THE DARK TOWER:
IDRIS ELBA AND MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY’S PERFORMANCES ARE THE HIGHLIGHT OF THIS SHALLOW WESTERN-THRILLER!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower
I’m guessing I won’t be the only person confused after seeing this movie and realizing it’s a continuation of the original series of books by Stephen King…I need to start reading more. From director, Nikolaj Arcel (King’s Game, Truth About Men, A Royal Affair) and produced by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Robert Langdon trilogy) comes The Dark Tower, based on Stephen King’s novel series of the same name.
We all know movies based on Stephen King novels are hit or miss like the universally beloved film adaptations of The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption or more campy territory like the It mini-series and The Langoliers...or the just plain bad like Dreamcatcher, still I had some interest in checking the film out after seeing the trailers despite having no knowledge of the books.
Sadly, the film left me quite disappointed, it isn’t terrible or even 19% Rotten Tomatoes bad (Seriously guys?) but the potential of the plot gets lost in scatterbrained pacing, lack of detail, and things that would confuse people who aren’t familiar with the books. While it has some interesting ideas in the story and some exciting western action, and the performances by Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Interstellar) and Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus, Star Trek: Beyond) are debatably the best thing in the movie, the plot comes off as generic “Good VS Evil” storytelling and a rehash of much better thriller, sci-fi, and western movies, and when Elba and McConaughey aren’t slinging guns or using satanic powers, the movie’s actually kind of boring and predictable.
The film follows an 11-year-old adventure-seeking boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who discovers clues about another dimension known as Mid-World. As he gets closer to uncovering the mystery he is spirited away to Mid-World where he meets a Gunslinger named Roland Deschain (Elba) and the two of them set off on a quest to reach the Dark Tower that resides in End-World and holds the entire universe together, and get to the nexus point between time and space to save all existence from extinction by the vicious sorcerer the Man in Black (McConaughey) who will do everything in his power to make the Dark Tower crumble and plunge the universe into the apocalypse.
The film also stars Claudia Kim (Brain, Marco Polo, Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Arra Champignon, Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods, Death of a Salesman, Much Ado About Nothing) as Pimli, Abbey Lee Kershaw (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Neon Demon, Office Christmas Party) as Tirana, Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Watchmen, The Tick (2016)) as Sayre, Katheryn Winnick (Cloud 9, Cold Souls, Vikings) as Laurie Chambers, Dennis Haysbert, the Allstate guy (24, Far from Heaven, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) as Steven Deschain, Michael Barbieri (Little Men, Spider-Man: Homecoming) José Zúñiga (Ransom, Con Air, Mission: Impossible III) as Dr. Hotchkiss, and De-Wet Nagel (Lost Boys: The Thirst, Safe House) as Taheen Tech.
Overall, The Dark Tower is a pretty underwhelming addition to the Stephen King film library and sadly not in an enjoyably dumb way like some of the other films based on his work. The movie immediately expects you to know what happens in the books and I’m imagining if I did I’d probably be panning this movie like everyone else but what really does piss me off about this movie is that it’s supposed to be a continuation of The Dark Tower books…except there’s a bit of a problem with that, YOU NAMED THE MOVIE THE DARK TOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, if you’re not familiar with the books (like me) you’ll probably be confused by several plot elements that don’t really add up on their own and if you are familiar with them you’ll most likely be pissed off.
The plot has some interesting ideas but they’re stitched together with predictable and unoriginal storytelling. One moment it’s like The Da Vinci Code trilogy, the next it’s Star Trek, then it’s a western movie, and then it becomes Thor or Wonder Woman, seriously most of the film’s plot does a lot more borrowing and rehashing of other movies over creating new or interesting ideas and characters.
But with all that said, the stuff that’s good is pretty damn good, the western-style action is absolutely thrilling and offers plenty of variety ranging from silly to legitimately awesome. The supernatural themes of the movie and it has a unique mix of sci-fi in there that doesn’t feel really forced.
Of course, let’s not forget Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, pretty much both their performances are the main highlight of the entire movie. Idris Elba as a Gunslinger from another dimension (I mean, come on!), sure he’s got a few corny moments of dialogue but he still manages to kick ass and be a decently-developed character that you’ll want to root for in the end and McConaughey dominates as the Man in Black, pretty much a take on the Devil and he is just enjoying every minute of his performance and I’m still debating whether or not he’s intimidating or ridiculous, either way he’s a win.
I just wish the story could make just as much of an impression as its two leads because there is definitely some good things in here except they’re bombarded with a lot of bad stuff. It’s not a very good movie, is it one of the absolute worst I’ve seen all year? Not even close, I sat through crap like Rings, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Emoji Movie this year and trust me this is Schindler’s List compared to those.
If you’re a fan of Stephen King, Idris Elba, and/or Matthew McConaughey then maybe you’ll find something to enjoy in The Dark Tower. But if you’re looking for something good to see this weekend go see Detroit or An Inconvenient Sequel.