“The Dark Tower” is the latest Stephen King novel adaptation to hit the big screen. It’s actually based on a series of books – and there had been a series of directors attached to this project, including J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard.
Eventually, Nikolaj Arcel was confirmed to direct once the movie finally got going in production. However, the week of “The Dark Tower”’s release, it was revealed that Sony reportedly considered replacing Arcel following poor test screenings last October. Never a good sign when there’s a giant, dark cloud hanging over a movie that’s about to open.
“The Dark Tower” presents the most basic good vs. evil story possible. On the good side is the Gunslinger (played by Idris Elba). He’s the last of his kind in a distant galaxy, and though fond of violence, he only uses his guns when necessary.
The evil is the Devil himself – in this case called The Man in Black. He is the source of everything bad in the world. He’s using the mind power of innocent children to try to destroy The Dark Tower, the only thing protecting the universe from complete annihilation. Matthew McConaughey seemed like a solid casting choice, but he’s not allowed to be nearly menacing or devious enough. He does get to deliver some unintentionally funny lines: When someone tells him to “Go to Hell”, The Man in Black responds, “Been there. Now burn!”
When he learns about a boy living in NYC named Jake who has special mental powers, including being able to see him and the Gunslinger in his dreams, the Man in Black decides this kid is the one who will help him to finally bring down the tower. Tom Taylor gives a decent performance as Jake. However, he can’t prevent “The Dark Tower” from descending further and further into predictable movie hell.
You’d hope that a supernatural action film, with source material from Stephen King, and two major lead actors, would add-up to more than what “The Dark Tower” delivers. Instead, this is a bland film, with thinly-written characters and little energy. The few action scenes dropped into the dull script are uninspired. And the editing is messy.
To keep King fans interested, there are several references to some of his other works sprinkled throughout the movie. I spotted ones for “1408” and “It”, which has a film version coming-out in September.
For now, it’s safe to say this King adaptation doesn’t have “It”.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The Dark Tower” gets a disappointing D.
Running Time: 95 min.