The Dark Tower

If you're someone, such as myself, who has failed to read The Dark Tower, you may be as lost as I was with what is happening here. Director Nikolaj Arcel and the writing team of Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, and Anders Thomas Jensen spend little time explaining the world this all takes place in. The Tower is an enormous structure in the center of the universe, keeping bad things away from those that are good. Our hero is Roland Deschain aka The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), who can shoot down demons from miles away and walks with a western swagger. Young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) lives in New York and has a “chosen one” vibe, like the star of a YA Novel. His haunting dreams inspire him to sketch the creatures he sees, as they hunt for children and use human skin to cover their appearance. They are all under the spell of a stalking man dressed in black, who goes by the name of Walter (McConaughey). With a goal to tear down the tower, it becomes up to little Jake and his new pistol firing friend to stop the Man in Black from wreaking havoc in his attempts to destroy the universe.

The Dark Tower's two major problems are a combination of bad direction and awful editing. Arcel seems to be biting off more than he can chew. At all times, Elba and McConaughey do their best to make the action exciting and the dialogue fun, only problem is we can barely see anything that happens. There are multiple scenes where I could not tell you what creatures are attacking. The cinematography from Rasmus Videbaek is unfocused, lacking in style, and only highlights one memorable set piece, when Jake and the Gunslinger talk on a rocky cliff. Everything else feels spliced together, fast, incoherent, and in need of more structure. I began to lose count of how many times Elba saved the film with his smooth looks and witty responses. If he wasn't in this thing, it would have been the worst movie of the year.

Watching The Dark Tower, I could not help but think that Stephen King's material would be better suited for a TV series, where each week could give us more time to spend with the characters, much like HBO's new hit show Westworld. At 95-minutes, there is a surprising amount of boring moments, where the Gunslinger and the kid share stories about those they have lost, until the third act where the action speeds up, leading to a climax that has earned nothing. The inevitable showdown between Roland and Walter is short lived, a highly disappointing revelation because McConaughey carries with him enough wicked machismo to make his character fun, while Elba proves he can be the biggest action star in showbiz. Please make this man James Bond and stop giving him this crap.

Fans will leave The Dark Tower contemplating “what could have been.” The cast carries the material as far as the film can go, even then it's not enough. The aspirations are present, but the visuals are incredibly ugly. I couldn't help to be reminded of other ambitious 90's action films, such as Waterworld, Lost in Space, or Wild Wild West. There is a vast universe in what Stephen King has written in these books, but this is one big tower that can't be conquered at the movies.

2 Stars

Written by: Leo Brady





File The Dark Tower under the “it's not that bad, but it's not that good” category. Here is a movie that has two stars (Idris Elba & Matthew McConaughey), delivering their best capable performances with sub-par material on the pages, and yet it's not enough to turn the classic Stephen King fantasy series into a successful film. Instead, The Dark Tower is a mixed bag of fun performances, terrible cinematography, wacky dialogue, and boring plot points, resulting in what will be a major let-down for fans of the books and one of the biggest missed opportunities of the year.