Thursday, February 18, 2016

Uh-oh...

Deadline is reporting that Abbey Lee is in talks to join the cast of The Dark Tower as the female lead alongside Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.  Lee is best known for her role in Mad Max: Fury Road.  She looks like this:
  
  

  
  
Deadline reports that Lee will be playing Tirana.
  
Uh-oh...
  
Who the fuck is Tirana?
  

Well, as it turns out, Tirana is a can-toi.  According to Robin Furth's concordance, "When we meet this obese low woman in the Dixie Pig, she is wearing a strapless, silver evening dress. Detta Walker rips off her mask and exposes the rat beneath."
  
How this translates to Tirana being the alleged female lead of the first movie is a mystery to me.  Except it isn't, because I know the answer: the writers on this movie are butchering King's novels.  We already had hints that this might be the case, given that nothing about The Man In Black exactly screamed "Matthew McConaughey," and also given that nothing about Roland screamed "Idris Elba."  Call me a racist if you want, but the Roland of the books is a white man, plain and simple.  So if the role is being filled by Idris Elba, it's likely that some elements of the story have been adjusted.
  
If Tirana -- who I had to consult a concordance in order to remember -- is present in the first movie, the story changes seem even more pronounced; if she is the female lead, then it may be that what we are going to see on movie screens under the title The Dark Tower is going to be anything but The Dark Tower as we know it.
  
On the one hand, this is okay by me.  I've been on Earth for almost 42 years now, and in that time, I've enjoyed many, many movies and television shows that adapt their source material very liberally.  One of my two favorite Stephen King movies is more a Stanley Kubrick product than it is a reflection of the King novel, and that's fine by me, because I can experience whichever I prefer any time I want to.  The Peter Jackson adaptations of Tolkien added characters and changed story, and I mostly loved the movies.  There's no point in giving a comprehensive list of adaptations like this, but they are numerous, including the HUGE number of changes (very few of which gall me) to the James Bond novels for the movies.
  
So yeah, okay, maybe this is fine.  And given this massive new piece of evidence showing that the movie(s) will be taking profound liberties with the books, I'm actually now okay with the idea of Idris Elba as Roland.  Why?  Well, because he's not really playing Roland, and he'll be doing so in a movie that isn't actually The Dark Tower.  That ship has sailed; not going to happen.  So instead, I can begin to look forward to Idris Elba playing a badass in what might end up being a fun sci-fi-/fantasy/horror/Western.  That seems like a thing I could very much enjoy, so hopefully, I'll enjoy this one.
  
I'll have to force myself to forget the books while I'm watching it, but I guess maybe that's a thing I can at least try to do.
  
Thing is...
  
I mean, here's a valid question: why bother calling the character Tirana?  She seems unlikely to be anything like the character in the novel, including the fact that they've hired one of the skinniest women on Earth to play a character described as "obese."  Perhaps makeup will be involved, and the character actually will be a giant tub of guts, but let's assume that you don't hire an Abbey Lee to bury her under prosthetics.  If so, this Tirana will not be anything like the book's Tirana, in which case SHE ISN'T ACTUALLY TIRANA, so why bother calling her that?!?
  
Again, I know the answer (potentially): because this production's filmmakers know they are fucking about with the source material, and know that King fans (if not King himself) are likely to grumble and complain.  Therefore, they are desperate to show that they are actually being faithful to the material.  "No, no...!" they will protest to the grumblings.  "Tirana is a character from the books!  We're using material from the books!"
  
This is familiar to me.  During the current era of James Bond films, there has been a bizarre emphasis on paying homage to the other films by way of references.  They have also tried to insert references to Ian Fleming's books and stories, so as to be able to claim that they are still working from Fleming's inspiration.  Therefore, in the most recent film, Spectre, Bond pays a visit to a safehouse that is disguised as a "Hildebrand Rarities" shop or warehouse or something.  Because, you see, there was an Ian Fleming short story titled "The Hildebrand Rarity."  This is a reference designed to make Fleming fans uncross their arms and unsquint their eyes and say to themselves, "By Jove, these new movies are okay!"  Problem is, the "Hildebrand rarity" of Fleming's short story is a fish, and as far as I know fish have nothing to do with safehouses.  So tell me again how this namecheck reference is an indication of legitimate Fleming content instead of a pandering lie...?
  
