The Dark Tower. Was it Really That Bad? Spoiler Free Review
When the Dark Tower was announced I was cautiously optimistic about the potential success of such an undertaking. Stephen Kings eight book series weaves such a massive web of lore, characters, action and fantastical elements that it seemed too big to attempt as a single movie adaptation. Now I haven’t read any of the books since I was a freshmen in high school so this won’t be a book vs. movie comparison. I’m not much of a fan of those comparisons anyways. Books will always be able to fit in more information and your mind paints it’s own story as you read. A big screen adaptation will never live up to your expectations in that sense. So was the Dark Tower a good MOVIE? The short answer is no, not really. It was far from the worst movie i’ve seen and I don’t think it deserves as much hate as it’s receiving (as a movie,) but it’s definitely not a win. The movie is a rushed, glossed over attempt to fit too much content into a single feature length film. It’s the kind of movie where stuff just happens and you move on. Who’s that guy? Why should I care about her? Wait he’s sad because why? These are just a few questions you’ll find yourself asking repeatedly. It’s like listening to a story that a group of close friends is reminiscing on while you pretend to understand the inside jokes, setting, and plot. You get that There is a beginning, middle and end, and that it sounds exciting, but you don’t really care. Bad guy wants to destroy universe, important child has ability to stop it, child finds help from unlikely characters, etc, etc.
Idirs Elba (Roland The Gunslinger) was probably the best part of the movie. He is a fantastic actor in everything he does and he carried most of the films weight. His gunslinger moves were cool at times, but some of the effects didn’t quite line up with his physical movements, which looked weird sometimes. Idris also looked super bad ass in his cowboy get up and I hope he decides to dress like that forever. Matthew McConaughey (The Man in Black) was himself, as always. I liked seeing him as a villain but they never really made me feel scared of him. He has his goons do most of his work for him and when he does decide to get his hands dirty we never actually see it on camera. I think what could have been his most impactful scenes fell victim to the PG-13 rating. He wasn’t bad but I think you could replace him with any number of good actors and I would feel the same about the character. Tom Taylor is fairly new to Hollywood and he did a decent job as Jake Chambers. I felt like the rushed pace of the beginning of the film cut short a lot of his emotional back story. I understood what they were doing with his character, since it’s been done so many times before, I just didn’t care. There were several moments where his character seemed to make attachments or emotional turns that had no establishing event and went completely unresolved or explained. In one scene in particular (MINOR SPOILER,) Jake enters an old house where he finds a portal. Before he walks through it he is attacked by a swarming mass of floor boards which swallows him whole (SPLINTER ALERT.) As quickly as the attack happens, it ends and he walks through the portal, relatively unharmed, and I had no idea why any of that happened. They kinda sorta touch on it later in the movie but why bother at that point. There were also some side characters that seemed like they were going to matter later but don’t hold your breath.
It’s hard to tell if this movie didn’t work because of the writing, the director (Nikolaj Arcel,) studio interference, or maybe this movie was just doomed from the start. The source material is just too vast for one installment. Yes, they could make more to build on the story i’m just not so sure that they should. It was an entertaining spectacle as long as you turn of the part of your brain that tries to make sense of things. Also try not to laugh at some of the Airbender quality fight choreography, costumes, acting and stunt work. I’m curious to see how Stephen King responds to this movie since he wasn’t a fan of the Shining which is still, in my opinion, the best adaptation of one of his books, to this day. I’d say wait to rent or stream this one when you’re home, sick. It’s a good background filler that you could shelf right next to your copy of National Treasure. The shine was not strong with this movie and unfortunately it looks as though the tower has fallen.