Hot Take: Sometimes Stephen King novels don’t translate to the big screen. It’s no surprise making something based on 8 King novels doesn’t make the transition.
When you hear names like Stephen King, Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba attached to a project, there’s reason for excitement. However, when it comes to The Dark Tower, a Sci-Fi fantasy western based on King’s series of novels of the same name, the result falls well short of anything worth celebrating. Somehow the 8 novels produce a movie just 95 minutes long that is about as forgettable as any movie you’ll see in 2017. In about 3 years, this one will be in the “Under $5” bin at Walmart and there’s a good chance you won’t remember you saw it the first time.
In The Dark Tower, Jake (Tom Taylor) is troubled by visions of a Man in Black (McConaughey) who is kidnapping children and using their brain power to destroy a tower that will bring darkness and death to the world. His mother is concerned he’s mentally unstable because of the death of his father and his stepfather wants him out of the picture. The night before he is set to be sent off to a psychiatric facility, Jake sees visions of the Gunslinger (Idris Elba) and he decides he needs to find him and solicit his help to fight the Man in Black. Once Jake finds a portal to get to the Gunslinger’s world, he finds out that the Gunslinger doesn’t want to stop the Man in Black, he wants to kill him as revenge for the death of his father (Dennis Haysbert). Jake must now find a way to both find the Man in Black and convince the Gunslinger that there’s more at stake here than revenge.
It sounds like more fun than it is. Part of the problem is the short run time of 95 minutes. It makes it feel like a Swanson TV dinner which always looks delicious on the box but when you open it, the vegetables have no taste and the protein is a rubbery chore to chew through. The Dark Tower is basically the Swanson TV dinner version of a Stephen King series of novels that is surely better than the resulting product.
For a project that has had an impressive list of names attached (J.J. Abrams, Ron Howard, Russell Crowe, Aaron Paul, Liam Neeson) and visions of both a film and television franchise, The Dark Tower comes up woefully short of being worthy of the names or the discussion of spawning franchises and doesn’t even make it back to mediocrity. Even the most die hard King fans should distance themselves from this disappointing film. It’s a shame. The source material is there. The actors were game. The result, though, was a toss-away summer Sci-Fi fantasy flick that you will likely forget within 24 hours of leaving the theater.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Cool Elba
Even though the film is not worthy, Idris Elba delivers another cool and calm performance that elevates the finished product. It’s not enough to make it good but Elba isn’t the reason it isn’t good.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Who Thought a Film Based on 8 Novels Was a Good Idea?
Abrams and Howard were smart to pull out of this project before Nikolaj Arcel took on what he calls a sequel to the events of the series by King.
As the film’s villain, the Man in Black, McConaughey has the power to make people do things like stop breathing with just his words. I sat there hoping he’d break the 4th wall and tell me to leave the theater. It didn’t happen.