The Dark Tower
Starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Dennis Haysbert, Claudia Kim
The long-awaited Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower is a disaster on nearly every level. The most confounding part of it is how any movie with Elba and McConaughey could be this bland. The “McConaissance” has officially ended. Looking at the selection of King novels adapted to the big screen, there are more duds than celebrated ones. The Dark Tower’s biggest blunder is dropping the audience into the middle of a world we don’t understand. So many different portals, worlds, characters, creatures, with lingo like “watch your shine”, that invalidate the entire project. This mixture of genres which include fantasy, science fiction, western, coming of age, action, are never articulately blended together. One scene is a page out of one genre, when moments later it feels like we are in a completely different movie.
Teenager Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has the same reoccurring dreams each night. He sees a gunslinger named Roland (Elba) in some, others a man in black (McConaughey) who wants to destroy a dark tower that keeps the darkness from invading Jake’s reality. Mom (Katheryn Winnick) think’s he is delusional; the therapist blames everything on the death of Jake’s father. The decision is made to institutionalize Jake, but the people who show up to take him away have also appeared in his dream. On the run, Jake discovers a portal that leads him to another reality where he meets the dangerous men from his dreams and drawings. Roland agrees to protect the boy as they both seek to eliminate the Man in Black before he destroys the tower.
The “McConaissance” has officially ended.
Questions The Dark Tower never answers: Why does McConaughey’s evil sorcerer character want to destroy the tower and the world. Why there are no more gunslingers. If the Man in Black’s power is so great that he can whisper to everyone to die, why doesn’t he just do that? How come The Gunslinger can resist the sorcerer’s power? There are so many more, but it’s not worth covering. And it isn’t just the unanswered questions, in his first major role Tom Taylor doesn’t create much of a spark. He isn’t alone, Oscar winner McConaughey is horribly miscast as the villain. This should have been Elba’s movie to save, and while he is the real hero, the dialogue and character development fail him. They get the diversity right, but who cares when it’s for a bad movie, most people don’t want to see.
Some of the location sequences combined with good special effects make for some beautiful shots, but again, who cares about cool locations when the movie is terrible. Boredom is what I felt most while watching The Dark Tower, it never brings the audience in to invest in characters or scenarios. This guy is good, this guy is bad, this guy is the key, and the tower is real dark. That’s about the depth of the thing. For such an expansive series, the movie is a quick sit, hitting 95 minutes, but you will be begging for the end after only 30 minutes. It’s too dark for younger children yet at the same time it’s far too ludicrous and silly for intellectuals. The Dark Tower brings the summer blockbuster season to an end as we transition to more dramas and then awards fare.
Bafflingly bad, from casting to story design, everything misses the mark.