The wheel has finally turned. It is, at long last, time for:
There aren't many movies in my lifetime that I've wanted to see more than I wanted to see this one. And it was, of course, a complete letdown.
I've probably wanted to see nothing in my life more than I wanted to see the first of the Star Wars prequels. I'm old enough to remember a time when there weren't going to be any more Star Wars films; then, suddenly, there were: the long-rumored prequels. I was so excited about The Phantom Menace that I can -- to this day -- vividly recall having a nightmare about it. This happened about a year before the movie was released; I had a nightmare in which I went to see the movie and it sucked. I woke up and may literally have breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Oh, thank God it was only a dream!" But that ended up not to be true, didn't it?
Luckily, I also know something of what the opposite of that feels like. Another of my most-anticipated films ever was The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I remember sitting with a friend watching the first trailer, and us being giddy about it and wondering aloud the kinds of things you should never wonder aloud about movies: what if it is not only good, but SO good that, like, it wins a shitload of Oscars? What if it makes, like, $300 million? That one turned out quite nicely.
The Dark Tower is somewhere between those two. In truth, I was never excited about the movie. I was excited about the idea of the movie. Well, not "the" movie; "a" Dark Tower movie, yes, but never this particular one. It became real evident real quick that this was going to bear very little relation to the movie playing in my head; so it never had a chance to really get me pumped up with true anticipation.
However, in the let's-make-a-movie-someday stage of things, yeah, absolutely: this is about as hyped as I can get. I used to think things like hey, what if they made about seven or eight Dark Tower movies? What if they were all huge hits and did SO well that people made spinoffs and did, like, a whole King Universe thing? What if the chick who played Susannah won an Oscar for it?
You know. Shit like that.
Clearly, that didn't happen. In theory, I guess it still could, but I'd say the chances are nil for about fifteen more years of anyone even trying, much less succeeding.
Still, it's plain that at some point in time, at least a few Hollywood movers and shakers were thinking along similar lines, if only in a theoretical sense. At some point in time -- let's say it was around the beginning of the decade -- the film industry developed a rabid desire for long-running franchises. There was probably nothing in a single one of the Dark Tower novel that made studio executives excited to make a movie; but since there were SEVEN of them (nobody told them about The Wind Through the Keyhole, guaranteed), we-he-HELL! now, THAT'S something different! THAT sounds like a franchise, fellas. All we have to do is buy the rights, sit back, and count our bonuses as they come rolling in. Whuzzat? Figure out how to MAKE the movies?!? Christ, that's just details.
If that sounds like a cynical take, let's not necessarily feel that way. In theory, I love big franchises. It's what our culture as a whole has decided it likes about going to the movies, and there's at least one example -- the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- of this type of thing being pulled off at an extraordinarily high level. There have been flops, too; the world is still laughing about the Dark Universe that Universal tried to gin up with its classic-monsters properties. Oh-ho-ho! Oh, how we laugh about that one.
But in theory, a Dark Tower franchise could have been a resounding success. So why not aim for it? Why not make two decades' worth of movies and/or television shows set in (or spinning off from) that universe of storytelling? It is a perfectly reasonable desire from a studio standpoint, and by golly if this property doesn't fit the model (albeit imperfectly in some ways). Furthermore, what King and/or Tower fan would balk at the idea?
No sir, there's no cynicism whatsoever from me as it relates to the idea of doing that.
There's quite a bit of cynicism in me regarding how Sony and MRC went about actually trying it, though. And rest assured, that cynicism is likely to be vented at full pressure throughout this review. Because they bungled it. They fumbled the ball on first down; they struck out looking; they bricked both free-throws. I don't know cricket, but I assume "sticky wicket" might apply, too. Feel free to apply your own sports-fail metaphors; they'll all work.