Review: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is an extension of the eight book series by Stephen King that follows the story of Roland, the Gunslinger and Walter, the Man in Black.

This version of The Dark Tower saga follows a young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who is having visions of mysterious land known as Mid-World. In his dreams Jake sees two men at war – The Gunslinger (Idris Elba) and The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey). Jake’s visions lead him to Mid-World where he meets the Gunslinger. He’s told about The Dark Tower that sits at the center of all worlds and protects them from darkness. The Man in Black kidnaps kids and uses them (not sure how) to take down the tower so he can release monsters and evil into all worlds.

Jake and The Gunslinger team up to stop The Man in Black and keep the tower from being destroyed.

It’s easy to see why The Dark Tower would be frustrating to watch. The story doesn’t explore the knightly order of gunslingers, the magic that exist in Mid-World, the limits to The Man in Black’s power, what exactly Jake can do, and what exactly are those kids doing hooked up to those chairs. Those details are at the heart of the story yet some are barely touched on while others aren’t even mentioned.

With a runtime just over 90 minutes, the story hits the ground running and assumes the audience is OK with, “It’s just what happens in this world” as a valid explanation for  the many questions that pop up.

Even with a very underdeveloped plot, The Dark Tower is more fun that it should be. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey carry the film, especially Elba. The Gunslinger’s interactions on Earth aka Keystone Earth are some of the best moments in the film. If there is one takeaway from Elba’s performance it’s that his charisma and style are begging for him to have his own action franchise.

The action sequences are just good enough to make the 90 mins enjoyable and move the plot along at a quicker pace.

What exactly makes Jake so special isn’t explored. The Man in Black needs him, but what exactly can Jake do that other kids can’t. When eight books worth of story is stuffed into 90 mins of film, important details like Jake’s powers will get overlooked.

The biggest frustration with The Dark Tower is its misfires. The story doesn’t spend enough time building worlds or characters to care about. It’s a film that isn’t allowed to be its own film – it’s a product set up to sell multiple sequels. Instead of flushing out the story, the film rushes the end only to tell audiences they have to put more money in if they wish to continue. It cheapens something that could’ve been an amazing adaptation. Put this same cast in a 12 episode Dark Tower series it’s a hit. Not only would it be a hit, people would be begging for a second season.

Grade: C+

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