By Anthony Camarillo
No, Stephen King has never had any luck with adaptations. Of films that he would better forget, like The Mangler (1995) or The Lawnmower Man (1992) to maximum overdrive (1986)—directed by King himself—or even that version of The Shining (1996) that he wrote due to his dissatisfaction with the one directed by Stanley Kubrick, translating the undisputed King of Terror to the big screen has proven to be, if not a mess, at least a disappointment.
Directed by the Danish Nikolaj Arcel, The Dark Tower He assures that “there are other worlds, besides these”. Of course, the title refers to the formidable structure that, in the series of books written by King, connects all possible universes, and in which our reality and the Middle World touch: a fabled land, a clear reference to the Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and that in the master’s work it is not only the scene of the eternal battle between good and evil, but also the place where his work converges.
And it is that, as the teaser of the film already announced, the world of the Dark Tower is also the world in which everyone floats; It’s the scene of the apocalypse The Stand and the road that Christine hangs out on. And it is also where a few shine, as in the case of Jake: a fourteen-year-old boy, who lives with his mother and stepfather in New York City, and who for months has been haunted by strange dreams that he cannot understand, and that is reflected in the detailed vignettes in which, again and again, Roland the Gunslinger and Walter O’Dim, the Man in Black, are locked in an eternal battle.
At the center of that multiverse is the Dark Tower. “The man in black fled across the desert,” King says in the first of the eight books, “and the gunman followed in his footsteps.” Walter intends to bring down the Tower, which maintains the stability of the universe, and only Roland can defend it from destruction.
They say that the third time is the charm, and after the attempts of JJ Abrams and Ron Howard to bring the saga to the screen, Arcel carries out a job that, although decorous, is nevertheless destined to disappoint more than one. Critics have considered the film “boring”, “dull” and, above all, unintelligible to the uninitiated and, at the same time, simplistic and not very faithful to King’s books. The truth is that, as a chronicle of a rite of passage—the hero’s journey, as they call it—the story can be conventional, on the one hand, and closer to the youthful adventure of Ender’s Game (2013) and the sagas of Diverging either Hunger Games than to the apocalyptic epic of the original, as some other critic has already said.
And yet, and as a desired sequel to the books, the film frees itself from the ballast of the adaptation, from that obligation to be faithful to the original story, and allows itself to be taken along other paths that, for today’s cinema, are welcome: it is a story with an ending, which perhaps hints at the possibility of a continuation—the intention is to make a trilogy—but that does not promise to continue next week… or next year, something we have become accustomed to? Marvel tapes.
Thus, it is not surprising that The Dark Tower be an accessible movie when King’s literature always has been too. Nor is it a horror story, despite characters like Walter and the terror, yes, of some of its sequences. And it is that King is one of us, in more than one sense; his particular brand of American Gothic proves it. King finds horror in everyday life, and leaving the crypts and haunted mansions, he moves it to the kitchen, to the bedroom and, yes, to the reader’s most comfortable chair, the one where he sits to enjoy a book.
Will that constant reader be the one who feels disappointed?
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The Dark Tower – Morbid Fest
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