The Dark Tower Movie – Spoiler Free Review

For the uninitiated, The Dark Tower Movie is based on the Dark Tower series of books by Stephen King.  It details the quest of Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger in mid-world on his quest toward the tower and in pursuit of The Man in Black.  It is a mix of western; sci-fi; fantasy and a honestly a sh*t ton of fun to read.

The book series has a legion of highly devoted and passionate fans, and I am one of them.  I even started a series of music based on the books.   The series utilizes many elements found in other King works such as, but not limited to The Shining, IT, The Stand, and many others which expands on the multiverse of Stephen Kings works.

When I first heard many years ago, that there was an attempt to bring this epic series to the big screen, I was very intrigued and asked myself many, many times “How the hell are they going to do that!”.

After passing through the hands of J.J. Abrams and then to Ron Howard, it was noted that the vision was to develop several movies and a TV series to completely flesh out the story.  I thought that was a good choice.  You could use the TV series to reveal much of the back story with Movies detailing the main action parts.  Although the majority of the idea was scrapped, there are still plans to have a TV series filling in some of the back story with Roland and Jake in 2018.  You can read more on the development of the movie and the franchise here.

I started listening to the Soundtrack for the movie which was composed by one of my new favorite film score producers Junkie XL, and LOVED IT!.

With all of that said, I was able to go see the movie yesterday at 19:19.  I had already lowered my expectations way way down, as I had kept up on the progress of the movie for years.  It was in development hell, test screenings didn’t prove positive, and all of the die-hard fans could just not accept that this was not a direct adaptation of the books.  Speaking of direct adaptation, I KNEW it wasn’t.  I knew it was another spin of the wheel, and no I’m not going to tell you what that means.  You’ll have to find out for yourself, or actually read the books.  I accepted that, and just wanted to see a good version of a movie based on The Dark Tower universe. The reviews were finally allowed to be given after 10 PM CST the day before. A definitive sign that the studio didn’t have high hopes for the movie.  And most of them were not good.  The reviews were mainly from those who ARE familiar with the works, and upset that the movie doesn’t encompass the scope of them.  Let’s just face it, you CAN’T truly encompass what The Dark Tower is in one single movie.  And to top it off, the movie that was delivered was only a typical 88 minutes long.

I went with my wife Kayla.  Kayla has not read the Dark Tower series, but she is a fan of many of Kings works.  She was a virgin in the world of The Dark Tower.  For me, she was my litmus test on how someone unfamiliar or only slightly familiar with the series would enjoy the movie.

Her response?

She liked it.  She thought it was an enjoyable movie.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.  She felt the movie gave her “enough” of an understanding of what was going on, to follow along with the movies plot.  She also feels (herself as well) that it might spark some interest in those who are uninitiated to seek out the books and give them a good read.

My response?

I honestly am unsure how I felt about it.  There were plenty of times Kayla would punch at me, or tell me to quiet down due to the amount of loud sighing I was doing.

I tried to pull myself out of the “fan” mode, and try to view the movie as someone unfamiliar with the stories.  To just enjoy it for the movie that it was.  And in some aspects, I did.  But there were many MORE times I was just saying to myself “Geez!  You can’t try to make the audience feel this way, you haven’t given them enough reason too!” or “For goodness sakes, NO!  You don’t just all of a sudden throw that in there”.  And in some cases thinking to myself “I see where you are trying to go with this character, and how you are trying to get the audience hooked on this aspect, but it’s not time.”

I planned on giving a quick spoiler free review of the movie last night after seeing it, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t tell if I freaking’ hated it, or even though I THOUGHT I had lowered my expectations enough, I hadn’t and couldn’t get passed my super fanboy mode to accept and watch what we were given with a unbiased critical observation to determine if, as a movie alone, was it interesting to the general audience.

I think I need to go see it again with a different view.  At this time, I’m thinking “It was an ok movie, but it’s not my Dark Tower”.  You can tell it was rushed.  You can tell they had a hard time assembling what we got.

