Review of 'The Dark Tower'

the_dark_tower.jpg Jake (Tom Taylor) is a young man troubled by disturbing dreams of children being harnessed for their power to attack the “Dark Tower”, a tower that saves the universe from the darkness. After he runs away from home when his parents seek to send him to a psychiatric retreat Jake finds a house he saw in his visions that contains a portal to another planet. Stepping through into a dessert he wanders aimlessly until he comes across Roland (Idris Elba), a mystical “Gunslinger”. Roland tells Jake his visions are real and that the Dark Tower is under attack by Walter (Matthew McConaughey) who is controlling the children. Roland and Jake return back to Earth to find Walter and save the Dark Tower…

On release this film has been the subject of much controversy due to it having taken great liberties with the source material, a series of six books by Stephen King (see my review of the first book here, including links to reviews of the other books) but let's put that aside for a minute: So, how was the film itself? Well, the story is simple and it is easy to get up to speed with what is going on (bad guy using children to destroy the universe, an odd bloke handy with guns helps a young, troubled, young man to save the universe) though there are some references that are left unexplained.

The cartoon-like action is quite amazing with Roland's “gunslinging” choreographed to the max including ever more ingenious methods of reloading his six-shooters. I did find often that this jarred with the otherwise ordinary depiction of life in modern New York City as people start flying left right and centre having just got off a city bus. It did seem a trifle over-done. It does look incredible though…

Elba is suitably mysterious as Roland and Jake is convincing as a troubled young man trying to understand his visions. McConaughey as Walter is more of a puzzle with no obvious goal other than the destruction of the tower and seemingly invincible as he pretty much instantly kills everyone he comes into contact with - A one-sided villain, to be sure. The performances by the actors playing Jake's mother and her boyfriend are also similarly one-sided. All of this means the film feels too simple and one-dimensional (ironic considering the depth of the epic book series).

The action eases off in the middle coming to a head towards the end with a suitable finale (though perhaps too simple a conclusion - without giving anything away). I have to admit I like Elba in pretty much anything he is in so that had me part way in the door already.

Popcorn fodder with a minimum amount of brain power required.

As far as how well it matches up to the book series: Well, it doesn't, really. It might have the same characters in it but as far as matching the plot of the books it comes no where close. But I have to say I found the books long and often quite tedious so a big-screen, 1 1/2 hour adaption is enough to see the characters on the big screen but it would have been nice to have had a much bigger scope to the film (like the books) but short of a television series this may be the best we ever see.

Rating: “Average, but who wants to be average?”

Review Date: 2017-09-26

Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel

Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)

Year: 2017

Length: 95 minutes

Genre: Fantasy