"There are other worlds than these."
These words ring more true than ever after sitting down to the surprisingly short run of The Dark Tower. As one who has read the series many times and the rest of the King universe at the same length; I was anxious to see where the writers along with Nikolaj Arcel would take us. As the lights went out and the production companies ran their logos they greet you a Tet-Corporation logo, with a rose and turtle. From there we open on children, some recognizable, in a place I recognize, and I know, from that first moment; they were going to do something special.
This is not a movie made to follow the books. Instead we have something much more open to interpretation. If you took all of the books and put them in a blender and poured that juice out as the follow up to the seventh book in the series, this is what you would come up with.
Jake's back story and travel to Mid-World has changed.
The Can-Toi are already on the move, pushing to destroy the tower like never before.
We see the aftermath of Jericho Hill, and the death of Roland's father.
Roland himself is even different, as if he has yes...forgotten the face of his father.
But none of this bothered me. Not in the least. We see Jake's struggling with dreams of what was, almost as if he had lived this life once before. He is stronger than ever, not due to his connection to the Tower but because he has much more of something he had previously, the Shine. He was strong in the books, but in this run, he is unmatched.
The Man in Black is running his gambit on the tower, almost unopposed. He uses Merlin's Rainbow to keep an eye on Roland as well as torment him.
Jake, plagued by nightmares, and hunted on Keystone Earth by the can-toi runs to the only place he knows, the portal for midworld, keycode entry 19-19.
From here, we actually run with the books for a few. Roland and Jake come together and decide they have to hunt down Walter. In doing so they are attacked by a creature the is easily comparable to the creature from IT. After a run in with more can-toi, the small ka-tet go to Keystone Earth to find where Walter is hiding and kill him.
In this time, Walter has found Jake's parents and murdered them, mocking the ka-tet, but leaving enough clues that they could find him at the Dixie Pig where he waits with his army of can-toi.
Here we see a very different run of events. Upon approach, Jake is taken by Walter and Roland is forced to move quickly to the Dixie Pig. Jake is the strongest breaker alive, and with him Walter thinks he can bring the tower down immediately.
This is where Roland really comes alive. We get the gun play pushed through the novels as well as the reaction and speed only a gunslinger can muster. The final showdown is between Jake using his shine to resist causing a massive beam-quake, as well as Roland having it out with Walter face to face.
The end is not an end, but an opening. This movie truly acts as a set up to a much larger broader universe. Roland asks Jake to join him back in Mid-World, and with Walter(temporarily defeated?) the quest turns to the tower.
There are definitely a few things that could have been hammered out a little more in this movie, for example, book dialog doesn't always sound great spoken out loud. Also, this is going to do a lot more for those that have read the books as it has loads of minor things and connections that most will not catch. I found constant notes and nods to other books in almost every backdrop.
The thing I think they captured perfectly is actually Roland. He is a lost knight of Eld and is focused purely on vengeance for Walter having a hand in killing everyone he knew and loved. The tactics of the Gunslinger were also fantastic. It is described in detail how proficient he is with his guns and how the man is a cold killer when necessary.
If you enjoyed the series, this is a must. If you like the idea of a sci-fi-western, this is also probably right up your alley.
As nervous as I was of seeing a series I hold so dear be mutilated by the Hollywood machine, I was pleasantly surprised at the care they took with this.
I would go see it again, if not just to be emerged in the world I love so much.
-Long days and pleasant nights...