New releases this week feature an eagerly awaited Stephen King adaptation and a potential Oscar contender.
1. The Dark Tower (Sony/Columbia, 3,451 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 18% Fresh [76 Reviews]): Stephen King has a pretty rabid fan base and the work his fan base is most rabid about is his Dark Tower series. A sweeping epic full of well defined characters and a rich world that readers could get lost in.
Hollywood has been trying hard to get it right and make a faithful film out of the series for years and finally, we get one–one that clocks in at 95 minutes and cost $60 million to make. In other words, they gave up trying and threw some crap up on the screen.
We see how other films treat epic literary adaptations. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games had their final books adapted into two films so they can give the story its due. Both had budgets way over $60 million. For comparison, the recent literary adaptation that was made for similar money was the decisedly non-epic, non-CGI worthy Gone Girl, and they spent $1 million dollars more that one than they did here.
It boggles the mind why Sony would go the cheap route here. The studio is desperate for a franchise, and if they put some effort into this one, they might have got one. Instead, they went for a quick cash grab, hoping the hardcore King faithful will see it no matter what, they’d earn their money back and who cares if the fans are angry. And that’s just shameful.
2. Detroit (Opening Wide, Annapurna Pictures, 3,007 Theaters, 143 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence and pervasive language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 89% Fresh [114 Reviews]): Police brutality against blacks is a pressing issue today, but it is not a new issue. It has been going on for decades, as this film will attest.
The film takes place during the 1967 12th Street Riot, specifically at an incident at the Algiers Motel, where law enforcement officers raided the building after hearing gunshots. The police brutalized all the people they found there and at the end of the incident, three residents were dead–two blamed on self-defense, one with no cause to be determined.
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reunite for this one. Their pairing on The Hurt Locker won them Oscars and their pairing in Zero Dark Thirty earned them nominations. Expect the same this time around with this film.
3. Kidnap (Aviron, 2,378 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated R, Rated R for for violence and peril, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 40% Fresh [35 Reviews]): Speaking as a parent, the fear that your child will be kidnapped is one of the most terrifying fears a parent has. So, the premise that a woman would do anything and everything to save their kidnapped child might seemed farfetched to the childless, it acts as a morbid wish fulfillment for the parents out there.
That doesn’t mean that I’d want to see it. Putting children in peril is a cheap and easy way to generate an emotional reaction out of an audience. And, once again, speaking as a parent, I’m pretty much done with that trend. I have enough dangers in real life aimed at my kid that it keeps me up at night. I don’t need to see it on the screen.
Other than that, the film seems like it is made on Halle Berry’s performance. If there was any other actress in the role, the film might not have been worth a second glance.
Next week, the dog days of summer continue with new releases including an animated sequel nobody asked for, a horror sequel that features the DCEU’s newest director, and a book adaptation that was a long time coming.