So it seems to me to be with Tirana.  It's a reference designed only to placate fans who are content to not actually ask why things are being done in a certain way.  "Oh, she's in the book?" they'll ask, impressed.  "Oh, cool!"  They will then move on and think no more of it.
  
That's not me.  That's not most of us around here, I bet.
  
The weird thing is, this news causes two simultaneous but very different reactions in me.  On the one hand, it makes me throw up my hands in disgust because it couldn't now be more clear that the producers and writers and director are approaching the novels as something that need to be corrected.  If so, I think that's the wrong way to approach them.  The novels have issues, but there's no reason you couldn't make a great series of movies out of them.  Tweak what needs tweaking, but massive and wholesale changes imply dissatisfaction with what is already there.  In other words, Akiva Goldsman and Nikolaj Arcel are looking at these novels that so many fans love (warts and all) and are saying, "How do we fix this?  What's here isn't good enough, so how do we make it good enough so that we can make a billion dollars on it?"
  
And hey, the movie business IS a business, so I get it.  But if that's your mindset, you probably need to find a series of novels that are more conducive to earning you that billion dollars.  Why buy a set of, as you see it, fundamentally-flawed books and then spend millions of dollars trying to figure out how not to lose money on them?  Shit don't make no god damn sense.
  
So that's one reaction my brain is having.  The other one is that I'm now, suddenly, rather okay with the idea of Idris Elba as Roland.  As I mentioned in the comments section of a previous post, this is actually an idea I had several years ago: Elba is a badass, Roland is a badass, put them two hands together and start clapping.  At that time, I failed to take the racial dynamics of the story into account, and if those dynamics aren't going to be part of the story of these movies, then sure, let's have Elba, by all means.  Great actor, superstar on the verge of happening; he's a credit to virtually any production these days.  And after all, even if the movie veers as far away from the novels as, say, The Running Man or The Lawnmower Man did, that's no guarantee the movie will be bad.  This is not to imply that those are good movie; I've got a soft spot for both, but they are mediocre at best.  They aren't that because they failed to closely adapt the King stories they were based on, though, and we can hope that The Dark Tower will be great regardless of how much fealty it pays King.
  
I suspect that's going to be very little fealty indeed.  So perhaps we'd all better abandon all hopes of seeing an accurate and faithful adaptation.  Let's begin to expect the following, or something similar:
  
  • Susannah will not be in a wheelchair.
  • Neither Odetta nor Detta will exist.
  • Jake will be substantially older.
  • Roland will not lose his fingers.
  • Roland's gun skills will be literal superpowers of some sort.
  • No Randall Flagg.
  • No Stephen King.
  • The entire plot of "Wolves of the Calla," Song of Susannah," and "The Dark Tower" will be ignored and/or eliminated.
  • No Father Callahan.
  • No flashbacks to Roland's youth.
  • The entire plot of "The Gunslinger," with the possible exception of the Jake plotline and the Man in Black plotline, will be jettisoned.
  • Jake and Eddie will be combined into a single character.
  • Susannah will be white.  (Productions like this care about diversity, but they rarely care enough to make more than one of the leads non-whites.  If that seems like advance-level tokenism to you, well, it seems that way to me too *coughfantasticfourcough*.)
  • The multiverse aspect will be discarded.  Susannah and Eddie might not even come from our reality anymore.
  • Oy will show up in the first movie.
  • Any and all references to other King properties (like The Stand) go bye-bye.
  • The Western aspects will be heavily played down.
  • The violence will be restrained so as to obtain a PG-13.  (Although the R-rated success of Deadpool could cause that to change, I can almost assure you they have been considering it a PG-13 up until this past Friday.)
  
I could go on, but why bother?
  
