Review: The Dark Tower

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Title: The Dark Tower
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Nicolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris ElbaMatthew McConaugheyTom Taylor
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins

What It Is: Based on the epic eight-part Stephen King book series, The Dark Tower film sees a young boy named Jake (Taylor) who has visions and dreams of things that do not exist in our world. At the center of these dreams is a Dark Tower, which holds the universe together, and holds at bay all the evils from outside this world. And then there is a sinister sorcerer known only as “The Man in Black” (McConaughey) who intends to bring down the tower and unleash hell upon the universe. Standing in his way is the last of a dying breed: Roland (Elba) a gunslinger descended from Arthur Eld, tasked with trying to save his world and our own.

What We Think: The Dark Tower suffers from a plethora of problems, one being that it is over-directed, and not in a good way. I had a very fun time with the film, but it suffers from the lack of depth present in the source material. McConaughey and Elba come off as a little too hammy; the fault for this, however, lies in the writing, far more so than in their performances. The film is visually stunning to a point. Some of the CGI is a bit suspect, but for the most part it looks pretty good. I have a huge problem with the choices made by cinematographer Rasmus Videbæk, namely why in the hell is everything SO DAMN DARK! It’s hard to catch any visual nuance with everything being so black and brown.

Our Grade: C-

 The Dark Tower takes the spectacular source material and squanders it, resulting in a mediocre film. I recommend it for its surface appeal and fun, but as a recommendation it is of the lowest tier. More depth and a longer runtime dedicated to character development and world-building would have helped this film considerably, especially in attempting to set up a multi-film arc. It all felt rushed, especially Akiva Goldsman’s script. Which, ultimately, is too bad, because King’s stuff usually only goes one of two ways: badly, severely so; or fantastic. There is another King adaptation only a month away– IT–an I’m looking forward to that one.

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