I could do individual posts on each of these things but I didn’t get a chance to post last week and if I get too behind on the things I want to write about I’ll never get back to them – so. A little bit of a roundup here.
The Dark Tower Movie – Jack Chambers IS NOT Tyler Marshall
Y’all, I have a Dark Tower quote (“there are other worlds than these”) tattooed on my right forearm. You could say I’m kind of attached to this story. Fortunately I know enough to be highly skeptical about any attempt to translate it into film. As excited as I was about the casting and as much as I flailed when the pictures of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey in costume were released (because I knew those two would knock their roles out of the park even if I wasn’t happy with the script) I never believed that they’d really do it. Not really. And then it became clear that what they were filming was … a sort of alternate version of the story which, had they done it well, could’ve been perfectly valid within the bounds of the story, but I didn’t trust that they’d do it well.
And they didn’t.
Sometimes these things just make so little sense – who sat at a meeting and said “It isn’t enough that the Tower holds the entire universe together – it isn’t enough that the universe would just cease to be without the Tower – there have to be MONSTERS. MONSTERS I TELL YOU.”
And who said “this movie ought to be all about the relationship between Jake and Roland, except that story gets pretty messy, and we don’t want the kid to die even a single time … hey, the kid in Black House gets rescued, maybe we could steal some of his story.” Because I really think they took Tyler Marshall’s story and imposed it onto Jake – Tyler was the powerful psychic who could’ve brought down the Tower, not Jake. Devar-Toi was not a horrorshow of kids strapped into chairs – the place in the movie seemed far more similar to The Big Combination in Black House. And while I like Black House, IT IS NOT THE SAME STORY. That movie was not a story about Roland and Jake in a different timeline. That movie was not about Roland or Jake. I’m not quite sure what that movie was, other than a hot mess.
I will say my excitement about the cast was well founded – Idris and Matthew were both brilliant, and both of them had moments where they really shone through despite the script. I really liked the kid playing Jake; he would’ve been even better if he’d been able to play ACTUAL JAKE THE WAY JAKE IS ACTUALLY FUCKING WRITTEN. Same with Idris – god he would’ve been amazing playing ACTUAL ROLAND. AUGH.
But like I said, I expected this going in, so I wasn’t surprised – really, just frustrated, because that was so much wasted potential. They could’ve done such a cool thing, and they didn’t. Maybe one day someone will get ahold of this story and make a full-fledged high-budget cable or Netflix or Amazon TV series out of it because that’s the only way that it’s going to work. Until then, I’m pretty relieved that the line I have tattooed on my arm – which is one of the central lines of the story – wasn’t ever uttered in the mess of a movie.
Spider-Man: Homecoming / Spider-Man: Brofest
Here’s the thing – I’m a Marvel movie fangirl. I see all of them. I always love them. They’re so much fun, I love how they all interconnect, the characters are lovable and hilarious and frequently pull my heartstrings. It’s a geeky franchise done right. And Spider-Man was all of those things – it was fun, it had just the right amount of Tony to keep him involved without letting him take over Peter’s story, it set up a world for a new franchise that has a lot of potential … but I just couldn’t get past the fact that this was, I think, the worst Marvel Studios has ever done as far as having any female characters that actually get to fucking do something.
Yes, they set up Michelle and she’s going to be awesome in future movies but did she really have to stay so far in the background in this one? The character in the movie that interested me the most and they didn’t let her do a single damned thing. There’s no reason that she couldn’t have gotten into some adventure with Ned to help support Peter – something. Marvel is usually so much better about this – I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t come up with an example of any of the Marvel Studios movies that has such a low level of participation by female characters.
And yes, it’s thrown into even more sharp relief by the fact that I saw Wonder Woman not long ago. The thing is, I wanted Marvel to get there first with the female hero lead. They didn’t. They’re working on Captain Marvel but that’s going to be a while. Usually, though, they’ve got some ladies up in there, doing shit. Even if it’s not Gamora or Black Widow kicking ass it’s Jane doing science or Pepper holding shit together – something. So the lack in this one was so striking to me. Guys, come on. There’s just no excuse. Marvel excels at movies that expertly juggle a lot of characters doing a lot of different things – they absolutely could’ve given at least one woman more of an active role. Even if the movie didn’t pass The Bechdel Test (and some Marvel movies do!), they could’ve done better. There’s no reason they couldn’t have done better.
I’m not in a fight with Marvel – I still love them and I’m wicked stoked about Ragnarok and Black Panther, this one just let me down a little.
The House of the Spirits
This week I finished reading The House of the Spirits, which covered Read Harder 2017 challenge #4 – Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
This was a beautiful book with a scope that manages to be epic (it tells the story of three generations of women) without ever losing its center or distancing itself too much. It takes place in Chile and made me want to learn more about Chilean history. The latter part of the story covers the revolution in the seventies and listening to this audiobook in parallel with the news from Venezuela lately was a bit on the creepy side. People unable to find food in the grocery stores, political opponents being disappeared – knowing that these parts of the novel are based on history is one thing; knowing that these same things are happening in the world right now is another. It really made me want to understand more about the histories and trajectories of South America; there’s so much I don’t know. One more thing on the “Things Jess Wants To Learn” pile.
Storywise, what makes or breaks most books for me is whether the characters draw me in, and this book absolutely succeeded on that front. I loved how complex they all were. I loved Clara – how do you not love Clara? – but there were times when I wanted to grab her and shake her. She was so brilliant and insightful but she let so many things slide without doing anything to change them; she so frequently checked out instead of acting. I adored Alba and identified with her the most. I despised Esteban but couldn’t help but feel empathy for him at the end, which seems to be exactly what Allende intended; I love the message of humanity, the unavoidable cycle of hurt and violence but the importance of love and forgiveness and healing that she brings to the ending. Yet another author I’ve tried for the first time through this challenge that I intend to return to.