Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Jackie Earle Haley and Katheryn Winnick
Run Time: 1h 35min
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
1 1/2 out of 5 Frames
By: Shari K. Green
By now, we’re all used to movies being two hours long, right? That’s the norm these days. With The Dark Tower at only 95 minutes, I felt I had just adjusted myself in the seat and I was hopping out of it again headed home. Part of why it felt short was because what should have been an imaginative and vivid excursion across worlds, that promised so much, was dark (as in hard to see) and dull; almost as exciting as someone reading a menu. Well, maybe not THAT dull. There are a few moments that will thrill you. The scenes that center on guns and bullets are quite enterprising but that’s about all The Dark Tower brings. A scene fighting monsters is so amateurish if I had been watching a student film, I would have graded it higher.
Perhaps directed by someone other than Nikolaj Arcel, who doesn’t have very much directing experience other than the film, A Royal Affair, we would have a much better, action-packed, colorful thriller on our hands. Arcel may want to stick to writing which he is very good at doing. As it is, we have this disjointed, routine, uninspired misfire that falls short of the expectations of, not only the general audience but of most of the Stephen King fans that have seen it.
The Dark Tower is a movie based on a series of eight King books; it’s number seven in the set. The Tower, itself is a point where all universes connect. The film is about Good vs. Evil but doesn’t give the impression that it believes in either. Being that it’s a series, bringing number seven about doesn’t make sense and also leaves one to wonder if the previous six books are crammed into one film. If so, this could be why it appears to be so vexing and why King fans are not or will not be too happy. What is being missed and what is the point in doing this to a wonderful, successful series?
Anyway, rather quickly, we are introduced to the antagonist of the tale, the Man in Black, played mutedly by Matthew McConaughey. We also meet Jake Chambers, (Tom Taylor). He’s a young boy who has the ‘Shine.’ The Shine, referenced also in the King book and film, The Shining, is an amazing psychic ability. The presence is strong with this one! The Man in Black only wants to use Jake’s powers to his advantage to destroy the Tower but is also aware that the ‘mind of a child’ can work against him and this plan.
We then make the acquaintance of the protagonist, Roland (Idris Elba), also known as a Gunslinger. His guns are made from the metal of the Excalibur and he is the last living Knight who has the strength to defend the universe against the Man in Black. What’s on the other side of the universe is death and destruction and the Tower is the only thing holding it back. Children like Jake, and their strong, potent, telepathic minds, are being used to attack the Tower.
In the beginning, we see that Jake has fevered dreams about the destruction of his world. He stumbles on the mid-world of his dreams and meets the Gunslinger. This Gunslinger is sold as powerful and almost unbeatable but the film almost immediately turns on that theme and shows him to be weak and vulnerable to a tiny stab and to infection. Jake meets Roland, teams up with him to help stop evil from winning, there are battles and… The End. Yes. It’s like that.
So, maybe if you love the books and would like to examine this close enough to look for a few of the Easter eggs within, such as the Shine and the Man in Black seeming to resemble Randall Flagg, the bad guy from, The Stand, check it out for the curiosity factor. I’d recommend going to the matinee or waiting for cable release. Either way, you’re going to be disappointed in the results. Maybe pick up a book instead?