Title – The Dark Tower (2017)
Director – Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair)
Cast – Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Dennis Haysbert, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley, Katheryn Winnick
Plot – Mid-World’s last Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Elba) finds himself teamed up with young boy Jake Chambers (Taylor), who comes from Earth and possesses a unique ability that the nefarious Man in Black (McConaughey) wants to utilise to bring down the Dark Tower and unleash destruction on all known worlds.
“I do not kill with my gun. He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart”
Review by Eddie on 18/08/2017
Let’s be clear, The Dark Tower is not (sad to say) an adaptation of Stephen King’s epic and beloved Dark Tower series of novels.
King’s work’s, that combined to become 8, each in their own way special books, have here been diluted to the point of almost unrecognizability by Denmark-born director Nikolaj Arcel, who alongside his team of 4 screenwriters that includes frequent hack Akiva Goldsman, have created a hodgepodge collection of what feel like Dark Tower’s greatest hits moments, that combine various books into one seriously quick and frequently misguided big screen experience.
It’s an extremely unfocussed attempt at adapting King’s material to screen. The story needs and deserves time to be properly built up and we get none of that, with Arcel instead turning his attention to Tom Taylor’s young Jake Chambers, who harbors an incredible ‘shine” ability that will see him become the number one target for Matthew McConaughey’s Walter aka The Man in Black.
There’s near no backstory on the landscape of Mid-World, the tower or even the Gunslingers themselves, so many who have never read King’s books will be mightily confused by some dialogue or even situations, while Arcel’s decision to focus the films attentions on Chambers makes Roland a secondary figure, in a story that was and always should’ve been about the last standing member of the Line of Eld, the last gunslinger who hasn’t forgotten the face of his father.
It’s a real shame that Idris Elba gets such short supply of things to do in this tale, while a controversial pick for Roland Deschain originally, he quickly wins us over with his undeniable charisma and gruff outward persona but Arcel doesn’t give him near enough screen time or cinematic backstory and it’s hard for us to feel like his the integral part of this story, that is both about the protection of the tower and Roland’s quest to finally put an end to Walter’s reign of terror and tyranny.
Whenever Elba and McConaughey get to go head to head the film elevates, or when we are allowed brief glimpses of the gunslingers incredible talents with gun in hand the film becomes more exciting but at the end of the day it feels more frustrating than anything as it often seems as though Arcel had no excuses to deliver such a generic and forgettable experience from a series of stories that are anything but.
His actors all could’ve done so much had they been allowed to, and it truly feels as though the film’s oft-delayed release was clearly centred around a battle in the editing suite to make both a shortened and cookie cutter version of a layered adventure and one that eschews many of King’s important yet dark and violent themes into a seen-before type of experience that appeals to the lowest common denominator possible.
Hard-core fans of the books will be mightily disappointed with these aspects, as well as key book figures like Eddie, Susannah and even Oi failing to make an appearance and while there’s fan service as such getting to see lobstrosities on screen and locations such as The Dixie Pig, none of them feel fully utilised, which you can say absolutely applies to this production that fails to take the burning fire of imagination from King’s books and instead takes a mere flicker of a flame to the big screen that all harks back to Arcel’s uninspired direction and mediocre script work.
Final Say –
The Dark Tower might not be the worst film this year; it does have moments (tiny brief moments) that nevertheless showcase just what might’ve been and Elba and McConaughey feel a league above the film they’ve been placed into, but for many of us that have been waiting these many (double) moons for a faithful big screen adaptation of King’s opus that does justice to the famed author’s most personal works, it looks like we will need to wait patiently for this to one day still occur.
Dark Tower fans: may your days be long upon the earth to see this happen.
2 after battle Hot Dogs out of 5