As a whole, don’t count on The Gunslinger, the Man in Black, or Jake to entertain you this long weekend.
As a lifelong nerd, I was excited for The Dark Tower. When the first trailer came out, I was curious, but not quite sucked in. By the time I’d watched the final trailer before my advance screening, I was doubtful.
I’m sorry to say those doubts have been confirmed.
The Dark Tower is based on a series of Stephen King novels that he started writing in the early 80’s. He wrote the most recent book in 2012. The books follow The Gunslinger and The Man in Black, who are constantly at odds with one another.
Cue the 2017 film, which is a watered down version of various books in the series, albeit with some of the original elements.
Jake Chambers is an 11-year-old who suffers from nightmares and puts them to paper in drawings. He believes what he’s drawing is urging him to find out more about a place called “Mid-World,” where he ends up going. He eventually begins meeting the people he’s drawn, including The Gunslinger Ronald Deschain (Idris Elba) and The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) the latter of which turns out to be a powerful sorcerer. Jake soon finds out he’s more involved than he’d like to think.
Look, I wanted to like this movie so badly. I wanted to enjoy it, but it was tough to when there bits and pieces of different story lines, little action, and ridiculously cheesy lines. I get that sometimes King comes across like that in his books, and that other movies have taken that direction when creating adaptations. For me, there was something different about The Dark Tower series, however, that made it more menacing, more terrifying (let’s exclude It, here) than some of the other King film adaptations that have come out.
I think the younger lot will like the sorcery aspects, and when you isolate Idris Elba’s performance, he’s actually not bad. What turned me off was the fragmented plot and Matthew McConaughey’s version of The Man in Black: an off-shift Vegas blackjack dealer who wants you to spend your chips slowly, so he can mock you as you lose. (I will give credit where credit is due; there was a funny line in the film delivered by McConnaughey involving chicken, but that’s as close to good as we’re going to get.)
I actually had more fun looking for nods to other works by King. I won’t give them all away, but there were some from It and 1408. Die-hard fans will like some of the more in-depth references to his other books, so you can at least look for those while you’re watching the film.
Not the worst movie of the year, but just about a waste of time. Two-and-a-half rickety bullets out of five. Fans will go see it this weekend, and people who are on the fence really shouldn’t go, but if the scales tip towards the ‘yay’ side, then definitely watch it on a cheapie Tuesday.