Tag Archives: Adaptation

Review – The Dark Tower

What’s this?

Recently, on our Stephen King podcast episode, I pondered whether King was the most movie-adapted author of all time. My colleague removed all doubt with a positive confirmation that he is. Thinking back, I feel stupid for even questioning that statement. He obviously is.

The Dark Tower is based on a continuation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series, which consists of eight books. I have not read them but research explains that the novels are based on multiple genres. The unique selling point of a Stephen King adapted movie is that they are usually rich in narrative with deep but interesting detail. With the leading roles performed by Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, I was excited. Surely this had all the makings to be a classic?

What’s it about?

It is not difficult to explain. You have to expand your imagination to fully convey the plot but the premise is pretty simple. The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) seeks to destroy The Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is on a mission to stop the Man in Black. If the Man in Black succeeds, it will be a fatal end to the universe. The poetic component to the premise is that only an innocent child’s mind can bring down The Dark Tower. This leads to the second part of the premise.

In New York, Jake Chambers is experiencing multiple horrifying visions of this world that the Man in Black and the Gunslinger reside in. Coincidentally, earthquakes appear to happen all over the world when he has the visions. Nobody believes him of course. His conspiracist nature and curiosity leads him to the Gunslinger, and this ultimately triggers the Man in Black wanting to find him. Jake and the Gunslinger go on a mission to stop the Man in Black from achieving his objectives.

It sounds like this needs some backstory right?

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Review – Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

What’s this?

As I’ve noted before in this very series, the idea of alternate timelines and universes and all their attendant paradoxes is largely what has prohibited me from becoming what one might describe as a “fan” of comic books, which some would consider a rather egregious oversight given my line of work. When I reviewed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, another direct-to-DVD feature courtesy of Warner Bros. and DC, which also concerned a superhero team who ventured into a mirrored dimension to battle their doppelgangers, I expressed concerns about the futility of the endeavour, which I still hold. That movie surprised me, though, and it must be said that this one, which is based on the 2011 comic book crossover event “Flashpoint”, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, surprised me just as much, if not more so.

Why’s that?

A couple of reasons. The first, rather obvious one is that a standalone feature-film is a very different proposition from a concerted effort to mangle and merge a dozen characters’ established continuities. In comic books, these events are permanent – until, that is, the next one happens, or the whole line is arbitrarily rebooted, though even then the ostensibly clean slate still contains the sticky residue of versions past. It’s a nightmare. Something like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has the distinct advantage of having no obligation to a broader continuity. You can enjoy its hypothetical rearranging of DC’s stalwarts secure in the knowledge that by the time the credits roll, none of it will have mattered.

The second reason is that, unwieldy title notwithstanding, it isn’t a movie about the Justice League.

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Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 

What’s this?

After many apparent hesitations, director Luc Besson and his wife decided to write an English-language French science fiction action-adventure film titled Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It is based on the French comic series Valérian and Laureline. I am not familiar with the comics but in the past couple of months, I have admired the trailers from a visual standpoint. Then again, the movie did have a budget of 197 million Euros, so it should look mightily impressive. The movie has nowhere near matched the budget in the box office, and it is the most expensive European and independent film ever made. Ouch. I would hate to deliver that news to the board.

What’s it about?

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a space station. Wait, this will not work. Instead, clear your mind for a minute and imagine a space station in 2020. Then years later, leading countries of the world attach their station to this one. Then many years later, other species from different planets send their station to join in on the action. This continues to happen until the 28th century. We now have one large planet made of cities (named Alpha) with a multitude of peace agreements. Still with me? Good. Now, imagine a planet far away with pale looking, peace loving Avatars, who are living in harmony amongst powerful energy-containing pearls, in a tropical paradise. All of a sudden, huge ships crash into their planet and they are wiped out. Lead male character Valerian wakes up. He just had a dream about this decimated planet and he is about to embark on a mission with Laureline ordered by his commander to retrieve a converter. They are later told that Alpha is infected by an unknown force and they must investigate and protect the Commander, suspiciously performed by Clive Owen.

