The Dark Tower (2017)

dark tower poster 2017 movie
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good cast, King-verse

Garbled story that appeals to no one

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Dark Tower

Studio:   Imagine Entertainment

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):   July 31, 2017 (Premiere)/August 4, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

dark tower jake chambers Tom Taylor roland deschain idris elba

Way to Win Friends and Influence People, Roland

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) hasn’t been sleeping well.  He sees visions of the end of the world, the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), and a mysterious Gunslinger named Roland Deschain (Idris Elba).  Jake and the people around him think Jake is crazy, but Jake has the “shine” and is actually seeing things that no one else can.  Jake is at the forefront of a war and Walter Paddick wants to bring down the tower.  Roland is hunting Paddick.  Walter and Roland need Jake, and Jake needs to help Roland save the worlds.

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, The Dark Tower is a sci-fi horror western.  The film loosely adapts Stephen King’s multi-volume Dark Tower series that ran from 1982 to 2004.  The film was released to negative reviews and fared poorly at the box office.

dark tower monster jake chambers

Grrrr…I’m a computer generated monster!

The Dark Tower has been in development hell for years and years.  With multiple projects from J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard falling through, the movie finally was fast-tracked with plans for a follow-up series and sequels.  The Dark Tower is Stephen King’s opus.  He’s weaved multiple stories and novels within The Dark Tower novels from ’Salem’s Lot to less popular novels like Insomnia.  It was going to be really, really hard to adapt (with even King becoming a character in a volume).  Despite this, the series was really bloated at points and could be worked down…that gave me hope.  Unfortunately, the movie fails on the front.

dark tower guns gunslinger idris elba jake chambers tom taylor

Shoot with your fart…I mean heart

The movie seems target-less (which is ironic since it is about a master gunner).  It seems like a weird attempt to appease Harry Potter fans while not offending Stephen King fans (ironically Harry Potter was referenced in later volumes too).  It largely eliminates the “western” aspect of the story which could have been fun as a post-modern cross-genre series and mostly becomes a sci-fi fantasy that is really flat.  The story is confusing to those with no background to the story, but also off-putting to those as fans of the books.  It’s a weird mess what has little energy.

The cast however is good.  Idris Elba is solid as Roland Deschain, but he doesn’t get to do much acting in the film which largely flattens his character to a morose guy who’s a cliché to brooding heroes.  Matthew McConaughey is a great Man in Black but I’d rather see his version of Randall Flagg from The Stand (another version of the character).  Tom Taylor gives some depth to Jake Chambers who becomes the star of the movie, but the movie really needed to be more about Roland.

dark tower man in black walter matthew mcconaughey jake chambers tom taylor

Wait…are you doing one of those car commercials now…or are you in the movie?

The visuals of the movie are rather strong, but they could have been better.  There are a lot of visual references to other Stephen King novels like It, The Shining (which also is referenced through Jake’s “shine”), Cujo, Misery, Mr. Mercedes, Christine, 1408, and even Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.  Those references are fun (though sometimes feeling too obvious and forced), but a lot of the rest of the movie feels like generic sci-fi visuals…dumbed down for kids.

I don’t know what is next for The Dark Tower.  Plans for the mini-series adapting the prequel story The Dark Tower IV:  Wizard and Glass might continue or they might not…unfortunately, I don’t know if I care.  The movie seeks to establish a “King-Verse” which could mean remakes and more tie-ins in the future, but the movie’s lackluster reception might have damned that…maybe we’ll have to wait a few years to relaunch The Dark Tower or maybe the Tower has fallen before it was ever reached.

Related Links:

The Dark Tower I:  The Gunslinger

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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