Sam Strange Remembers: THE DARK TOWER


Back in the crazy Harry Potter days, I never understood the logic behind making eight movies out of seven books. Who has the time? And what if the first movie sucks?

To me, the best way to do that was to introduce Harry, teleport him to Hogwarts (trains take too long!) get him in a couple classes, and then have him kill Voldemort. Done! Basically the story everyone loves in under two hours. They told me to go fuck myself.

They didn’t have that problem with The Dark Tower though. They took a look at the story - fantasy tropes, Western imagery, demon rape, talking trains, a bad guy you don’t see until the very end, a kid who dies like thrice, a crazed legless black lady who screams racial epithets - and begged me to condense it.

The Dark Tower is about a kid named Jake who has a whole host of problems. For one, his mom’s new boyfriend Todd is a real asshole, who’s always slapping his young mom’s ass (she’s 19) and commenting on her Tommyknockers. Jake had a real dad once, but he died when Jake was so young that if he didn’t have a picture of him around, he’d totally forget what the guy’s face looked like.

Jake also has the shining from The Shining. But he has it worse than anyone. This allows him to see the whole movie ahead of time and turn it into a graphic novel. It also allows him to watch The Shining any time he wants, but only the TV mini-series one.

It also means that the Man in Black is after him. The Man in Black is a wizard whose magicks allow him to jazz hand his way out of anything. He also has the Preacher power where you have to do anything he says. Oh, he can also light you on fire with his brain. Guy also cooks a mean chicken and definitely knows how to kill annoying stepdads.

A lot of actors do mo-cap roles today to portray otherworldly creatures. With the Man in Black, we had a Lincoln Towncar mo-cap as Matthew McConaughey. So consider that before you criticize the performance.

The Man in Black needs Jake. There is a tower in the middle of the universe that protects us from monsters, which is good news for us but bad news for the Man in Black, who thinks monsters are super cool. He has a machine that attacks the tower with brain bolts from psychic kids. Whenever a brain bolt strikes the tower, all of existence gets an earthquake and millions upon millions of jerk friends joke “hey man, I think your mom just fell down” all at the same time. Hurtful.

With Jake’s big brain, the Man in Black figures he can knock the sucker down in one go. But Jake already knows this. And he knows that if he goes to an old rundown house and inputs a code he already knows, he’ll fight a wood monster for two seconds but not get hurt and will then travel to another world where he’ll find the last Gunslinger, Roland. He even knows ahead of time that this film has no post-credit sequence.

A Gunslinger is a superhero whose special ability is reloading really fast. There were only ever two, Roland and his dad. But the Man in Black told his dad to stop breathing, so Roland is alone and hellbent on vengeance. The Man in Black’s magicks don’t work on him because

Roland is very impressed with Jake’s graphic novel and figures he can use the kid to find the Man in Black and get revenge. He tried once already but the Man in Black just casually caught his bullet. Roland took this failure and used it to devise a new plan for killing the wizard: TWO bullets.

Roland and Jake travel to a village with a teleportation device that’ll take them to the Man in Black’s office in Jake’s version of New York, which they call Coors Earth (Roland lives in Miller Earth). On the way, Roland battles various monsters and evil men sent by the Man in Black. They are hard battles because each opponent is able to knock Roland’s guns out of his hand, leaving him with nothing to reload super fast. He travels with the Horn of Eld, but what he really needs are some straps.

They make it to New York and eat some hot dogs before the Man in Black kidnaps Jake and takes him to where they were going anyway. Roland follows and reloads so fast that he kills all the Man in Black’s henchmen no problem. He and the Man in Black finally have a throw down in which he shoots bullets the wizard blocks with various crap on the floor. After a while they get really bored. Just then, at the hight of their tediousness, Cujo jumps in from nowhere and eats the Man in Black. As Ka willed it.

This causes several reactions. For one, the Crimson King jumps up and down somewhere yelling “Consarnit!” Next the Dark Tower shows up in New York to thank the boys. Jakes mom comes looking for him and ends up getting married to Roland.

It's such a happy ending from the mind of Stephen King! But then a random dude pushes Jake into traffic and a car runs over his head. As Ka willed it.

(three stars)