The Dark Tower Review: Stephen King’s Long-Awaited Adaptation is a Waste of Time

Making a film based on any Stephen King novel is the trickiest thing to accomplish. It’s mainly because it’s his style of writing that can make it work for good (The Shawshank Redemption) or bad (Dreamcatcher). Now with Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation of King’s series The Dark Tower, you just never know.

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. With the fate of worlds at stake, two men collide in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in The Dark Tower (2017)

This film has been in production hell for many years as it’s been trying to get this to the screen for ten years. As for someone who’ve never read any of the books that this is based on, I had very little expectations because even though I appreciate some of King’s other work, the trailer didn’t sell me at all. Plus, it worried me since this is a shorter movie. However, this does star Elba and McConaughey, and I’m a fan of both of them. This film just made me curious about how this will turn out and that can be said about somebody translating any work of King. And no surprise, The Dark Tower failed to be interesting.  

What I did like about the film is that some of the performances were fine. Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers was very good as the main kid. You also got Elba, who was excellent as the Gunslinger. The both of them were the two best performances in here, and I did believe that fish-out-of-water chemistry between them. Because of the moments they have with each other, it really had some levity to certain scenes. McConaughey as the Man in Black was very mixed as he was underwhelming as the main antagonist. He’s just a good lookin’ dude wearing black doing dark magic or something.

The overall problem with the way The Dark Tower is handled is that this one movie is based on eight books and it’s condensed into a 95-minute story with elements of the novels. And because of this issue, it made the plot incoherent. This doesn’t give you a lot of knowledge about this mythology of the other world but instead dump exposition to our brains. An opening title cards explain some things, but it’s not much.  If this was longer and better written, the film would’ve gotten a better chance at explaining this universe to actually make it fascinating. It felt like a mash-up of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Last Action Hero. That just makes it feel rush and be over with very quickly. And it, of course, sets up a sequel. Doubt it. The overall feeling of the film itself wasn’t intriguing enough to justify caring about what’s happening on screen.

The action wasn’t too impressive to worth mentioning. Most of it wasn’t all that good because there wasn’t that much style to it with not the best CGI. Although, it’s awesome when Elba’s reloading his gun in the coolest way possible.

There were some references to Stephen King spread throughout that I caught like Jake has the “Shine” as in The Shining, and one of the portals is numbered 1408.

This is one of those times where this could’ve worked as a television miniseries just like some of King’s other work, and that what they’re planning on doing after this. But with all the problems beforehand in trying to finally make this film happen didn’t succeed. Since this was trying to start a franchise, it’s pretty much a done deal at this point. After it’s done, The Dark Tower will be forgettable. Not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it’s still disappointing and dull.

Also, it’s a clear bet that IT is going to be the better Stephen King movie this year by a landslide.

The Dark Tower is just too uninteresting and rushed for this thin adaption of the Stephen King series.

Grade: C-

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