series of discrete universes that can be passed through, from one to another, through various portals.  At the center of this MultiVerse is a beacon / "tent pole"-like Dark Tower, which (for reasons / by means unclear) keeps the forces of Evil (Entropy?) "outside" the MultiVerse structure allowing it to exist.

The grand conflict in the current story is between an Evil / Nihilistic "wizard" named ... there are SOME who call him "Walter" and others who call him "The Man in Black" played actually quite well by Matthew McConoughey ... who wants to knockdown said tent-pole-like Dark Tower, AND Roland Deschain (played by Idris Elba), the sole surviving Western-style (yet "Knight-like") "Gunslinger" of his world, entrusted to protect his world (and hence, though he does not completely realize this yet, ALL THE OTHER WORLDS of this MultiVerse, including those of Earth AND of that the Dark Tower) from the forces of Evil.

Now why would "Walter" (aka "The Man in Black") want to knock down The Dark Tower?  Well, given his Nihilism, "because it's there" (to be knocked down) and at least in part because he sees this as "inevitable" (and if it's going to be knocked down _eventually_, why not be the one to do so).

The problem is that to knock "The Dark Tower" down, one needs to shell it with _the minds of innocent children_.  So the now Evil and always Nihilistic wizard "Walter" (and his minions) hop (through portals) from one universe to another TO ABDUCT CHILDREN who they then strap to a monstrous machine that would hurl their innocent minds (in SciFi-like catapult fashion...) against this Dark Tower at the Center of "All that Is" (that Tent-like MultiVerse).

And so then this brings the story "down to earth" specifically into the world of random 14-year old New York residing Jake Chambers (played by Tom Taylor) who's being tormented by dreams of a "Dark Tower," a "Man in Black" and a "Gunslinger" and "does not know why," causing him, unsurprisingly, trouble both at home and at school ...

Of course poor-troubled/confused Jake becomes a key figure in "saving the MultiVerse" (even BIGGER than our Universe ;-) from a Fate that most of us, let alone Jake's parents / teachers could POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND ... ;-)

Much, much, much naturally must ensue ... ;-)

Introduced like this, in the fashion above, it does make for one heck of a story ;-) ... but after 10 years of studio-infighting, one just hopes that the ensuing television series does it justice.    

Good job, sort of ;-)

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