There's always a chance -- maybe even a strong one -- that all those changes could still result in a good movie.  But the facts, as they mount up, all point toward zero interest in faithfully adapting the novels.  Hollywood continues to mostly have no clue how to adapt Stephen King.  They don't seem to ever learn from the good adaptations, which means that folks like Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist), Rob Reiner (Stand By Me and Misery), and Bridget Carpenter (11.22.63, at least so far) continue to be outliers in the King-adaptor community.
  
It's a shame, but what can we do?  Hope for the best while expecting the worst, I guess.  I don't know what else to do in a world where Tirana is going to be the female lead of a Dark Tower movie.

34 comments:

  1. I'm thinking three things:

    1. Trainwreck approaching
    2. Red herring
    3. Tirana is being expanded into perhaps a combined role as a villain.

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    1. I could see that third option being true, and her being a sort of version of Sylvia Pittston. I could also see Tirana being turned into a version of Susannah. Horrifying, but I can imagine it.

      Trainwreck? Yeah, that seems likely to me. This smells like a production that is grasping at straws simply to get it made. It's going to turn out to be something along the lines of "The Last Witch Hunter" or "I, Frankenstein" or some other low-level fantasy/horror hybrid that nobody ends up buying a ticket to see.

      Red herring? Maybe, but I'm not sure I see anything to be gained from it. You use red herrings on a production like "Star Wars," not this. But you could be right.

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  2. I see what you mean by this film being another "Running Man" (a film which I admit a soft spot for). However, there are two things that bug me. First, however deviated from the source material "Running Man" was, they managed to supplement that with at least a modicum of entertaining imagination and, surprisingly, a decent bit of social commentary. The second is the lack of irony versus too much of an overload of it.

    Simply put, the point of what made the old B pictures of yore so enjoyable is that they were played 100% straight. Take an old Rutger Hauer film, "Split Second". Basic premise, Alien meets Blade Runner, meets buddy cop film. Ludicrous en extremis, and yet, it's enjoyable as hell. That's the kind of imagination you want to see in cases like this, yet I think that quality has been lost over the years. As much as I hate to say, I wonder if the reason for the loss has to do with taking the self-referential allusion "The Simpsons" made famous and using it to bury the necessary suspension of disbelief required for even the B pictures. If that even makes any sense.

    Long story short, I don't expect to ever see a faithful "Tower" adaptation, even when the title is hanging from the marquee. I'm even beginning to wonder if this story isn't of the type too big for the movies. It's not the first time that's happened (Ahem, Dune).

    Oh well, there's always C.U.J.O.

    ChrisC

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    1. You make a good point about "Running Man" the Movie's social commentary. It's got at least a few thoughts in its brain; they're b-movie calibre, but that's okay. I agree that b-movies of yore had a lot more going for them than the ones of today do. Hell, do b-movies even exist nowadays?

      "Dune" is a good comparison. And I STILL hope for a faithful adaptation of those books. I hope in vain.

      Oh, "C.U.J.O." I almost hope that actually happens.

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    2. I've got something to say about the comparisons to The Running Man, et al.

      Some Stephen King stories aren't really that well known. Some are better known and some are classics.

      The Running Man was such an obscure book that there are still people who don't realize there ever was a book. The Lawnmower Man was a truly bizarre short story that few outside of devoted King fans read.

      The Dark Tower is King's universe defined. It's not just a classic, it's one of THE classics. It's right up there with The Stand and It and Pet Sematary as one of his chief defining works.

      It's gotta be done right. That's why I still hope this project crashes and burns and Howard, Grazer and Mr. Bat Credit Card sell the rights so the equivalent of early 2000's Peter Jackson can take over.

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    3. You make a very good point here, Josh. "The Dark Tower" is a more worthy title than either of those others.

      I'm really working myself into knots over all of this, and I'm aware that I'm probably being a bit hypocritical. Sometimes, with some projects, I get all bent out of shape arguing that adaptations are just adaptations and that changes to the source material are not only okay but might often be preferable. And I believe that to be true. Other times, I get all bent out of shape arguing that if a screenwriter (as an adaptor) doesn't begin from a standpoint of trying to keep as much of the original as possible then they are doing the project a disservice. And I believe THAT to be true, too.

