• Guy Jeffries

The Dark Tower Review


Director: Nikolaj Arcel.

Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Dennis Haysbert, Jackie Earle Haley, Claudia Kim, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Nicholas Pauling, Michael Barbieri.

I'm not sure if this was as highly anticipated than what was expecting, with fans possibly having little to no expectations, or shunning the film altogether. Myself, not having read any of the source material was eager to see what all the fuss was about. A dear friend of mine raved about these books and urged me to read them, something I have yet to still honour.

It's based on the epic novels by the famed Stephen King which spanned seven books and is said to have connections with many of King's novels and universe, including It, The Stand and Salem's Lot. The film actually showing many references and Easter eggs to his many of his previous novels throughout possibly being very obvious to die-hard King fans.

The adaptation has been around for a while, firstly with J.J. Abrams at the helm, then Ron Howard before the rights going to Arcel; a screenplay-writer-come-director who's best work is possibly the screenplay adaption to the first Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film. It's quite a responsibility to take, making a film of these novels and I can only assume he's a fan. However it had already gone through a $6million reshoot after very poor responses during initial test screenings and still, it doesn't feel like the epic it should be.

Fairly short for a Stephen King novel adaptation. But after doing some digging, it's shockingly far too short and instead this should have been a series of films instead of butchering the expansive world(s) of seven novels and squeezing it all into 95mins. Not even an expected 2hr runtime! I bet this has both insulted and infuriated fans of the books. However, it's now been reported that this is strangely a follow up on the books, continuing when the books end and there is a planned TV series, covering the books to be released for 2018/19, with Arcel still at the helm and Elba playing the Gunslinger.

King has stated he was influenced by Lord of the Rings and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when writing these books and I can't see any of this influence within the film and I do wonder how King feels about this adaption. It has always been a challenge to put a book to screen with bookworms often saying "the book is better" and King's novels are especially difficult.

The world, or worlds in this case are under threat with only the Dark Tower seated at the epicentre of this universe, that protects everything from unknown horrors beyond. The Man in Black is trying to build down this tower, with a Gunslinger hot on his heels not to stop him, but to avenge. All the Man in Black needs is the powerful mind of a child and he scours the world's looking for it.

McConaughey is brilliant as the Man in Black, walking around being like a personified Satan. His part reminded me a lot of Byrnes' Satan from End of Days. He does outshine Elba's Gunslinger sadly, who, is good but Elba never seems to get a part that does him justice. I like him, I really do. It's just I can't seem to ever get behind his characters. A lot of the attention is focused on the Boy, Jake, played very well by Taylor, but he isn't enough to save this film.

The shooting is the best bit of the film, being quite creative using classic revolvers in mass shoot-outs. It's the only element that brings out the western theme. But overall it lacks any great impact and there's isn't enough character or backstory development, making the ending slightly anticlimactic. Parts felt more like a Stranger Things episode, and that's not a dig at Stranger Things, I loved the series, but parts and the tone of the film felt borrowed from there.

It's probably a first having a feature length film conclude the story to then have a TV series prequel it. Though it could spur some interest behind things unexplained in the film that non readers would not be familiar with. Sadly it's fairly lame and there's nothing outstanding, epic or anything feeling original here. If this the end of the story then I don't hold much hope for the series.

Running Time: 5

The Cast: 6

Performance: 6

Direction: 5

Story: 5

Script: 5

Creativity: 5

Soundtrack: 5

Job Description: 1

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

44% 5/10

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