While Stephen King is a relatively safe go-to writer when you want to adapt novels to the big screen, you still need to do a solid job in making the movie and not rely on reputation alone. Which is part of what made 2017’s The Dark Tower film so disappointing as it squandered one of King’s best novel series and delivered a film that not only had very little in common with its source material but was just horrendously poor.
All this is even more tragic when you consider the remarkable talent that made the movie, both in front of the camera with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey and behind as Oscar-winner Ron Howard served as producer of the film. It appears though that Howard still has deep regrets about how the movie panned out and in a recent appearance on MTV’s Happy Sad Confused podcast shared should’ve been done differently for it to be a success with both critics and audiences:
I think it should’ve been horror. I think it landed in a place, both in our minds and [in] the studio’s, that it could be PG-13 and sort of a boy’s adventure. I really think we made a mistake.
Thoughts which I can easily see all Stephen King fans react with a sense of collective frustration at the obviousness of it all. It should’ve been a no-brainer that a horror legend’s most important novel series should’ve been a horror movie itself all along and you must wonder what Hollywood was thinking trying to make a family-friendly version of the story. Yes, it would open it up to a wide audience, but considering the fanbase for the movie would all be well over that age, it just makes no sense.
If you’ve seen the movie though you will know that its toned-down approach was not its biggest weakness as the film also made a hash of its narrative in trying to tackle building this massive world which was supposed follow up on eight novels, many short stories and several comics in a mere 95 minutes. It was a recipe for failure and its no wonder that they just couldn’t pull it off. Something which Howard agrees with and says it would’ve probably worked better a TV series rather than a movie:
I’m not sure we coulda made this movie, but I think if we could’ve made a darker, more hardboiled look and make it the Gunslinger’s character study more than Jake[‘s]. In retrospect, I think that would’ve been maybe more exciting. We always felt like we were kind of holding back something, and I think at the end of the day it was that. The other thing might have been to just straight on tackle it as television first, I don’t know. [It was] disappointing, because I poured a lot of myself into it and sometimes this happens on these projects, where everybody [has the] best intentions, you’re all pulling in a direction, and then you sort of say, ‘Was that the right direction?’ I wouldn’t say it was all a compromise. I do think it was just a sense of maybe too much listening to what you think the marketplace is calling for instead of really the essence of what Stephen King was giving us
Again, another decision that baffles as to why they didn’t go down this direction in the first place. At the end of the day even though the movie was set to build off the previous eight novels, fans prefer to just pretend this movie never existed. Thankfully though there may be hope to do the novels some justice as Amazon is learning from the film’s lessons and adapting it as a TV series with Sam Strike in the central role of Deschain. Joana Ribeiro, Jasper Pääkkönen. Abraham Popoola, Ivan Kaye and Jerome Flynn are all cast in the upcoming series. Hopefully, this series can deliver on some of the horror elements too.
Last Updated: June 3, 2019