      I guess what my brain is trying to reconcile is the notion that -- as you suggest much more succinctly and effectively -- each project is different and should be treated according to its specific demands.

      In the case of this series, I think you're nuts if you change the first four (maybe even five) novels much more than cosmetically. And in fact, if your plan is to change them substantively, I honestly don't know what would draw you to the novels in the first place. The paycheck, I suppose, which explains why noted Hollywood hack Akiva Goldsman seems to have become the flag-bearer for this project.

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    4. Indeed. Each project is perceived differently.

      Ultimately, while I understand that changes have to be made, respect for the source material needs to be evident, even in the changes. For example, did the changes make the story better, worse, or was it kept the same?

      Game of Thrones's first season was about 80-85% faithful to the book it was based on. And it's probably the weakest season of them all. The people behind the show, however, were and are devoted fans of the books, and wanted to hew as closely to the original story as they could. Each season has introduced more original elements, but if I'm being 100% honest, I have to say that the newer seasons, as in, the ones that deviate the most from the books, are the best. Even, dare I say it, better than their source material.

      And I wouldn't be at all upset if The Dark Tower did the same thing. The first three books, absolutely, they need to be at least 85-90% faithful and the deviations should only exist to expand on Roland's world and background. Book four would likely work best as a television series. Books five through seven (and eight), well, the GOT approach works there; keep what works, get rid of or change what doesn't.

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    5. I like the last few books, but I think they are clearly a different animal than the first four; therefore, if a filmmaking team decided to try and come up with their own idea of what a continuation from that point SHOULD have looked like, I'd be willing to give them a chance to do a good job with that.

      Nothing here indicates that to be the case, though. So far, I don't see much to cheer me.

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  3. I still don't know why the Hildebrandt namecheck doesn't bother me. It's stupid and pointless and exactly as insulting to the core audience as you describe. Why doesn't it piss me off? By all the calibration systems I know, it should. It MUST. I feel like Spock in "Spectre of the Gun." I need to get over whatever it is that keeps me shrugging it off.

    As for the matter at hand, I think you're taking a sensible approach to the news. With these bits leaking out, it's clear this will be a fundamentally different work than The Gunslinger. (It's starting to sound like it'll end up as Dreamcatcher, actually.) So you're free from worrying - detachment is very liberating. Only when earned, of course, and I think these casting choices certainly do that.

    Will it be a good movie? I hope so. But, as you describe, sure sounds like they went through some needless trouble to NOT adapt the source material. I still hope it's entertaining - hell, The Running Man is entertaining. I wouldn't change THAT movie at all, but I'd still love to see a proper version of the original story. There's room for all, but now that I know I'd be disappointed to wish for what isn't on the table, I'm more apt to be agreeable to whatever they want to show me. If it sucks, no sweat. If it's passable, I'll be happy. But it's not going to be the first part of The Dark Tower as it exists in the books in any way I can see.

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    1. "I need to get over whatever it is that keeps me shrugging it off." -- You might have that backwards. Yours is probably the logical approach, which explains you feeling like Spock. I imagine him watching Spectre and just raising an eyebrow every once in a while.

      "But, as you describe, sure sounds like they went through some needless trouble to NOT adapt the source material." -- To be fair, I'm making a lot of assumptions and/or extrapolations, and none of them might pan out, including there actually being a Tirana. Or there ever actually being a movie. But yeah, I just don't understand why you buy a property like this and then immediately start running away from it. That seems like a deeply flawed business model.

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  4. This is so crazy to me. Clearly this is going to be a big character if they are making this big of an announcement about her. I almost wonder if Oy will be pretty in the films?? He might just be a straight up dog if he is.

    Deadpool might allow more movies to be rated R so you are right there. That is a good thing perhaps.

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    1. Maybe! We'll see, I guess.

