Friday, April 30, 2010

Everything is Going 19

It seems like a coincidence that yesterday I wrote about what a Stephen King fanboy I am and today all the internets are a-buzz with news about the movie rights to King’s Dark Tower series.  All of my favorite geek blogs are talking about it, so I feel that I must have my say too.  If you are not versed on the story to date, let me fill you in.

“First comes smiles, then lies.  Last is gunfire.” Roland Deschain of Gilead

First, let’s talk about the books themselves.  The Dark Tower series is King’s magnum opus.  The series itself comprises seven books and was published over a 22 year period.  The story contained within those seven books actually has direct and indirect connections to as many as 15 other King novels and short stories, like Salem’s Lot, The Stand, It, etc.  There was even a graphic novel series published by Marvel that contained parts of the story that never made it to the original novels.  The story follows the Gunslinger, Roland, on his quest to find the Dark Tower and spans many worlds and universes, some very similar to our own and some extremely different and arcane.  The story also has King himself as a character.  It is truly an epic tale and King’s best work.  It is inconceivable to think that this series could be condensed into one movie, but would almost have to be delivered in Harry Potter fashion with a movie relating to each book.

So who would take on a task like that?  J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (all of Lost fame) paid $19 dollars for the film rights to the series a few years ago.  That was like Christmas day for me, a Stephen King fan and a Dark Tower fan and a Lost fan.  I thought at the time, if anyone could give these books the treatment they deserve, it would be these three guys.

A few months ago, J. J. Abrams and crew announced that they would not be pursuing the project considering everything else that they have going on, i.e. Star Trek, Lost, etc.  At the time, I was a little heartbroken to hear that, but I hoped that someday they would take up the reins again and start making the movies.  Since most fans of the series, like me, waited 22 years for the series to come to a conclusion, what is waiting another couple years to see the movies?  How long did it take to get the Lord of the Rings trilogy done right?

Yesterday it was announced on that there was now new players to the Dark Tower game, Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsmith.  The Good and The Ugly.  The article from reports that Ron Howard, The Good, would direct the work and Akiva Goldsmith, The Ugly, would write it.  Ron Howard has done some amazing movies, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Parenthood, to name a few.  I think he could definitely bring something to the table.  Especially if he brings his “A” game like he did for Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. 

Akiva Goldsmith, one the other hand, has ruined the screen adaptations of several good books and stories to the point where I wouldn’t mind giving him a swift kick in the head for what he has done.  Let me start with I, Robot, the movie.  The original collection of short stories titled I, Robot was written by Isaac Asimov.  If I am considered a huge fan of Stephen King, then I would be considered a raving lunatic for Asimov.  What Goldsmith did to the screenplay for I, Robot was unforgivable.  He completely pissed on the Three Laws of Robotics and the whole point of Asimov’s science fiction work.  I think when the movie came out, many geek clerics declared a Salman Rushdie-esque Jihad on him for disgracing the name of Asimov.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he did it again with the Richard Matheson classic, I Am Legend.  I have to admit at this point that the movie as a movie was good, but the portrayal of the zombie-vampires and the ending was all wrong and that he, again, missed the point of the story.  When I learned afterwards that Goldsmith also penned this beauty, I wanted to band together with my nerd brethren and open up a can of whoop ass on him.  He was also responsible for Batman and Robin, Batman Forever and Lost In Space.  His only redeeming film to date has been A Time To Kill.

Now to the treatment.  According the story, the proposal is to make a movie trilogy and TV series out of the books.  Ok, I can understand the movies, but a TV series?  This is not network TV material if done right.  King’s works have never really ported well to television.  The dialog alone would force it onto the premium channels like HBO and Showtime, not to mention the sex, notably the two scenes where Roland and Susannah have sex with demons, and violence, because Mister, they deal in lead.  None of the sources say which order they will be done in either, whether it will be three movies followed by a TV series, or a TV series interjected with movies at the crucial points.

I honestly don’t care how it gets to the screen, but I do care that it is done the right way.  If it is anything less than Peter Jackson’s treatment of The Lord of the Rings, I am calling up my nerd posse and we will ride.  The man in the director’s chair (and writer’s chair) will flee across the desert and the angry nerds will follow.

If you don’t want my opinion on it, please read some of these articles:

Note: The word count for this post is evenly divisible by 19, it took every ounce of my willpower to do it.

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