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Review: The Dark Tower 

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THE DARK TOWER
*1/2

The long-in-the-making movie The Dark Tower runs 95 minutes yet is based on the Stephen King book series that ran over the course of eight novels. Such a condensation may not be quite as vexing as attempting to place all of Shakespeare’s texts onto a single Post-it note, but it nevertheless ranks as an exercise in futility.

Despite the material’s links to other King staples, the movie has less in common with the prolific author’s output and more in common with such Young Adult adaptations as the Divergent and Percy Jackson series. Certainly, there are nods here and there to the King oeuvre (It, 1408, The Shining), but stripped of dramatic heft, the film mainly plays like the YA-sanctioned adventures of a young boy who gets to hang out with a gunslinger and fight a wicked sorcerer.

The boy is Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who suffers from recurring dreams involving an imposing tower. The gunslinger is Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last in a long line of peacekeepers sworn to protect the title edifice. And the sorcerer is the Man in Black – no, not Johnny Cash, but a vile being seeking to destroy the Tower and thereby unleash all manner of otherworldly evildoers.

The Man in Black is played by Matthew McConaughey, who seems to have based his performance on the most obnoxious car salesman he’s ever met. McConaughey’s Man in Black isn’t frightening in the least, but he could probably get you a sweet deal on a Lincoln Continental.

The casting of Elba makes more sense than that of his surfer dude co-star, but while he brings the proper degree of gravitas to his role, the thinness of the screenplay means that there’s little depth to his characterization. The entire film suffers from a similar measure of surface sheen.

Potentially interesting players come and go, other worlds and dimensions are visited, and characters engage in weighty proclamations like “He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father,” “He has the shine!” and “The gun is good; the penis is evil” (wait, that one’s from Zardoz; never mind).

But by barreling through the story at Mach speed, nothing is allowed to marinate and deepen. What’s left, then, is a shallow fantasy in which most of the unimaginative action sequences consist of little more than Roland shooting his pistols at various villains. It may be High Noon in the land of The Dark Tower, but it’s a low ebb for viewers expecting anything of substance.

Film Details The Dark Tower

There are other worlds than these. Stephen King's The Dark Tower, the ambitious and expansive story from one of the world's most celebrated authors, makes its launch to the big screen. The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O'Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

Action/Adventure and SciFi/Fantasy

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Credits

The Dark Tower

Rated PG-13

94 min.

2017

Director:

  • Nikolaj Arcel

Cast:

  • Idris Elba
  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Tom Taylor
  • Claudia Kim
  • Fran Kranz
  • Abbey Lee
  • Jackie Earle Haley
  • Katheryn Winnick

Writers:

  • Stephen King
  • Nikolaj Arcel
  • Anders Thomas Jensen
  • Akiva Goldsman
  • Jeff Pinkner

Producers:

  • Akiva Goldsman
  • Ron Howard
  • Brian Grazer
  • Erica Huggins
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