The Dark Tower Review

By Ian Crow

Based on the extremely popular and successful book by Stephen King, The Dark Tower has finally hit the big screen. Years and years of anticipation of bringing the much-loved characters to life has finally arrived. But is it the film that everyone has been waiting for? Dating back to as far as 2009, JJ Abrams was in talks for a short while to adapting the book to screen. Then came in Ron Howard, the legendary director was attached the project for a long time. Wanting to utilize the source material and make multiple films based on the books, the studio decides against the idea. In came Nikolaj Arcel, a reasonably unknown foreign director to most. He was drafted in when the studio decided to make one film on The Dark Tower and base it across numerous books. Are the alarm bells ringing yet?

I’ll put my hands up straight away and say that I haven’t read the books. I have spoken to many people who have read the series and have mentioned how brilliant they are. It’s probably Stephen King’s biggest and most popular so why would the studio go out of their way to squeeze numerous books into one very short movie? The amount of source material in the books is humongous, and the biggest problem or problems shall we say is not utilizing all the material they have. Running just over 90 minutes, it almost feels like the producers are intentionally looking to sabotage its future, if it has one. Whilst The Man in Black is effortlessly trying to take down The Dark Tower for himself in the novels, it seems as that the production companies behind it have beaten him to it.

Having not read the novels, I went into the film not knowing what to expect. The film takes off like wild-fire and throws you into the mosh pit that is the extremely complex storyline that has been ripped to shreds and expects you to understand what the hell is going on. Fans of the books will somehow keep up with what’s going on, but will be mortified to see so much not being used or explored. Personally for me, it feels a though a huge opportunity to really get the fans excited about a novel to film adaptation right has gone desperately down the drain. The production team had two options in my mind. 1) Have the guts to make 5-6 movies use the source material. 2) Skip the big screen and make an outstanding TV series. Two simple options, viably, I think TV would have been the better of the two.

Incredibly though, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey try their hardest to pick up the pieces and make something out of it. I personally enjoyed their performances as the Gunslinger and Man in Black. Elba comes across as this misunderstood, cool gunslinger that has nothing left to offer to society, whereas McConaughey’s personality resonates through his character. Maybe often at times he could be more menacing but I enjoyed his character be ruthless and slightly entertaining. There isn’t much to say at all about the supporting cast, they made little to no impact on the film whatsoever. Frustration is the key word to this film. I’m aware of how much there is to use from the books and it’s frustrating that it’s not being used. There was times when I was enjoying what I was seeing on the screen. But before you could get really comfortable, the plot moves on rapidly and you’re ending up having to adapt to the storyline changing every 5 minutes.

The fans of the books are most likely going to be the ones that feel robbed when you go to your local and pay a lot of money to see this film. I felt cheated and robbed to a sense and I don’t know the whole source material. But you can tell that something is amiss. For me it’s just pure laziness all round to think that you could make the series into one incredibly short film. At least have the decency to make it two-to-two and a half hours. Make a decent and honest attempt at recreating Stephen King’s vision. As I said before, the lead stars performances are just about enough to stop the film from becoming one of my worst of the year. They do an incredible job of covering the cracks enough to make me not to want to hate it. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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