A confused, dreamlike, challenging book.
We meet Roland, a lone traveler who is pursuing an ancient enemy, The Man in Black. Roland is a gunslinger, a cross between a Wild West lawman and a medieval knight, and that he is the last guardian of a world that has “moved on”. What this means is something he can’t say, but it may have been a nuclear war.
He is trying to find (via the Man in Black) the Dark Tower, an existential pylon that supports all the worlds in the universe. Roland believes that the Dark Tower is in jeopardy, and that if it fell all would be lost.
Why he’s taking the trouble is a mystery, since everything in his world is either dead or dying. Mutants, demons, endless deserts, crazy preachers, and men with the heads of animals are common sights. Technology seems to have regressed to that of the turn-of-the-century Wild West, although from time to time he encounters relics from a technological past (notably an abandoned shopping mall). Occasionally, Roland reminisces about his idyllic childhood in the green land of Gilead, and hopes that life will once again be like that someday.
The book – even in the revised edition King put out not too long ago – reads like a drug trip, and can be a little hard to follow. Nobody has a straight conversation: they talk in stilted and elliptical sentences that sound like they’ve been passed around a Chinese Whispers circle one too many times. King plays tricks with the narrative (the first couple of scenes play out in reverse chronological order), and you get the sense that time and space are decaying in Roland’s world, along with technology.
It was written by a young man (as King points out in the introduction), and there’s a vibe of “this much obscurity will absolutely score me points at my college writer’s circle!” going on, but the story, once you deconvolve it, is simple. The plot is simple. Just a guy chasing another guy.
In its final pages, the book unexpectedly sticks in the knife and twists. Roland is offered a choice, and makes what seems like the only correct choice: to damn his soul. It’s described in mute, understated terms, but it’s unusually effective.
The story truly takes flight in The Drawing of the Three (which may be my favorite of King’s works), and then crashes down to earth in later volumes. Roland will be fine. The books, on the other hand…
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A movie incomprehensible past an event horizon of description. Rearrange the scenes at random and it might make more sense. Replace every fourth word with “waffle”, “spinach” or “collywobbles” and the dialogue would attain new heights of legibility. I can’t tell what the characters are doing, or why. I can’t tell what the writer is doing, or why.
Badness is caused by many factors, and these factors stack like energy requirements on a Pokemon trading card. If enough factors are present (shoestring budget + incompetent writer + incompetent director + horrible foreign translation) it is said that a movie will evolve to Badness Level 3, and unleash a devastating Crap Vortex attack upon the world, ripping a hole in space and time. This is classic example (and a classic in no other sense of the word): a 2002 Indonesian animated feature made by a man called Joseph Lai. I doubt he knows or cares, but Lai is fast becoming a legend in the underground film community, and brain-melting, monkey-raping works of lunacy like this are the reason why.
The alleged plot of the alleged movie is that there’s an angel who gets kicked out of heaven for falling in love with a mortal man. She’s the main character, until she vanishes from the movie, and we’re left with the angel’s handmaiden, who descends down to hell (I think) and becomes queen of a couple of demons (or something). Transition to two guys who are searching for a sword. One of the guys journeys down to hell and meets the angel’s handmaiden and falls in love with her even though she sent monsters to kill him. They have sex (fully clothed), and she has a baby. Literally, right there. One minute after he met her.
Beauty and Warrior isn’t really a “so bad it’s good” cult classic midnight movie. The nonsensical story drags like a one-legged turtle, with the runtime padded out by superfluous crap. Even the fights are as boring as fuck. You know the deal, long drawn out scenes where the two fighters stare into each other’s eyes…on and on and on. Other animes do it. This one does it worse.
Production values are several steps below cut-rate. There’s a one minute sequence where the hero is flying through a rocky tunnel, and it’s just the same footage repeating over and over. Late in the movie there’s a part that isn’t even animated. It’s just a card with voice-overs over it.
Voice acting is horrible, with the dubbing apparently done by tourists abducted from Jakarta’s streets by gunpoint. It’s probable that the movie makes more sense in its native tongue. In English there’s often no correlation between what the characters say and what actually happens on screen.
Beauty and Warrior was an experience. Getting a testicle caught in a particle accelerator is also an experience. Don’t watch, seek out, or think about this movie.
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