Weekly Review: The Dark Tower (2017)

The Last Gunslinger is locked in an eternal battle to protect the dark tower from The Man in Black. When the visions of a young boy on Earth bring him into the conflict, the dark tower, and thus the fate of the world, is at stake in a battle between good and evil.

The Dark Tower is based off a book series of the same name by Stephen King. It stars Idris Elba (Pacific Rim), Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar), and Tom Taylor. It features additional roles from Jackie Earl Haley (Watchmen), Claudia Kim (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and Abby Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road). It’s directed by Nikolaj Arcel, known recently for directing the Danish film A Royal Affair.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 11.46.39 PM

As is usual for me when it comes to film adaptations of Stephen King’s work, I’m unfamiliar with the book. I haven’t read it. Seeing the trailers was the first experience I had with this material. I was excited to see Idris Elba in another lead role. I’m a very big fan of his. I was also anticipating seeing Matthew McConaughey as a villain. The trailers made him appear very menacing.

I missed this one in theaters. While waiting for a Blu-Ray release, I heard that The Dark Tower wasn’t received well. In any case, I was looking forward to it. Were the criticisms of this adaptation warranted or was it just discrepancies between the novel and the movie?

Unfortunately, I do feel that a lot of the criticisms for this movie are valid. When I watched it, I was taken aback by how hollow it felt. There was definitely a lot of action going on. There were some pretty interesting things being shown on screen, but I had a hard time caring for the characters in the situations they found themselves in. It didn’t feel like the stakes were as high as the movie was making them out to be.

This really is unfortunate because I wanted to like this movie. Even if it wasn’t necessarily a good movie, I was expecting to enjoy myself while watching it, simply because of the genre and subject matter. I wish that was how it went.

The Dark Tower is a very interesting case. The story follows a young boy who has his entire world ripped away from him. He is forced to team up with a stranger in order to unlock a power within himself, destroy the big bad, and save his home world as well as others. Yet, it doesn’t feel nearly as enthusiastic as it should feel.

I definitely got the feeling while watching this movie that the creators were more interested in starting a franchise than telling a singular story. This trend is starting to become pretty tiresome. I find myself making this critique more and more often as of late.

With that being said, there are some very dark moments in The Dark Tower. I was a bit surprised to see it, since I wasn’t familiar with the source material. At the same time, I hear that the books were even more dark and violent. Perhaps an R-rating, rather than a PG-13 rating, would have better suited the material. Who knows though? As I’ve mentioned, I didn’t read the books.

I was a bit disappointed with the performances in the movie. It really just felt lackluster overall. It tied in with the lack of enthusiasm that I was feeling throughout. I was disappointed in McConaughey as the villain. I was expecting more there. I was honestly expecting more from Idris Elba as well, but I guess he did okay. Again, I’m not familiar with how that particular character should be.

Overall, there were just too many things that were really bland for me in this movie. The run time is surprisingly short, considering it feels weighed down by a lot of stuff. I’m not sure if the planned continuations will come to fruition in the future. I’ve heard rumors about sequels and possibly even a television series, but after the reception that The Dark Tower got from critics, I’m not sure what the plans are.

If they do continue on with the story, I’m hoping to see more energy and enthusiasm. The world they created seemed pretty out there, and it would be nice to see the creators embrace that weirdness to its full potential.

I probably wouldn’t recommend this one, simply because it didn’t stand out to me. Check out the trailer below though and see if The Dark Tower seems interesting to you.

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