Zack Snyder Can Save ‘The Dark Tower’ Franchise — Hear Me Out [OPINION]
Zack Snyder may be the only man who can save 'The Dark Tower' franchise, and I'll tell you why.
The future of 'The Dark Tower' as a film franchise is in real jeopardy after a mild box office opening and lukewarm critical reception (and that's being really generous). It took forever to get this thing to the screen, and maybe should've taken longer, but Stephen King's magnum opus deserves better.
As a fan of the books, I was worried how this movie would play for me as opposed to those unfamiliar with King's masterful series of novels. Though it did have some generally troubling filmmaking problems, I didn't have an issue with this vastly different adaptation of the material. It was streamlined, maybe a bit too much, and easy to understand for such a complicated narrative. It wasn't aided by my previous knowledge of the material either, which my wife, who has not read the books, confirmed. It was a pretty accessible jumping off point for newcomers, which is really what you want in a franchise-starter.
Idris Elba, though a little too short on screen time, was fantastic as the Gunslinger. The movie, which was not without its flaws, did a great job of making his magician-like gunplay look badass, which I thought would be impossible. They even managed to make a battle between a gunslinger and a wizard work, which is one of those things that you think would not translate from page to screen. They did it, and it looked surprisingly not-ridiculous. McConaughey was alright (alright alright) too. He might have hammed it up just a little too much... or maybe it was not enough. I'm not sure which yet, but I am confident that he's a great choice for The Man in Black.
Now that 'The Dark Tower' has a workable foundation for someone to build on, let's talk about my headline, which probably had you rolling your eyes. After the 1-2 punch of 'Man of Steel' and 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice' polarized critics and DC fanboys everywhere, a lot of people soured on Zack Snyder. I understand their complaints, but enjoy most of his work. I loved BvS, liked MoS, and loved 'Watchmen.' If you can table your issues with those films for a few moments and hear me out, I think you'll agree that he's the man to save 'The Dark Tower.' Here's why:
One of the terms you'll hear most in regards to Stephen King's Dark Tower series is "unadaptable." Granted, it will be incredibly difficult to strike the right tone of a western, horror, sci-fi, fantasy epic, but Zack has been to this party before. Once upon a time, there was a graphic novel named 'Watchmen' that was repeatedly tossed into the "unadaptable" bin... that was until Zack Snyder came along. He made a fine film out of a beloved piece of work that proved too difficult for others to take on. Sound familiar?
No matter what you think of him as a storyteller or director, most agree that his movies are visually stunning. His visual style is unparalleled, and often breathtaking. That was one of the slightly underwhelming elements in 'The Dark Tower.' I'm certain that Zack's version of Mid-World, the Dark Tower, and all that lies beyond would be nothing less than spectacular.
I loved the way Snyder and Ben Affleck brought Batman to life in BvS. He could've killed less, but I get it. It was a jaded Batman who'd given up on his old rules. That archetype can be applied directly to Roland. In fact, all the things that some felt worked against this version of Batman will work in favor of Roland. With Snyder's penchant for anti-heroes and Idris Elba's ability, I have no doubt that Roland will continue to be a magnetic presence on screen.
As I mentioned at the top, there is a mashup of genres at play in the world of Stephen King's books, which might be hard for some to blend. However, Snyder's resume checks almost every single box. He's masterfully handled a fantasy epic with strange creatures in a strange universe before (see '300'). If that alone isn't enough proof that he's qualified, watch him take on horror in the well-received 'Dawn of the Dead' remake, and pretty much every other genre across both 'Watchmen' and 'Sucker Punch.' He is uniquely qualified to bring these books to life. While we're on the subject...
One of the main criticisms of Snyder's DCEU work is that it's too dark in subject matter and tone. That's exactly what the next Dark Tower movie needs. The first one felt like they tried a little too hard to reel in Harry Potter fans. The places this franchise will have to go will not allow for a family-friendly approach... or a PG-13 rating.
For a series of novels as massive as 'The Dark Tower,' you're going to want someone who has a lot of experience translating stories from other mediums to film. There's not a ton of people who have done this with as many beloved properties as Zack Snyder. Tim Burton probably has him beat, but nobody wants to see Helena Bonham Carter as Roland and Johnny Depp as Oy in the Tim Burton reboot. Zack's definitely got the chops to pull the rest of this story together.
Zack Snyder has been taken to task for major alterations to the source material in some of his previous adaptations, but that's exactly what this series needs. Since it's not a direct adaption of King's novels, and ***SPOILER ALERT*** the new movie already burned through a major third act plot point, there's plenty of room for changes. In fact, they're necessary.
If I know anything about Zack Snyder, it's that he won't do this movie on the cheap. That was a major issue I had with this Dark Tower movie is that it was, at times, cheap looking. I saw green screen at one point, and that is unacceptable in a major Hollywood movie. I suspect the short runtime was due to the short budget. The CGI also got less impressive as the film went on, likely because they were running out of money. That won't happen with a Zack Snyder joint. It's going to be hard for Sony to cough up that kind of dough for a sequel to a movie that will be lucky to break even, but as many have noted -- you can't do movies like this on the cheap. The only way to salvage this franchise is to give it a real shot by throwing a bunch of money at it. Go big or go home.
There were some complaints of the action scenes feeling stale in 'The Dark Tower.' Something tells me Zack Snyder's Dark Tower would have that problem.