The Dark Tower Review: An Overbudget TV Movie Disguised as the Next Big Epic

Jordan Samuel Jordan Samuel
Expert Contributor
August 28th, 2017

Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast

Review of: The Dark Tower
Price:
Crumbling Tower

Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On August 28, 2017
Last modified:August 28, 2017

Summary:

Despite outstanding lead actors and decent action sequences, The Dark Tower crumbles in a rushed film with boring plot threads and shaky world building which doesn't give the audience enough reason to care about the journey.

Review of: The Dark Tower
Price:
Crumbling Tower

Reviewed by:
Rating:

2
On August 28, 2017
Last modified:August 28, 2017

Summary:

Despite outstanding lead actors and decent action sequences, The Dark Tower crumbles in a rushed film with boring plot threads and shaky world building which doesn't give the audience enough reason to care about the journey.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

The Dark Tower has been in development hell for the last 10 years, with J.J. Abrams initially attached, but then leaving the project for other works. 2017 brings us the official adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved material, in film form. But does it live up to the immense hype? Find out as Jordan Samuel brings us the official review.

Film Review: 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, finally makes it 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, a structure which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

Stephen King is one of the greatest writers in recent history, creating popular works in various genres including horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. Many of his works have been adapted into respected movies, with The Shawshank Redemption (1994) considered by many to be one of the best films ever made.

I have always admired King’s creativity. His projects always delve into emotional and terrifying ideas. It (1986) frightened audiences and made readers fear clowns for rest their adult lives. I grew up reading King’s reading his books and soon became hooked on the movie adaptations of The Shining (1980) and Carrie (1976).

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

The Dark Tower (2017) is a monotonous disappointment; simplifying the complex source material and alienating fans attached to the book’s strong, complex themes.

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The adaptation rushes from start to finish without giving audiences a reason to care about any of the characters. Despite great performances from the leads, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, The Dark Tower tosses away the epic source material for a common action romp.

Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel’s (King's Game) attempt at bringing the beloved tale to life, is a confusing bore with hardly any personality. The Dark Tower is so boring that by the conclusion, audiences likely won’t remember anything from the convoluted story.

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

Writer Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin) makes odd choices when it comes to world-building and character motivation. Nothing can save The Dark Tower from being a complete misfire in the story department. Focusing on an 11-year-old adventure seeker Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who uncovers clues about the Mid-World another dimension somehow linked to ours, he soon drifts away into a new world where he meets gunslinger Roland Deschain.

The pair the attempts to reach the nexus point where they can save all existence from destruction. But their plan is foiled when various monsters and the vile sorcerer Walter O’Dim threaten to tear them both apart.

A confusing duck hunt is the simple summary of these plot points, ultimately trading the intriguing world found in the books for what feels like a knockoff of Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001).

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

Idris Elba (Thor) plays the mysterious protagonist Roland Deschain, last of the long-living gunslingers, a family line whose duty was to keep that world from "moving on," a commonly used expression in their universe, for the collapse of not only civilization but reality itself.

Elba has starred in some groundbreaking films with his signature British charm connecting to audiences across the world. Sadly, his solid acting and immense physicality cannot save The Dark Tower, as Arcel forgets to use Elba’s charm and instead creates another generic, grim action hero.

Roland Deschain’s characters motivations are reduced to protecting, never giving audiences a chance to know the intriguing and dark character. I would have preferred more character development and defined motivations from the lead, but that never happens in the film’s short 95-minute run-time.

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) is one of the greatest actors working in Hollywood today. I was pleasantly surprised when McConaughey got cast in The Dark Tower.

He plays Walter o’Dim, an ageless sorcerer who seeks to reach the Dark Tower and rule infinite kingdoms. I wanted to love the character but ended up underwhelmed. The performance lacked an authentic fear factor, instead coming off as a generic Saturday morning cartoon.

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Performance wise the underwritten role won’t win any Oscars but should entertain fans of his previous works. Despite the campy dialogue, there’s something so odd about McConaughey playing a discount Power Rangers villain that it is almost worth the price of admission.

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

Jake Chambers played by newcomer Tom Taylor (Broken Hearts), is the young boy Roland Deschain calls upon in his journey to save all existence. I did enjoy the connection between Jack and Roland, the only saving grace when it comes to the characters in The Dark Tower. Similar to classic adventure movies- the pair grows a lasting bond after all the chaos which surrounds them.

Tom Taylor just lacks the imagination needed to expand our eyes into a new universe, tagging along with a talented actor like Elba leaves him outmatched, making audiences question the reasons for being cast in such a role. Perhaps another young person would have been a better choice.

Dark Tower

Credit: Sony Pictures

Despite outstanding lead actors and decent action sequences, The Dark Tower crumbles into a rushed film with boring plot threads and world building that doesn’t give the audience a reason to care about the journey. The TV movie production style and lack of personality limit the epic tale.

Sony Pictures feel desperate for another cinematic universe with The Dark Tower, but forget to utilize the rich source material or the A-list talent they have to work with. Perhaps in a few years, Netflix will commission their own version of the tale with more time given to character development and exploration of the novel’s themes.

The Dark Tower

  • 2

Crumbling Tower

Despite outstanding lead actors and decent action sequences, The Dark Tower crumbles in a rushed film with boring plot threads and shaky world building which doesn't give the audience enough reason to care about the journey.

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