August 5, 2017

The Dark Tower: Movie Review

You probably don't have much time to read a three page film review and you probably want the basics. We'll make it quick and easy to save you time. This is The Dark Tower movie review.

Stephen King's name can take a film very far and ultimately has in The Dark Tower's case. Without the name and the referencing to the eight-volume series, the film becomes an over-budgeted B-movie. It nearly has the qualifications for it. The film is short, sloppily edited, with bad attempts at humor, and a storyline that begs the question: Why even translate The Dark Tower, Stephen King's magnum opus, when this is the finished product?

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has visions of The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), and the end of the world. Unfortunately, for him, he lives on Earth where having visions and obsessing over them will get you placed into a psychiatric ward. These visions place Jake front and center to be kidnaped by The Man in Black's henchmen, also known as Skins (rat-faced creatures under human skin). After a quick confrontation with some Skins, Jake finds a portal that takes him to Mid-World where he meets The Gunslinger, Roland. Roland is as lost as a PG-13 film will get him: He doesn't believe in himself and looks only to avenge his father. Roland and Jake encounter a couple monsters, and an easter egg or two relating to other King novels, on their adventure to find The Man in Black. After a quite convoluted story that only exposits the entertainment abilities of our characters does the film start to pick up with Roland and Jake back on Earth. For a couple minutes the film changes gears into more comedy, with Roland out of place in New York City. Then, literally 10 minutes later, the third act is here and the film is over. The finale is a quick five minutes with very little happening. 

Matthew McConaughey and Abbey Lee (a Skin) in The Dark Tower; Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Elba and McConaughey are without a doubt amazing in their roles, to the point that you forget they're acting. Wouldn't be a surprise if McConaughey was a man in black whispering commands that you decidedly follow. The real standout is Taylor, whose entrance to Hollywood is through The Dark Tower. Elba and McConaughey do a lot of the fighting, but Taylor handles the heavy lifting with emotions and action. His emotional complexities transcend the abilities of most child actors.

The Dark Tower isn't all bad. Great acting and the occasional action moment keeps your eyes looking at the overall picture so you miss all the faults. The story isn't complex. It's a straight save-the-day blockbuster. But, this is a King novel; an eight-volume series. The story has it's own world with its own mythology. That mythology is dug down deep inside the vast space of the screenwriter's mind, unable to transfer to a film this short of length. Small attempts are made, but fail instantaneously. The premise then comes down to two people jumping back-and-forth to two worlds searching for a bad guy. There's so much more to The Dark Tower. We will just have to wait for the television series.

Grade: C
Good Qualities: Great acting, simple plot, somewhat fun
Bad Qualities: Short story, too much mythology, tedious

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