Stephen King’s The Dark Tower has been the kind of property that a number of people have wanted to adapt for the big screen for years now. While knowing only a little bit about this series of books, I can assume it’s taken so long because there are a plethora of directions that whoever made it could take it due to the material. If that’s true, it’s easy to understand how choosing the right way to handle such an expansive series could be difficult. Then again, it’s also true that what we actually get proves that maybe they should have left it alone for at least a little while longer.
In this movie, Walter O’Dim aka The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) has his sights set on destroying what’s known as the Dark Tower. Doing so would allow him to send everything into chaos as it’s the only thing holding the entire universe together. The only reason why he hasn’t done it yet is because of Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), a sharpshooting gunslinger who has spent an eternity preventing it from being destroyed. To this point, the battle of wills has raged on, but the arrival of a misunderstood teen (Tom Taylor) may actually turn out to be the deciding factor in whether or not the tower falls or remains standing.
In choosing a story to help make The Dark Tower into a movie, the people behind the scenes decided to turn it into somewhat of a conventional movie about a battle between “good and evil” with a teenage boy at the center of it. To a great extent, The Dark Tower features plenty of things that we’ve all seen before throughout the years. For myself, this is disappointing since there’s apparently so much more that the books had to offer. I understand why they would choose the safe approach, but because it’s such an ambitious and unique property, taking a more risky dive into this world should have been seen as requirement.
The failures of The Dark Tower don’t fall at the feet of Idris Elba. In fact, he’s easily the best thing the entire movie has to offer and keeps it from being worse than mediocre. From the early going, you can see that he carries with him a great deal of screen presence along with a personality and disposition that makes his character an intriguing one. With all of this combined, it will not only make you wish this was a better movie, it will also make you want to watch a movie where he’s at the center so we can dig deeper into his psyche and follow his complete journey.
Unfortunately, we don’t come all that close to getting that here. We get a glimpse the life that he’s lived, but it’s short and sometimes only comes in the form of dialogue. When that happens, it makes it seem like they’re just trying to get this part of the movie out-of-the-way. I don’t usually mind short films, but The Dark Tower proves to be one of those rare occasions where I will say that a movie would have benefited from being longer than what it is.
Extending things a bit here could have allowed for essentially the same plot while also building up the characters played by Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. By the time we meet them, they’re fully fleshed out characters who only have one dimension for us to see. Even if you don’t change a great deal about the people they’re playing, it allows for them to show more parts of who they are. This makes Elba’s gunslinger look even more like a hero while making McConaughey’s Man in Black appear to be even more vicious and heartless.
Instead of that, we get something that primarily focuses on the kid. His role isn’t bad, but he doesn’t offer as much as the other two could offer in terms of action and stakes. In some ways, he’s just going along with what’s happening on-screen even though he’s the only character in the movie with any real development. I guess the problem with that is that we have to wait until we get closer to the end before his real development starts to show up. Giving the audience more of the other guys and more of what I view as decent action would have likely helped keep us entertained until we got to that point.
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Jackie Earle Haley
Film Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
- Score - 5/105/10