The Dark Tower is now in theaters, so I headed out to my local theater last night to check it out, and while I didn’t find it to be among this summer’s best, I was somewhat entertained. Now I think most of my appreciation of the film came from the fact that I had no prior experience or knowledge of it going in, so I didn’t really have an opportunity to be let down. I never read the books, so I had nothing to compare the film to, therefore I found it mildly entertaining and not a complete pile of poo.
You can check out my full review of The Dark Tower movie below.
Hey now, fans of books being turned into movies, Matt Heywood here with EntertainmentBuddha.com to review The Dark Tower, which according to the Internet is loosely based on the Steven King novels of the same name.
There will be minimal to no spoilers present outside of basic plot setup.
I should also note that I knew nothing about this film or the books going into my screening, which probably plays into my less than scathing review, which doesn’t seem to be the norm for most critics who have seen it.
The Dark Tower is based on King’s novels and features a universe that is protected from pure evil by a lone dark tower standing at the center of the universe. Within the borders of this tower’s reach lay different worlds, and in the film we mostly visit Mid-World and our own version of Earth, which is called Keystone Earth.
For centuries a battle has been waged over the tower between the Gunsligners, who are essentially King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, and the Man in Black, who most would call the devil. The man in black, who also goes by the assuming name of Walter, is hellbent on tearing the tower down so he can bring death and destruction to every world it protects, so the Gunslingers are charged with foiling his attempts.
Throughout the years the Gunslinger forces got decimated by the Man in Black, who has a magical tongue and can kill with just words. The only one left by the time we tap into the narrative in this film is Roland, who is masterfully and quite stoically played by Idris Elba, who happens to be the highlight of this ok but not great sci-fi-fantasy flick.
The Dark Tower starts off by showing how the Man in Black plans to take down the tower, which involves kidnapping kids from other worlds who have shine, or psychic powers, and strapping them into a weapon that shoots shine beams at the tower that affect it and the worlds protected by it greatly.
While this is going on we meet Jake Chambers, who is a teen living on Keystone Earth who has dreams about events that have taken and place, and are currently taking place on Mid-World. Through these dreams he learns of the Man in Black and his plans, and he also learns about the Gunslinger Roland.
Naturally, Jake becomes a target of the Man in Black and his face changing forces, so he gets thrust into the ordeal and quickly finds himself in Mid-World looking for the Gunslinger to save the day.
Now in terms of the film’s qualities I can say there are a few, but it’s not what I would call a standout summer release. Although, I do have to say that I was entertained, so for me this film isn’t a total disaster or bore.
I feel that people like me who have had no prior introduction to The Dark Tower through the books will probably enjoy it more than those who have a deep knowledge of King’s work. It just seems a bit rushed, and I have to imagine that loads of lore are glossed over in favor of a snappier pace and shorter overall runtime.
From what I saw on Mid-World alone I could argue that there could have been another 30-minutes of world building added to the script, which would have explained more about the history of this world and the conflict between the Man in Black and the Gunslingers.
Jake, who is played quite well by Tom Taylor, does offer up an interesting narrative of his own, but it’s the sci-fi and fantasy laden world of Mid-World that featured the most interesting characters and action, so I would have preferred to learn more about the history of the conflict rather than the tail end of it.
I just feel as if the main characters got shortchanged in terms of development, and if it weren’t for the expert skills of Elba and McConaughey, neither of them would have come off as anything more than generic foils of each other. The same can be said for the overall world of The Dark Tower. It just seems as if the movie version only scratches the surface in regards to the rich lore that I’m assuming King built into the book versions. Which is a shame because from what is shown I think I could really get into the novels, so if anything else The Dark Tower movie may be a great way to sell books thanks to its less-than-perfect execution.
I really do believe that The Dark Tower isn’t as horrendous as most professional critics are making it out to be. I think most of its scathing reviews and low scores are probably coming from critics who are super fans of the books, and since the movie doesn’t do the books a ton of justice, they skewered it. I’m not saying that it’s a must-see film in theaters either, but by the time it ends I did find myself feeling entertained, and I even experienced a few emotional connections to the main characters during the rather thrilling and action intense climax.
The Dark Tower is a middle of the road type of movie, so it earns a 6.9 out of 10 review score from Team EB. You don’t have to see it in theaters, but if you have no prior knowledge about what the books are all about, I do think it serves as a decent sci-fi-fantasy action film worth watching at some point in your life.
Thanks for watching, I’m Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we strive to make you a better geek, one post at a time.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a Dolby Cinema screening for the purposes of this review.