      Oy being an actual dog would not surprise me in the least. Oh how pissed the entire King fan community would be by that!

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  5. Time for King to step in and demand that his name be removed from the credits since the movie is quite obviously not based on any of his works.

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    1. King's one of the producers on this thing. Apparently he's all for it.

      Just like he gushed about how good Under the Dome was.

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    2. I think he just wants it to get made, no matter what the cost. My guess is that he sees it as a means of potentially launching him into another type of stratosphere, the way it's happened with Tolkien and Martin. I can't blame him for that if it's the case, but I think he's a sometimes poor judge of who is going to serve his material well and who isn't.

      No chance he'd ask for his name to be taken off, though. If he was likely to do that, he'd have done it with "Haven," which is so far removed from T"he Colorado Kid" as to be ridiculous.

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  6. I honestly think that now is the perfect time for an R-rated, pretty faithful to the source material Dark Tower adaptation. Especially with the success of Mad Max: Fury Road and Deadpool. I just think this is the wrong creative team to tackle such an ambitious undertaking. Akiva Goldsman, within the last 5 years or so, has been involved with the following films, among others: The Losers, Jonah Hex, Paranormal Activity 2 3 and 4, Winter's Tale, and Divergent: Insurgent (ridiculously titled film when you write it that way). None of these films make me think he should be involved in this, and in my opinion they were all pretty bad.

    However, Nikolaj Arcel's involvement at least gives me some faith. His films King's Game and The Royal Affair were both pretty damn good, and he co-wrote the screenplay for the 2009 version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I do think he might be a great choice for a director and I'm glad he has a hand in the screenplay. I feel it still might turn out to be a really great movie with his involvement, as well as Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey's as well.

    I just feel, especially with this news about Tirana (seriously?!) being the female lead in the first film, that this won't really be the Dark Tower. Hopefully it will still be good though! I read recently that Anders Thomas Jensen was recruited by Nikolaj Arcel to help him re-write the script that was previously written by Goldsman and somebody named Pinkner? Jensen wrote the 2014 Mads Mikkelsen helmed western The Salvation that I thought was damn good, so maybe that can be counted as a major plus as well.

    We just need to manage our expectations.

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    1. The actual title is "The Divergent Series: Insurgent," which is even worse. And yes, I agree that Goldsman being involved is a bad, bad thing.

      I appreciate you offering some insight on both Arcel and Jensen. Their involvement sounds promising, and as you say, we can hope for the best.

      By the way, lest I be misunderstood, let me say that I do hope the best will happen. I'm not optimistic based on what I'm hearing, but that's all interpretation filtered through my own personality, and it might end up having NOTHING to do with the final product. Up to and including Goldsman's involvement; I mean, he wrote "Cinderella Man," so he's got good movies in him.

      But I never want a King-based project to end up being bad, especially "The Dark Tower." And as a McConaughey fan since "Dazed and Confused," I'm rooting for it from that standpoint as well. I'd also love to see Idris Elba finally become the superstar we all know he can be; I think this is miscasting, but if he ends up getting the role, I'll be hoping for him to knock it out of the park.

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  7. You nailed it, as always.

    See, this series isn't like, say, Robin Hood, or the works of Shakespeare, or anything that's been adapted umpteen times and is in desperate need of something to make a new adaptation stand out. It's not old hat. It's not been done to death. This is literally the first time it's ever been adapted, and as you said, the producers are already looking at it like it's something that cannot be left as is, or even just tweaked a little. It's got to be completely, radically changed.

    I'm done. I won't be seeing this in a theater, provided it even gets that far (I'm still of the mind that this will go the way of Superman Lives). I'll probably watch it on NetFlix just to see how royally they cocked it up, but I'm not spending my hard-earned cash on it.

    Like you said, it seems like Hollywood still hasn't learned from their past mistakes. The King movies everyone loves tend to also be the ones most faithful to the stories they're based on. Even The Shining was more faithful than this one looks like it's going to be.

