The Dark Tower
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Abbey Lee, Dennis Haysbert, and Jackie Earle Haley
Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” was in the development trenches for some time, with filmmakers like J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard in the seat to make the book series come to life. All that time and attention unfortunately didn’t help the final version of this film, even with the capable cast lead by the stoic, heroic Idris Elba and the talent of a villainous Matthew McConaughey “The Dark Tower” is an incoherent mess.
Three of Stephen King’s stories will be seen in some way throughout the year. “The Mist” television show has already premiered and later next month the new version of “It” will float into theaters. With “The Dark Tower”, one of Mr. King’s more complex novels, the film adaptation focuses less on the story from the books and more on a continuation of sorts.
Jake (Tom Taylor) is having nightmares about otherworldly happenings that consist of a battle between good and evil and a plot to destroy a tower that keeps evil out of Earth, referred to by characters in the film as Keystone Earth. Protecting the realm, known as Mid-World, is a gunslinger named Roland (Idris Elba) who comes from a lineage of brave protectors who once fought the good fight long ago. Evil is winning and leading the charge to destroy the tower is the man in black, otherwise known as Walter (Matthew McConaughey). It is up to Jake and Roland to battle this evil force and protect the realm of Earth.
Idris Elba is the best thing about this film; the actor is a sullen loner who journeys across the different realms in search for vengeance. Mr. Elba has an appealing quality that shines through his otherwise downtrodden character’s personality. Matthew McConaughey mostly wanders into scenes, waves his hands, and whispers things like “stop breathing” to everyone that gets in his way. In small moments you can see what this film may have been trying to do, there is potential in the characterizations but the film never develops it.
The narrative is a complete clutter of ideas that don’t add up to anything more than cheap hero journey clichés. The movie attempts to build momentum towards some kind of conclusion, but the beginning and middle meander from the Mid-World to Keystone Earth, from foggy forests to the commotion of New York City with only a vague plot line of defeating an evil threat. We are introduced to characters that offer information about the journey only to have them disappear from the story. Jake’s family is given a small role to promote his future heroism, but the relationship with them is never really established with any kind of meaning. From scene to scene the movie progressively makes less sense.
For fans of Stephen King’s stories it may be a fun distraction to look for all the telling nods to the author’s works, the world here is trying to pay some kind of homage to the stories crafted by the author. Aside from a few qualities found in the lead performance, there isn’t much to really appreciate about this film. That’s a shame because “The Dark Tower” deserved better.
1.00 out of 5.00