The Dark Tower Review: I Aim For My 95-Minutes Back
The Dark Tower is the latest Stephen King adaptation brought to life on the big screen. It’s a movie about inter-dimensional beings, darkness, monsters and a child’s ability to destroy or save the universe. Yes, the key to the universe is a child’s mind, and I’m sure the novelization is a great work of fiction from the master himself. This chopped-to-bits mess of a franchise starter directed by Nikolaj Arcel is headed for the $5 Blu-ray bin at your local Walmart by Halloween.
The Dark Tower centers around a troubled young boy named Jake (Tom Taylor). Jake has countless visions of fire, darkness, and a man in black using children’s minds to destroy a tower that protects the universe from—you guessed it—darkness. His dreams seem to be directly correlated with a massive earthquake phenomenon that’s spreading around the world. When he dreams of a gunslinger named Roland (Idris Elba), it is his mission to run away from his exhausted mother and stereotypical step-father to find a portal to this other world.
That all happens within the first 10 minutes of the film, so you can imagine my frustration with the god-awful pacing and editing done by Sony executives. This is one of the multiple issues affecting The Dark Tower. In a matter of minutes, we are introduced to something that, on paper, would be a fully-realized and interesting exploration of other worlds. There is so much going on, the audience can’t even process it because there is so much happening with nothing explained. I’m not talking about an art-house film up for interpretation. This is some seriously poor storytelling. This “Mid-world” looks fascinating. There are devilish, furry-looking humans who wear human skin at all times and a man in black with his crystal balls that allow him to be anywhere—it’s all really neat! The problem is that the characters introduced around this world aren’t interesting, and the fantastical elements of it all feel “normal.”
It’s a shame, really, considering the talent that’s on screen. Idris Elba is always a warm presence, and his acting range is phenomenal. He is without question the best part of this movie; he actually gives a pretty damn committed performance of this vengeful gunslinger. His relationship with Jake as the backbone to the “emotional core” of the story is strikingly natural, with young Tom Taylor giving it his all, trying to hold his own against Elba.
The biggest waste of talent is Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black, AKA the devil. Arcel portrayed his performance as very serious instead of working with McConaughey’s strengths. I was expecting a fun, wise-cracking performance full of one-liners, but instead, they turned one of the most charismatic actors working today and physically take that charm out. He wasn’t menacing, nor did he have any real motivation.
I know The Dark Tower has its set audience out there, I would say between the ages of 10-18. They will flock to the theater for the opening weekend, have a blast, and forget everything about it in less than 24 hours.
The Dark Tower opens on August 4th, 2017