Stephen King – The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower #1]

Stephen King – The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower #1]

I’ve had the first book of The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, for quite some time. I think about four-odd months easy. At last I’ve picked up the novel. So is the first entry in Stephen King’s magnum opus, as he himself often similarly describes the saga?

The novel starts off with the gunslinger Roland in pursuit of a man dressed in black, who might serve to be of key importance in his quest for the Dark Tower, a tower of which he knows little and understands even less, but seeks it just the same. Roland has left behind his own world and dark past to get to Dark Tower, and along the way he makes acquaintance with people who have led similarly dark lives. The novel is set in a wasteland desert with a touch of the good ol’ Wild West feel in it. At the same time, it also gives us a hint of what could very well turn into an epic fantasy-type.

How’s the book itself? The protagonist, Roland, is not a very likable character(yet), but he is believable with his somewhat archaic notions of duty and honor, coupled with a certain ruthlessness. But the book itself felt a bit patchy in its pacing and the overall feel. Parts of it are outright brilliant, especially the action parts, but at the same time other parts felt slow-ish and just generally a wee bit uninteresting. There were moments where I actually thought of leaving the Dark Tower quest for later, but leaving a book incomplete is an action I consider to be sacrilege, so I stuck with it. At least the book ends strongly, and gave me the impetus to pick up the next book in the series.

Overall, I would say the book is good, but not an especially good one. I have read a few of Stephen King’s works, and while he is undoubtedly a brilliant writer, I feel he does occasionally go a bit bonkers in his writing. The Gunslinger suffers a bit more than usual from this, but the action parts are written in a way that’s beyond great. Anyway, for those who want to start The Dark Tower series, you might get a bit put off by this book, but hold on to the series because there are flashes of brilliance here that may spark the flame for the sequels in the series. You will like the book even more if you are a fan of the revolver-toting Westerns.

RATING : 7.3/10

 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

This is one of the classic Western films of all time, as most film-buffs know, and follows the exploits of the titular lead characters. It has been about 50 years since the film has come out, so how does it hold up now?

After watching BCatSK, I must say it holds up pretty well. It’s probably one of those movies which has no problems withstanding the test of time, and actually comes out the better for it.

So let’s get down to the story part. The film starts off with a few slides which give us some idea of the “Hole-in-the-Wall” gang’s notoriety, of which Butch Cassidy is the leader and Sundance Kid is a member. But more than a member, Sundance is a great friend of Butch. Their occupation : holding up the trains and robbing them blind. However, they aren’t very rich despite stealing loads of money, due to “Butch’s expensive ways” as Sundance puts it, more or less. But when they try to steal from the Union-Pacific Railroad one too many times, the owner of the company, E.H.Harriman, sets a bunch of specially-employed gunslingers and trackers to chase them down and kill them both. From this moment on, Butch and Sundance are on the run.

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The movie is a masterpiece of cinema : there is no sugarcoating this fact. The film flows from scene to scene like honey; there is no breakage as such in the story-telling style. Perhaps it is helped by the fact that the film follows a strictly linear story, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that BCatSK is a great film. Solid writing by William Goldman; a man who’s widely known for his novels The Princess Bride and Marathon Man among many others. The dialogues are brilliant throughout; the self-deprecatory banter between Butch and Sundance makes for more than a few chuckles. Not to mention the acting; Robert Redford as Sundance Kid, the great sharpshooter and Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, the thinker of the two, both of them are brilliant. And so is the female lead Katharine Ross playing Sundance’s love-interest, Etta Place. Great casting right there, especially when considering the fact that Robert Redford was a relatively unknown commodity at the time.

Awesome film. Must-watch for fans of Western films, although I can’t think you wouldn’t have watched this if you were a fan of the Wild West. And I’m not even a fanatic for these kind of films.

RATING : 10/10

 

PROS :
– locations
– acting
– brilliant dialogue

CONS :
-can’t really think of anything at the moment; actually I don’t see any.