    This would be like changing Jack Torrance from a playwright and teacher to a retired cop, making Wendy a sexy black prostitute named Taqueshia that catches his eye and changing the Overlook from an isolated hotel to a downtown New York slum, and the plot is Jack stopping the residents of said slum from being possessed by demons.

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    1. lol

      Know that I only use "lol" when I actually laugh out loud, so kudos on that comment, sir. I suspect the prostitute's name would actually be Wendicia, but otherwise, kudos.

      And agreed, of course.

      If the movie ends up actually being as radically different from the books as it sounds, I think you are going to hear a lot of VERY vocal grumbling about it from King fans. I'm retired from King-fandom messageboards, so I don't know what they've been saying since the Elba news hit. My sense is that they more or less got onboard once King gave it a mild thumbs-up. But when and if the first trailer hits and it appears to almost literally be another story, I suspect many people will, like you, be using their dollars to vote no.

      Prediction: $14 million opening weekend, $45 million domestic, $215 million worldwide, all of which spells no sequel. This is based on almost nothing, but it'll be fun to see how correct I end up being.

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    2. Thanks, I'm glad I could make you laugh.

      I'm moderately active on the SKMB. There are some apologists for Elba there, but mostly the other posters aren't quite on board. Some are vehemently not on board. Even King's blessing didn't change anyone's minds. If they were already okay with it, they were more okay with it, and they already didn't like it, they simply reminded everyone that King apparently thinks Mick Garris is an awesome director and gushed praise for Under the Dome.

      What I find funny is that I, and others, took the producers' cavalier attitude toward a drastic visual change to the hero (and their willingness to give Walter a Texas accent) as signs that the just didn't care about producing the story as written. Others shouted us down and called us...well, you can guess.

      But now it looks like that very thing is happening.

      I do take SOME comfort, however, in looking back over film history. Several project like this one almost made it to the big screen.

      Before Tolkien died, there were attempts to make a film version of The Lord of the Rings. One film treatment was seen by Tolkien, and he sent a letter to the studio boss telling him how horrified he was by what he read. In the collection "The Letters of JRR Tolkien", the great professor describes a bit of what we were in for, and let me tell you, we dodged a bullet...hell, we dodged an atomic bomb with tha one.

      Alejandro Jodorowsky wanted to do a film version of Dune that never got off the ground. While it sounds like he would have produced a pretty epic film, and the idea of Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen sounds like a Dune fan's wet dream, the more I learned about this project, the more happy I was it never came to fruition. Most of it was going to be based on dreams Jodorowsky had, rather than the actual story, for starters. Then there was the casting of Salvador Dali as the Emperor, whose throne was also going to be a toilet and yes, we were going to see him use it as such.

      Superman Lives was going to be an utter travesty; a long-haired Nic Cage was going to be our Supes, plus Superman was going to wear a completely different costume as producer Jon Waters called his iconic outfit "too faggy". Oddly enough, L-Ron was going to be a sassy gay robot voiced by Dwight Ewell, and described by Waters as a "gay R2-D2 with attitude". Chris Rock was going to play a fast-talking, streetwise Jimmy Olson.

      All of these project reached various stages of starting. Filming locations and set designs were already being created for the 70's version of LOTR. A full crew and several actors had already been hired for Jodorowsky's Dune, and Tim Burton had already hired several actors and a film crew, had costume fittings for Cage, and heck, posters went up in theaters promising a 1997 release date.

      There's still time for this project to fizzle and die, and I truly hope that happens.

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    3. I do too.

      I think you mean Jon Peters, although given the context, I see how you had John Waters on the brain. ;)

      I am a big "Dune" fan but have not yet seen that documentary on Jodorowsky's version. I guess it might have been interesting, but the bits of "El Topo" I've seen indicate to me that Jodorowsky is a filmmaker I am going to continue to be disinterested in.

      What you say about the SKMB only makes me glad that I vacated the premises. I tend toward getting angry about shit on the Internet and then saying stupid things, and that place brought it out in me like you can't even believe. So I bid adieu and never looked back, and plan never to return.

