The Dark Tower, 2017.
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel.
Starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Dennis Haysbert, Claudia Kimm, Jackie Earle Haley, Fran Kranz, and Katheryn Winnick.
The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Watching The Dark Tower fills you with a range of feelings from boredom to disappointment and surprise that such dense source material has been cobbled together with such a lack of care. Based on Stephen King’s 8 book odyssey, The Dark Tower series creates a rich and fascinating world of gunslingers, good vs evil, strong characters and ultimately ties together a lot of the King shared universe. This film which is the result of numerous false starts and production problems feels like a bunch of scenes jumbled together with no sense of real narrative and more importantly no heart.
The start of the film is promising. We meet Jake Chambers (Taylor) a young boy who has nightmares about a world ruled by the Man in Black (McConaughey) and his eternal struggle with the Gunslinger Roland (Elba). There are some great visuals and Taylor does a good job with the script he’s given. Unfortunately when he finally gets to the other world the film falls apart. There is no exposition and zero chemistry between Taylor and Elba. Maybe at some point there was, but with the 95 minute run time and streamlined plot, there is simply no time to make a connection with these characters. By the end of the movie we’re supposed to be feeling this intense connection between the two characters and it doesn’t deliver. Hollywood seems to have a tendency of wasting Idris Elba’s talents and The Dark Tower is no exception. An enigmatic presence he usually steals every scene, here he is stuck lumbering from one set piece to another. He does fare well during the few action sequences and the gun loading effects are cool. But no matter how much flair you give an action sequence, if the audience don’t have a reason to care, it simply doesn’t care.
Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black fairs much better and is able to break through some of the tedium. He is hamming it up as much as possible, but in a film so devoid of characterisation he is a breath of fresh air.
The story of The Dark Tower series is fascinating and simply couldn’t fit into 95 minutes. Its 12A rating is also a factor as a lot of elements are bloodless and restrained to appeal to a wider audience. I couldn’t help but wonder if this should have been a series of movies or a TV show. All I know is that as a film it is a complete mess with only a few redeeming features. Various references to King’s other work is littered throughout, from references to IT, The Shining, Christine and The Shawshank Redemption. The only problem is that seeing them made me wish I was watching those films instead.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★