Can you see why I told you to close your eyes? This narrative has so many obstacles to jump around that, at times, it felt mentally challenging.

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Recap – Game of Thrones S7E3: “The Queen’s Justice”

This season of Game of Thrones will have seven episodes; the next will have only six. This, I reckon, is why the show has suddenly abandoned any sense of realistic proportion. Time is fluid now. Distance is irrelevant. Towards the end of last week’s episode, “Stormborn”, Jon Snow announced he would accept an invitation to Dragonstone. At the start of last night’s episode, “The Queen’s Justice”, there he is on the beach; that’s a week-long journey, maybe more, with scarcely a scene in between. We’ve been waiting seven seasons for these two characters to meet, and now things are moving so fast that you have to wonder if they’ll get any time together before they each start teleporting across Westeros.

Not that I care about realism in a fantasy series, obviously. I watch Game of Thrones to see people get naked, have sex, and swordfight to death. The logistics don’t concern me. But this newfound disregard for details does speak to what I’ve been saying in these recaps, about how much freer the show feels now. There are only ten episodes left to tie up about a dozen different ongoing conflicts, and in a show that has frequently had to stretch itself to breaking point in order to fill time and tick boxes, the rapidity of this new season feels liberating. The reason I drifted away from George Martin’s books is that they were mostly full of complete bullshit. What’s best about this season, so far, at least, is that it has no room for any bullshit at all.

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Review – Justice League: Doom

What’s this?

The motion picture version of Mark Waid’s Justice League of America arc, JLA: Tower of Babel, from 2000, adapted for the screen by the late Dwayne McDuffie, who died shortly after finishing the script. It’s also a sort-of sequel to the rather good Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, retaining the same character designs, being set, I think, in the same universe, and providing another iteration of the tried-and-true team vs. team structure.

Sounds familiar…

It is, I guess, but if Justice League: Doom accomplishes something tangible among the usual large-scale action these films are known for, it’s a darker treatment of the Justice League that pushes each member to their physical and emotional limits (and the film to the very brink of its PG-13 classification.) Ever wanted to see Batman get buried alive with his father’s bones, or Martian Manhunter perpetually immolate as he sweats flaming magnesium? Well, this is the movie for you.

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Review – Castlevania Season 1

What’s this?

The result of almost a decade of development hell, which is fitting. In the four chewy, 22-minute episodes of Netflix’s Castlevania, written by Warren Ellis and based on Konami’s Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, from 1989, you get a lot of hell: swirling columns of hellfire; the gnashing teeth of bloodthirsty hellbeasts; and Hell’s very own Count Vlad Dracula Tepes, the lovesick embodiment of evil.

Four episodes? Doesn’t sound like a lot.

It isn’t, but luckily the beefier 8-episode second season of Castlevania was commissioned on the morning that this season was released so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

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Review – The Circle

What’s this?

You might remember The Circle from April, when it enjoyed a limited theatrical release that critics treated a little bit how a dog might treat its favourite chew toy. Since then the film, which was directed by James Ponsoldt and adapted from a 2013 novel by Dave Eggers, has been sneakily picked up by Netflix, and was rolled out this week as one of their “Originals.” Someone at Netflix should probably look up the word “original”, because I don’t think it means what they think it means.

What’s it about?

Emma Watson is a small-town girl who secures a dream job working for a sprawling tech giant called The Circle – which is basically all your favourite real-life tech giants, only with “but evil” added as an addendum. It’s basically Facebook, but evil, although it’s organised like Google, but evil, and it’s run by an enigmatic figure not unlike Steve Jobs, but evil. Watson gets this job thanks to a jet-setting workaholic friend (Karen Gillan) who’s already there, but she quickly ascends the corporate ladder by being worryingly okay with the company’s invasive surveillance-state expansion methods, and becoming, through a process known as “transparency”, which livestreams her day-to-day existence, something of a pet celebrity.

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