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  8. For me the problem of adapting The Dark Tower as movies has always been that each book feels dramatically different from eachother, so I am on principle ok with significant changes because I don't see another way to sell it as a saga. If it was a tv series it might be different, but as a series of movies I always found the idea of it being close to the books very hard to picture. I love Idris Elba, I love Abby Lee so I am not bothered by these news. My problem is more that I am not getting the vibe they want to create an original good movie inspired by the books (in terms of atmosphere, characters, philosophy, etc). So my expectations are very low, a bit like I feel for These dark materials movie adaption vs. my expectations for the BBC adaption. I definitely recommend the Dune documentary, I would have much preferred to see that movie to the Lynch one.

    Millarca

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    1. I've got a soft spot for the David Lynch movie, simply because it was what introduced me to the novel. It's the iconography of that movie that I think of when I think of "Dune," for better or worse. But as an adaptation of the novel, there's no doubt that it is woefully inferior.

      Personally, I think it ought to be relatively easy to craft a series of films out of "The Dark Tower." People say that "The Gunslinger" would be a challenge, but I don't buy it. There's plenty of action, and if you can get people invested in both Roland and Jake as characters -- particularly by roping in as much of the young-Roland storyline as possible -- then you'll hook people on the whole series.

      "The Drawing of the Three" is simple, as is "The Waste Lands." "Wizard and Glass" is a natural fit, as is "Wolves of the Calla."

      From there, it gets a bit murkier, but overall...? I just don't see the problem. Clearly, Hollywood disagrees, though.

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  9. Ugh, this is so frustrating. If you want to make a lead black, guess what? THERE'S ALREADY A LEAD CHARACTER IN THE DARK TOWER WHO IS BLACK. I am normally all for switching up diversity in casting, and if Susannah didn't exist, Roland being Idris Elba wouldn't bother me.

    I could also see making Idris Elba The Man In Black. In fact, for whatever reason, I always pictured Randall Flagg in the Stand as black (maybe because he was called "The Man in Black"? Or possibly because I don't have great reading comprehension skills).

    This is definitely looking not good.

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    1. I'd be very down with Elba playing the man in black! He and McConaughey should switch roles and Abbey Lee could play the priest in Tull. That way I could look very forward to the movie. But not the way it is now...

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    2. The idea of there only being room for one non-white lead makes me nervous, if that's how one were looking at it.

      Here's how I think of things: if you are working from an already-written story (be it an adaptation or otherwise), stick with whatever race/gender/orientation the characters already have...IF those elements make a fundamental difference to the character. If they don't, then cast however you see fit, and do so based on how you feel the individual actor/actress will suit the role, and also with an eye toward how the ensemble will interact.

      If you are writing a new project, it probably behooves you to -- when possible -- write characters who could be any race/gender/orientation. Not every role will end up being a blank-slate one like that, but it's a good target to aim for.

      However, there are -- and should (and MUST) -- always be roles that are going to be written for, and often by, somebody who has a specific set when it comes to race/gender/orientation. I myself am a white male heterosexual, and the fact is that that is always going to be the perspective from which I write. Why would it not be? I don't write fiction, but if I did, I would make a conscious effort to shake up my perspective every once in a while; but even so, I'd always come back to what I am. I would expect no less from anyone else. If you are a black female homosexual, I would hope you would always most strongly want to write about characters like yourself. If you don't, your writing is probably so impersonal that it would be uninteresting.

      So as always, I think the real work that needs to be done is finding non-white-male writers to help fill out the industry. Accomplish that, and diversity in casting will no longer be a thing that causes people to have to go on crusades.

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  10. They're trolling us Bryant. That's all.
    -mikeC

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    1. Some of the same trolls made "Batman and Robin." Bad sign.

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  11. Honestly, as much as I love, and I do mean LOVE, King's source material, it simply would not work on the big screen if they didn't change some elements of the story. Think about the non-linear way in which the story unfolds, or the fact that one entire book is a flashback, with a flashback inside a flashback. Think about the fact that King writes himself into the story in his latter novels. And perhaps most importantly, consider the fact that half of the tie ins that make the Dark Tower so awesome currently belong to other studios.

