2017 The dark tower failed to hit theaters, and a few factors contributed to why the film did so poorly. One of many Stephen King adaptations in recent years, The dark tower stars Idris Elba as otherworldly gunslinger Roland Deschain, who hails from another realm known as Mid-World. When a kid from New York named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) finds himself transported through a portal to Mid-World, he accompanies Roland on his quest for revenge against The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey). The villain, meanwhile, is determined to take control of the mythical Dark Tower that rests at the heart of not just Roland’s universe, but all universes.
Rather than being directly adapted from the books, The dark tower acts as a continuation of the series, which includes seven novels, a tie-in book, and a short story. Despite the promise the film had with the source material it was based on, The dark tower proved to be a box office disappointment. The film also received generally unfavorable reception, with much criticism stemming from the film’s mishandling of the stories in the novel it sought to continue.
Ultimately, The dark towerFranchise plans fell through in light of its underperformance. Considering how much The dark tower series is to all of King’s work, it was an unfortunate outcome. At the same time, the fact that The dark tower is such a quintessential book series in Stephen King’s bibliography also helps explain many of the major flaws that have plagued The dark tower movie. Here’s what went wrong.
The film botched its portrayal of Roland
Casting Idris Elba as Roland Deschain was one of the decisions made in The dark tower it was a smart call. Indeed, Elba’s portrayal of Roland was one of the film’s most beloved aspects. However, the movie itself gave him little to work with. The film is really less of Roland’s story than of Jake’s, and while it may have been intended as a way to use Jake as a proxy for the audience, it backfired in a big way. The dark tower essentially stripped its signature protagonist Roland down to a generic gunslinger with a mysterious past. This trope having already been done to death in countless Westerns, King creating Roland as a knight in a gunslinger costume left many of Roland’s most unique character traits unexplored.
Worse, Roland’s portrayal in the film reduced his motivation to a very basic revenge plot against The Man in Black. At one point, Roland even expresses his disinterest in going to the Dark Tower and instead states that his main motivation is to get revenge on The Man in Black. In the book, finding and protecting the Dark Tower is Roland’s business. purpose, his sole motivation and the thing around which his entire existence revolves; his single-minded determination to reach the Tower in the novels is what defines him. The movie betraying his character’s heart with a weak revenge story was tantamount to Spider-Man saying he no longer cared about being in charge, and longtime Stephen King fans and lovers of the dark tower the books were left baffled by the decision. Despite the strength of Elba’s performance, the writing completely botched the portrayal of Roland’s character, leaving him underwritten and undermining the spirit of the character. However, Roland himself was far from the only element of The dark tower to be underdeveloped.
The dark tower was way too short
There’s a reason so many adaptations of Stephen King stories have been made into TV miniseries: a King novel is never a short read. Even many Stephen King films that have been released theatrically push their running time well beyond two hours. the THIS the films are a great example of this, first adapted as a two-part television miniseries in 1990 with a running time of three hours. The 2017 and 2019 theatrical adaptations went even further, splitting the story into two parts and running a total of 309 minutes between them. As Stephen King’s densest and most expansive series of novels, The dark tower just need to have more runtime in Stephen King’s standard range.
Instead of, The dark tower was given a brief runtime of 95 minutes, one of his biggest mistakes. The dark tower the books function as an intersection connecting King’s shared literary universe and the dark tower itself is a point of connection for all of existence. These two points alone demonstrate the extent The dark tower mythos is, and how much material its big-screen introduction was to contain. Any further, The dark tower The series marries half a dozen genres, including western, horror, fantasy, and science fiction, all tied to the concepts of quantum physics and string theory. Properly doing justice to the complexity of the mythos and the world’s unique landscape simply couldn’t be done in the runtime. The dark tower had to tell his story. Ultimately, this was another major contributor to the film’s downfall, as the truncated runtime neutered the entire expanse of the world and made it into something much more generic.
Dark Tower storyline not explored properly
Running as a sequel to the book series meant The dark tower had to be the most audience-friendly story possible. However, the movie went too far in the direction of watering down the story to make it palatable to mainstream audiences, and that arguably hurt the movie more than anything else. The dark tower the film adaptation attempted to hook an audience unfamiliar with the books into a story that already spanned several novels. Simultaneously, The dark tower also had to cater to fans of the books with a story that stuffed all of the show’s mythology, intertwined with other Stephen King stories like THISin an extremely condensed set of Cliff Notes. The dark tower more or less tried to reverse engineer the books in order to simplify the story, rather than building the story from a place that understood how many moving parts King’s novel series really had.
The dark tower the book series is tied to stories such as King the brilliant, THIS, The stall, Salem Bundle, and many more. Granted, the movie rights to King’s novels are spread across multiple studios and streaming platforms, which would make any attempt at a theoretical crossover difficult and unlikely to come to fruition at best. Always, The dark tower being the mainstay of King’s universe shows just how big of a board he presents. Even characters and story elements exclusive to The dark tower could fit it into the Stephen King big-screen equivalent of Star Wars. Unfortunately, with the film sizing up The dark tower mythology down to the lowest common denominator, it was not to be.
The history of Stephen King adaptations as movies and miniseries is full of as many misfires as it has hits. Be certain, The dark tower is far from the worst adaptation of Stephen King. Opinions will vary as to where this dishonor is most easily attributed, though King’s disastrous directorial debut Maximum overdrive would be a strong candidate (even King himself being one of his harshest critics). Ultimately, however, The dark tower is arguably Stephen King’s most disappointing film adaptation ever for dropping the ball so badly on his magnum opus and a story that means a lot to his body of work.
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