The long awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower arrives in theaters in two weeks and based on all the trailers and marketing we’ve seen there seems…reason to be wary. More than reason actually. And more than wary. The trailers are…underwhelming to say the least and the heavy marketing push that one would expect with what aims to be a tentpole project based on a well regarded property is…virtually non-existent. Seriously, how many of you are looking at this post and asking, “what the hell random ass movie is he talking about now?”
Dark Tower. Stephen King. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Based on a long running series of books that many consider King’s magnum opus. Been in development hell for years. Comes out August 4th. Honestly, that brief description I just wrote has about the same level of energy as the marketing campaign. I am trying very very hard to be optimistic about this project as I love the books and have been dreaming about a film version for years. But I just can’t shake the feeling that this ain’t gonna work.
Now, that feeling is not because I’m angry that the filmmakers have said they’re going to make a lot of changes to the story. That’s great. Adaptations should carve out their own path and not be a rote version of the same story we already consumed in a more appropriate medium. It’s not because of the casting of Idris Elba. Elba rules and it does not fucking matter what color skin The Gunslinger has. He’s an excellent choice for the role. It’s not even because we just learned that the film will run a scant 95 minutes. Yes, that runtime suggests an extremely streamlined version of the story to the point of making book readers wonder if the film will even be able to cover half of one of the books. But even so, movies are too long these days so a brief runtime is practically a blessing. The feeling is simply there because the trailers are sort of bland and uninteresting and because it doesn’t feel like the studio is pushing the film very hard, suggesting they don’t have much faith in it. Still, I could be wrong! I often am! I hope I am! HOWEVER. There is one thing I am not wrong about. Not wrong about at all. One thing I am absolutely sure of beyond a shadow of a doubt. One thing that all of us–fans, non-fans, casual moviegoers, people who still have no idea what I’m talking about–should be able to agree on. And that one indisputable truth is this:
Blue guns are stupid.
Let me back up a second. Roland, the main character in this series, is known as The Last Gunslinger. Gunslingers are basically knights in this universe; noble, stoic, prone to violence, and all that. Except instead of swords, they use guns. Average guns. Normal looking pistols. But in the movie, Roland’s guns look like this:
Normal looking gun. Standard. Except for the fact that it glows blue. That shouldn’t be. Guns shouldn’t glow blue. They just shouldn’t. They don’t and they shouldn’t. Understand that this is not coming from the perspective of a snobbish book reader who objects to this heinous change. Oh no. If I had read this sentence in any one of Stephen King’s books: “As Roland raised his pistol and emptied the chamber, his weapon glowed with the blue light of the rose”, I would have paused, thought for a moment, and then said, “That’s stupid.”
I’m not one hundred percent sure why it’s stupid. It just is. Maybe it’s partly because it raises the question (for me at least) of why they glow blue. Is this an attempt of the filmmakers to make Roland’s world more fantastical? Did they say, “hey, you know Star Wars has lightsabers, Harry Potter has wands, Lord of the Rings has…lots of standard fantasy stuff. Dark Tower just has guns. Think we should spice them up a bit?” No. No, you shouldn’t. But if you must, the solution is not make the guns glow blue. Why? Cuz it’s stupid, as I have already said.
I mean, do all the gunmakers (smiths? craftsmen? I don’t know much about guns, other than that they shouldn’t glow blue) in Roland’s world have to put in some kind of special metal to make this happen? Or does this just naturally happen when they weld the metal? Does all the metal in this world glow blue? Like, when a train is humming along really fast, does it glow blue at some point? And does this glow serve a purpose? Does it make the gun shoot better or is it just an extra piece of flare? Do bad guys see it and go, “Shit, blue gun! That means Gunslinger! RUN!”? I don’t like the answers to any of these questions. Because no matter what, the answers are stupid. Blue guns are stupid.
Once again, this is NOT because I’m mad about a change to the books. Not at all. NO ONE should have blue guns. Not Roland, not Dirty Harry, not cops, not criminals, not futuristic space men, not aliens, not superheroes, not anyone. Blue guns shouldn’t be. They’re stupid. I know this may seem like not that big a deal but when I first saw the trailer a month or so back, they REALLY stood out to me. And people on the internet freely declare movie trailers stupid. You see the trailer for Bright that was just released? It’s being billed as Netflix’s “first blockbuster” and stars Will Smith as a cop who teams up with an Orc to find a magic wand in a city where humans and fantasy creatures live together. The magic wand is described as a “nuclear weapon that grants wishes”. The internet took one look at that trailer and pretty much said, “That’s stupid.” And sure, it is. But does Bright have blue guns? No, it does not. Point in its favor as far as I’m concerned.
I mean, does it even look like Elba buys the blue guns? That’s not the face of a man concentrating on a target but of a man who is thinking, “Why the fuck is my gun glowing blue? That’s stupid.” Guns should shoot bullets. That’s it. That’s all anyone has ever asked of them. No one has ever said, “Yeah, but they should also glow blue.” Can you imagine if someone in the gun factory suggested that? The foreman would kick him off the floor and as he’s doing so, he would say, “That’s stupid.”
And he’d be right. Cuz it is.
So, The Dark Tower might be good. It might be bad. I hope its good. I really do. I love those damn books. And Elba is LOOOOONG overdue to become major leading man. But come on guys. Just come on. Those guns don’t work. They don’t work at all.
They’re really stupid.
I’m glad we had this talk.