    I love The Dark Tower, but it's too vast, too weird, and too meta to ever work as a movie series unless they completely re-hauled it.

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    1. I wouldn't say "completely" rehauled it, but certainly there would have to be some changes made. I don't think they would have to be vast and sweeping in scale, though (except maybe for the material comprising VI and VII); I think it would be relatively simple to structure it in an effective way.

      It doesn't appear that Hollywood is interested in doing that, though. Shame.

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  12. FWIW I have to disagree on McConaughey, I think 'Killer Joe' showed that he has the right level of charisma and sinister for the character. My only issue that he'd be better suited for the Flagg of 'The Stand' than Walter in the first book and Robert Carlyle would be better for that but IDT they'd go for the "different actors playing the same person".

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    1. I disagree with your disagreeing! Only because I've never been opposed to McConaughey playing this role, though; I'm a big fan (although, stupidly, I still have not seen "Killer Joe").

      Robert Carlyle would have been a GREAT choice for the role. I had not thought of him before you suggested it, but yes, he'd have been terrific.

      Back to McConaughey -- I don't think he matches the Walter of "The Gunslinger," but that doesn't bother me much, because I always had the sense that that role would be expanded and modified. And that's fine; the character in the novels doesn't hang together all that well, in some respects, so it makes sense to retool him somewhat. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to make him more of a Flagg/Stand figure.

      I just hope it all ends up working!

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    2. I wrote a loooong comment, which was unfortunately lost. D-:
      So just the short version:

      Cool down, the movies can't take away the books from you. Either they are a good addition, or you can just disregard them. You will always have the books.
      Maybe it even sheds an entirely new light on everything, like a different universe in the same multiverse. Already hating now would be like hating King for destroying a classic like the Wizard of Oz by creating an interpretation which was in every way unfaithful to the original characters. Do you hate King for that? No? So, let's just wait and see.

      Also, don't forget that King is part of the "quartet" behind this movie, to quote the linked article. And my mind keeps making something different out of that quoted word...

      Dan
      (Yes, THAT Dan. Have been far too busy lately and barely advance with the Tower books...)

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    3. At this point, I think I've written extensively enough on this blog that I don't need to defend my stance toward adaptations: I'm fine with more or less whatever changes you want to make, provided that they end up working. Case in point: the Hulu version of "11.22.63."

      My problem with THIS adaptation ("The Dark Tower") is that I'm simply not hearing much that makes me think the writers actually do care about the source material. They're taking the central role in a rather different direction; there is evidence that at one point in time, they were considering having Susannah be a white woman with legs; there is evidence that it will be Jake who convinces Roland to pursue the Tower; there is evidence that the female lead of the first movie will be an incredibly minor character from the seventh book; etc.

      None of it adds up to being a good adaptation to me from where I see it at this point in time. If the end result is good, I'll suddenly be okay with most of that. But why would I not voice concerns over it in advance? If I thought some guy was planning on smearing dog shit on my car's windshield, I'd complain about that, too, even if he kept telling me he wasn't.

      As for the fact that King has endorsed it all...

      Well, I don't think I need to prove that I'm a King fan, so there's that. However, I'm certainly not a King sycophant, and therefore I'm not going to blindly trust his opinion on a film adaptation when there is such ample evidence that he's a go-along-to-get-along type of guy in these situations. This is the guy who -- in terms of his public statements, at least -- was fully on board for "Under the Dome" on CBS for at least the first two seasons. That loses you a lot of credibility around these parts.

      Simply put, I don't think he's always a good judge of what is and isn't the best way to cinematically represent his own work. I gather from various interviews that he doesn't much care about them, and that he'd rather just be friends with the people making them. That's probably to his credit personally, but I don't think it's always served him well professionally. That's a presumptuous and silly thing for me to say, but it's what I think, so there you have it.

      As I've said elsewhere, though, I'm mildly optimistic. That will only increase if the rumors of Aaron Paul playing Eddie pan out.

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