If you are a fan of the series, I doubt you will be highly accepting of what we got but I could be wrong.  I honestly don’t want to tell you, that you should see this movie or not.  I think there will be different views from many different fans.

I WANTED this movie to capture my heart like the books have, and I think that was my biggest problem.  I wanted more.  I wanted a LOT more.  Yet I remind myself, there are other worlds than these, and Ka is a wheel.

PROS

  • I REALLY like Matthew McConaughey as the Man in black.
  • Tom Taylor as Jake.  Great job.  The kid has some acting chops.

CONS

  • Idris Elba, while I admire as an actor, I didn’t really care for as Roland.
  • WAY too rushed and short.  I think it could have been a way better movie if they included just a bit more character development to try to bring in more breadth of the characters from the books.  There is a ton of exposition that could have occurred (And this is something you really don’t normally want in a movie) creatively within the presentation we were given.  What we got was what appears to be “sudden” changes of heart and tone throughout.  And I don’t think it would add too much to the length of the film.
  • More of the same, you have “brief” statements about what the tower is all about, but nothing to truly make the audience understand WHY it’s so important.

Overall it was “Meh, well it didn’t suck” maybe I’ll give it a C-

 

For The Willow Wept… (Sunrise Edition)

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know I’ve released the Sunrise Edition of my album “For the Willow wept…”.

This edition of my album For The Willow Wept…, holds a special place in my heart. The original version of the album was released in 2012, however it took me 4 years to get to that point.

During those 4 years before its release, I was living on an emotional roller coaster and I found it extremely difficult to try to sit and compose new music. When I did, I would play a few notes; jot down an idea; replace a couple of voices in a song and then walk away after only about 10-15 minutes. It would then be weeks or months before I had enough courage to try it once again. There were way too many things going on in my life at the time, and I found it extremely difficult to concentrate on music. When I finally did return to it, I would fall into a deep depression. Suffice it to say, that’s probably why the album floats between highs and lows throughout.

In late 2011 and early 2012, I began to take back control of my life and myself. I reminded myself what my true passions were and found encouragement from others. I managed to assemble the songs I had worked on, and place them in a proper order for an album.

I had only 6 tracks together so I was looking at releasing an EP, but knew that I wanted to release a whole album since it had been 4 years since I released my last. I had enough feedback from fans about Sea Dragon, that I decided to write a Reprise version of it to end the album with, but that only got me to 7 tracks, and quite honestly, the reprise was just the same song twice, with a different intro and outro.

And then I found my inspiration again. I had a song I was working on, but it just was NOT making any sense, until one day things just clicked. I liked the song and the name that I gave it so much, that I decided to name the album with a similar name. The song was “For the Willow Weeps underneath the Stormy Skies”, and through someone very close to my heart, I found my inspiration once again.

I released the original version of For the Willow Wept.. around June of 2012, but knew I would eventually return to it to expand upon the idea, and extend the number of songs into a proper album.

After a few years or renewed vigor for my music, and honing my craft, I finally decided to dive back in to what I consider one of my more moving albums. I re-mastered the original tracks, removing the two versions of Sea Dragon and leaving only the “Reprise” version on this release. I also composed 3 more songs that are included to flesh it out as a full-length album.

This album for me represents overcoming your burdens, and emotional strife, and reaching for your dreams. Only you can control your own destiny, and it’s up to you to stand tall just move forward.

Life is full of highs and lows, you must remember that the lows will eventually go away. It’s important to stay strong and persevere.

You yourself may be experiencing dark times, but just remember the sun will rise.

I dedicate Sunrise Edition of For the Willow Wept… to Kayla, who has shown me what true happiness is all about. She is my sunrise, my Willow.

http://bandcamp.krichie.com/album/for-the-willow-wept-sunrise-edition

Be sure to take a listen when you can!
It will also be available on all the major digital distributors within the next few days.

 

– Keith richie