FLICKS: The Dark Tower & meeting the original Godzilla

Posted on 10 August 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

Twenty nine years ago, Stephen King published a trade paperback titled The Gunslinger, which was promoted and sold by the old Walden bookstores. With a mixture of science fiction, horror and cowboy ethos, I envisioned myself portraying the Gunslinger, Roland, who sought the Man in Black.

The Gunslinger was revealed to be a small part of a much larger epic. In the appendix, King wondered if he would live long enough to complete this cycle of stories, which concluded in 2004 with the seventh book, The Dark Tower.  It is ironic that the first movie of a proposed long-term series would be the title of the last book.

This movie opens with an ominous tone. A Dark Tower separates our world from alternative worlds with different time periods. (Confused?  Yeah, I know I lost some readers already). Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is having apocalyptic nightmares about the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) kidnapping children, blindfolding them and sucking out their brain waves. The brain waves are used to bombard the Dark Tower so that it will fall and the universe will be covered in darkness. The Man in Black has also picked a fight with Roland, the last Gunslinger (Idris Elba) from a golden age of law & order. Having killed Roland’s father (Dennis Haysbert), the Man in Black continuously taunts the gunslinger.

During an inner city earthquake in Manhattan, Jake discovers a portal machine that takes him into another world. Jake meets Roland, discusses mutual interests and decides to protect the Dark Tower. These actions set in motion a showdown between the Man in Black and the Gunslinger.

What was novel 29 years ago has become routine in the last 28 years of the summer blockbuster, movie experience. 

We see a series of action-set pieces that have no emotional involvement. By the time the hero and the villain have their showdown, the action feels repetitive.

With less than a two-hour running time, The Dark Tower feels longer in a dull way.   

I was saddened to learn about the passing of Haruo Nakajima this week.  While not a household name, Nakajima was an international superstar, best known for portraying the original Godzilla for nearly 20 years. A purely physical performance in a giant lizard suit, Nakajima managed to create a character that has endured for over six decades. Through a translator, Nakajima expressed a fondness for Godzilla and believed the monster was a tragic figure when I met him at a Spooky Empire convention three years ago.

I had arrived early at the DoubleTree Hotel and went into the gym. I watched this 85-year-old little man enter the gym and do many of the exercises that I did. Nakajima did not speak English, but, throughout the weekend, we shared a lot of smiles and a few laughs. R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima, a true class act.

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