FILM: The Dark Tower Goes Splat on Rotten Tomatoes… Now What?

This week, we will forgo the normal Box Office Hustle to discuss the monumental news of this week’s big release, The Dark Tower, garnering an awful 17% on Rotten Tomatoes and receiving generally terrible reviews. While the inauspicious rumors that were swirling around the film before today did not make the Rotten Tomatoes reveal that surprising, it leaves the future of the possible film and TV franchise in doubt.

For those who have read the book series, this comes as a major disappointment. Much was expected after the seven-novel epic left took so long to see completion. Master horror and fantasy writer, Stephen King, took three decades to spin the winding saga from 1982 to 2012. The film began its long trek to screens ten years ago and passed through the hands of J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard before landing with man who finally brought it to life, Nikolaj Arcel.

No one could make heads or tails of what the film would address, and if it would stay true to canon or forge a new path. It appears to be loosely based on the first novel, “The Gunslinger”, but it appears to combine elements from several of the other books, almost incoherently. Here is the premise from IMDB:

“The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

Here is the official trailer from Sony Pictures Entertainment:

The planned TV series is supposed to be far more canonical, but it appears to hang in the balance at this point. The series is purported to be a take on “The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass” which will return to the Gunslinger’s past.

The success or failure of the film could but future endeavors in doubt, but if a strong cable network such as HBO or Starz picked it up, it could shake off the initial stumble. If it proves too radioactive for cable, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon (who regularly breathe new life into defunct, broken, or offbeat shows) could take on the burden of revitalizing the stories, and telling them as they were truly meant to be told.

One of the main complaints of interested moviegoers was that the running time for The Dark Tower (95 minutes) was too short to do it justice. Had the book series been optioned directly to a TV series, like Game of Thrones was, perhaps the problem could have been avoided. Now we may never get the chance to know.

The Dark Tower is not going to live up to the expectations of anyone, and the reviews and Rotten Tomatoes score reflect that. While the hardliners and purists will bash this movie, you must remember that King was heavily involved with the production. The errant beginning of the Dark Tower series on our screens, both big and small, can teach the industry what we expect from future endeavors. For those who love the Dark Tower series, go see the movie and appreciate seeing the books brought to life. At least try and have an open mind.

It’s not canon. They could have done a lot better, and the fans who have been waiting for so long deserve it. However, if this movie bombs, the fans may never see the Dark Tower on their screens again.

17% sucks, but it could be worse. You could have to go see the Emoji Movie with your kids.


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