If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, well… You get it. You see, I’m a stickler for details and more importantly, I’m a stickler for using source material. Not just for inspiration, but to use as a literal checklist for how to “get it right”. Now, before anyone cries “racism” ( I mean is that literally what we have to resort to to defend this adaptation’s shitty decisions?) let it be said that I have no intention rooting for Danny Devito playing Blade in a new Marvel reboot or Paul Giamatti playing Malcolm X in a gritty but controversial new sweeping biopic. The phrase “respecting the source material” can have a very literal translation and here, I believe it should have no exception.
You see, to truly pay homage to something is also to emulate it, to flatter through forgery, so to speak. (Let it be known that I love Romero’s Knightriders and the fact that he chose to make a quirky, unconventional “sport” film instead of trying to rewrite LeMorte d’ Arthur and tell all of us that Lancelot shows up on a 65 Duo Glide. Inspired? Hey, there’s sincerity in that, but taking a series of books but that has deeply impacted its readers over a span of over 35 years and then come right out of the starting gate telling those same fans “hey, remember that character that you grew up with, learned with and lived with through some of the most harrowing times in your life? Remember staring at all of those Michael Whelan paintings and imagining seeing those same images on the the big screen. Remember wishing that the books could hurry up and become films still allowing time for Eastwood to pull off the greatest iconic character that King had ever penned? Well, fuck you guys, because WE think we know better”.
Yeah, that might not just sound harsh but also a little near sighted, right, Cuz, c’mon, Idris Elbas has given us nothing but great performances. Nothing could be closer to the truth. Of course, so has Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker, Peter Dinklage and the late Jessica Tandy. Guess, what? Aint none of those muthafuckas come in at a close approximation to the steely eyed, line of Eld, Roland Deschain, son!!! Let’s take some of those fantastic DT illustrations and start a little ole line up shall we? Viggo, yep. Maybe some Guy Pierce? Sure. Hell, give the Bad Seeds a lil ole vacation and I’ll take Nick Cave brandishing that six-shooter. The point is that there are plenty of grizzled, gaunt white actors with penetrating gazes that are perfect for the role not just in the very literal physical characterization but also pulling off the stoic, calculated personality of MidWorld’s dark anti-hero. I CAN see Elbas definitely taking a lucrative position with her majesty’s secret service and undoubtedly assuming the 007 mantle. I think he’d make a fantastic Bond, but his almost hyper heroic stature and self assured bravado is a far cry from our gunslinger.
Let this serve as an open letter to the filmmakers who, in one of their late-night, corporate sponsored think-tank sessions started spit-balling ways to “shake things up” and came up with this little number: don’t weigh in on a prize fight as heavy as this one by rewriting the bible as soon as the bell rings. We don’t need a progressive, forward thinking, politically correct game changer of a casting call. DT fans are smart enough to know that Roland is more of an archetype, than a character chained to color, so let us mentally do the heavy lifting here and use the template that was laid out for you in SEVEN FUCKING BOOKS and start this thing off right. It is unfortunate that Eastwood just isn’t up to the challenge any more or this could be even more of a no-brainer. It’s just too bad he didn’t have any offspring that could serve as a nice stand-in…oh…wait…suck my fucking dick, HE DOES!!!! Let’s just hope they don’t decide to prison-fuck this production on an even bigger scale by fundamentally changing the motivation of the main character…oh look, there’s actually a DT script review over on AICN….HOLYJESUSFUCKINGCHRISTINAPICKLEJAR!!!!!…read the next paragraph…
Yeah, because that is exactly where the Akiva Goldsman scripted screenplay is going. When we first see Roland we see an embittered, nomadic Roland who has lost his purpose and no longer seeks the tower. It is Jake who convinces him to pursue the very thing that is the CRUX OBSESSION THAT DICTATES THE ENTIRE SERIES OF BOOKS…fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck this is perhaps the biggest, most ridiculous, pimp slap with a mood ring on act of “c’mon guys I read the back covers” approach to story adapting that i have heard of yet involving this train-wreck. MY mood, should you look into the inky blackness of my circa 70’s ring finger ardornment right now? Why yes, Timmy that would be full-on stroke-worthy RAGE. Roland’s essence, his core, his very being is his pursuit of the Man in Black and the Tower. Again, as if I have to reiterate here, this is showing a complete disregard for the source material, which is really the core of my rant. If the filmmakers are already making so many decisions that are quite obviously contrary to the beating heart of the story, what else do they have in store for us?
So can we do a lil “here are things that make me comparison shop for sniper rifles” rundown of the current tally of atrocities plaguing this huge middle finger to DT fans?
1. Idris Elba. G’damn this is just bad casting. Second maybe to a full cg rendering of Zelda Rubinstein playing Jake (the latter is completely a joke Hollywood, not an actual suggestion…my gawd, what I have I done). Not only is his physical statue and demeanor totally wrong for Roland but a major component of the relationship between Susannah and Roland is the racial tension that initially threatens their Ka-tet. Also, once we start to get all “meta” towards the bookend tomes of the series it is also mentioned that Roland bears a resemblance to King as well. I don’t know about you guys but I remember watching Prometheus and thinking to myself “how in the holy hell did we get from the farthest reaches of space to Derry, Maine because I’ll be damned if that aint good ole’ Stephen King helming dat der spaceship…gaaaawwwwllllleeeeee!!!”
2. Roland is a beleaguered embittered drifter whose questing is a thing of the past in Goldsman’s script. What the shit, really?!?!?! The primary treatise of this entire story about obsession, loss, and misguided heroics is now AGAIN bastardized by Hollywood spinning a yarn of a child turning a set-in-his-ways curmudgeon on the path to enlightenment with only a copy of Turner and Hooch and a YOLO tattoo…
3. Rumors of the film being a “one-off” are rather….ummm…troubling considering that King’s magnum opus spans several books epic not only in scope but in word count. Give it a week and this will be condensed into a trailer…JUST a trailer…no film, literally JUST a trailer…or teaser…I’m not discounting that idea either. So, we went from 4 films and three on-and-off television series to comprise the entire saga, to one film…are you concerned yet?
4. King has apparently given his blessing on this looming shit-storm, but remember, king may be a fantastic prolific writer, but he aint no filmmaker, gents. Some of the adaptations he has given his seal of approval to have been downright craptastic. A stamp of quality control by the man itself does not a good movie make.
Think I’m wrong? Disapprove of my use of the word “craptastic”? Have a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies that blows my Nana’s away? Sound off in the comments below. As it stands, DT is due to hit theaters sometime in early 2017.