Stephen King Fans Finally Get The Film Adaptation of The Dark Tower But Is This What They’ve Been Waiting Years For…
Ever since iconic horror author Stephen King started his epic fantasy series with The Gunslinger in 1982, fans of the writer have been waiting to see The Dark Tower series adapted for the big screen. Fans of the series finally get that chance after decades of development. However, is this the film they’ve been waiting for? In short… no.
The film follows the adventures of troubled youth Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor). Haunted by visions of The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), Jake worries for the fate of Earth while his family thinks he’s crazy. After following a vision that leads him to a portal to another world, Jake unites with the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain(Idris Elba). Together the two make an unlikely team that is the universe’s only chance to stop the Man in Black from destroying the Dark Tower and unleashing Hell on Earth.
Let’s get the positives notes out of the way first. Idris Elba as the Gunslinger Roland completely embodies the role. Even for someone like me who always pictured Roland as some Clint Eastwood-esk character Elba knocked it out of the park. He has the command and the stature to give the last Gunslinger his formidable persona with an edge to it. Sadly, Elba’s amazing performance isn’t enough to salvage the rest of the film.
Opposite Elba, McConaughey plays his archrival the Man in Black. While the casting you’d think would be perfect. McConaughey seems to phone it in and his horribly dyed black hair doesn’t help either. Instead of a menacing Man in Black that strikes fear in the hearts of our heroes and their loved ones, we get a character at almost any moment feel will try to sell you a car. During a key action sequence with the evil sorceror using his magical powers to take on Roland, McConaughey looks like a kid pretending on a playground than a truly powerful magician.
That showdown and the other action sequences make up the primary issue with the film. The special effects lack in quality and give the film the made for TV look. None of the effects or actions sequences, save for Roland’s final assault really get the blood pumping for the audience. Sadly, we get a film with lackluster adventure for a fantasy epic and more fan service for Stephen King fans with nods to other works of the author than any true world building.
Thankfully, the film is short. For what we got on the screen, that is a good thing. However, fans of King’s epic will no doubt wish they had gotten more. In fact, most viewers will likely feel that way. With more depth, more character development, and more action, The Dark Tower could have been something great. What we get is something that isn’t exactly bad, it’s just not great nor what the fans really wanted.
In all honesty, this adaptation is nothing more than your generic Young Adult adventure film ala Divergent or The Hunger Games. Considering the source material, that’s a slap in the face for King fans. For the Young Adult crowd this film should be entertaining and that’s exactly who the film is marketed and made for. However, the King fans who are buying the tickets will walk away disappointed and will have to wait another few decades before they see another shot at an adaptation.
The Dark Tower had all the right ingredients to be a great film. The source material has plenty to work with, the casting was rather inspiring, and fans were foaming at the mouth for this adaptation for years. With a better cook in the kitchen, those ingredients could have been combined for a great meal of a movie. What we get is your generic fast food drive-thru extra value meal. Except no one will see the value in this movie.
Supchucks’ Official Grade: C
The Dark Tower Official Synopsis:
The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbey Lee, Nicholas Hamilton, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, and Dennis Haysbert.
Director(s): Nikolaj Arcel
Writer(s): Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen & Nikolaj Arcel.
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures