One of the big problems with this movie, and there are many, is if you are coming in to it as a fan of the Stephen King book series or just as a curious movie goer with no prior knowledge. As your average movie fan, you will be entertained as some parts, bored in others but you might come out of the experience rather unscathed, if you are eleven years old, that is. However, as a fan of the book series, you will leave the theater frustrated, irritated and simply confused at what you just witnessed on screen.
Idris Elba (Roland/The Gunslinger), Matthew McConaughey (The Man in Black) and Tom Taylor (Jake Chambers) do their best to keep their heads, and that of the messy story, above ground. Elba and Chambers have good chemistry together and McConaughey does his best to amuse and scare us at the same time but alas, in the end it is all for not. Some of the ridiculous dialogue these actors are forced to spew out makes me wonder what they were thinking as they read through the script and then shockingly, agreed to be part of this mess.
There is also the issue with the length of the movie, which comes in at a tidy ninety five minutes. I guess this is a good thing, seeing as how the movie turned out, but I have to wonder what the powers that be behind this movie were thinking here. If you are interested in making this some sort of franchise, wouldn’t you sink more time, money and effort into the very first movie? How can you hope to tap into the multiple plot arcs and characters over eight books in an hour and a half? Maybe there was never any intention of doing this, only scaling it down to the simplest form of entertainment and throwing it out there on a wing and a prayer.
Whatever the motivation was, the movie ends up being a wasted opportunity and a waste of time. There were some nice moments, especially the laughs Elba gets when the Gunslinger in on our Earth, and Tom Taylor does a nice job as Jake but the big hate on between The Man in Black and The Gunslinger seems forced and phony, never really building up the kind of tension you would expect between two men with such an intertwined past as these two have.
Maybe the writer and director thought that dumbing down the long winding, and sometimes long winded, story lines from the book would help people, make it easier to digest and enjoy. However, they made the classic mistake, just one of many here, of thinking the audience is not smart enough to understand some plot arcs so they just eliminated them. Even worse, they made some up that ended up looking like a puzzle that a child had done, you know, when they have forced pieces into spots they didn’t belong? Yeah, that’s this movie.
There are moments when The Dark Tower is actually dark, dirty and impressive but these moments are fleeting, usually destroyed by cheesy CGI, bad writing and bizarre editing. If those behind this mess wanted to accomplish something, the only thing they can hang their hats on now is with this little disaster, they’ve probably killed any hope of taking the story further and with what I witnessed on screen that’s probably not a bad thing at all.
One and a half stars out of five
- Idris Elba and Tom Taylor work well together
- Dark and dirty served the story and movie well
- Terrible writing and awful editing
- No real tension between McConaughey and Elba
- Dumbing down a script is never a good idea