As far as Stephen King based films go, there have certainly been hits and misses that need no explanation. And since connecting other film worlds is now the in-thing in Hollywood, why not take the Stephen King story that connects most of the Stephen king stories? Since 2007 The Dark Tower has had a rough development history from being passed down from director to director to the film potentially being a TV show instead. By the end of the Dark Tower I wish they had stuck with the TV Series because this film attempts to take 8 books and compress them into the space of an hour and a half. I now wonder if the filmmakers just ignored what happened with The Hobbit trilogy.
Don’t get me wrong, I still found subtle tasters of enjoyment from this film such as the action scenes where the gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) is firing his pistols left, right and centre, almost taking inspiration from Equilibrium’s gunfights mixed with martial arts scenes, call it gun fu if you will. Also in all honest, this is a great premise that opens the door to many interpretations of characters and significant story details, it’s a shame that the film completely rejects the idea of shedding light on these potentials. The Stephen King references were good to see and reminded me on the importance of these other stories have in the novels, you’ll be able to spot a picture of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining and the fact that our main character Jake (Tom Taylor) literally has the same powers as Danny. Possibly the most impressive element of The Dark Tower is how unnoticeable the special effects are as they do blend in well with their surroundings.
As we should come to expect by now, just because a big author wrote the book doesn’t mean that his work can transfer over to film. The Dark Tower had the potential to be very expansive both in the story and the world it takes place in. Instead, director Nikolaj Arcel seems to have decided to ignore everything that made The Dark Tower expansive and focused all its attention on one storyline whilst chucking in a few narrative plot points from other stories. If you’ll going to take this route you better had make sure that these storylines are constructed in a cohesive way, if we had quality testers for films, I’m certain that they would say the story is broken. But then this film was written partially by Akiva Goldsman who hasn’t had the greatest track record when it comes to interesting screenplays.
Speaking of which, the actual narrative of the film seems to copy and paste for my liking. It seemed that almost the entire story was Jake and Roland searching for a location and getting there and a couple of fish out of water scenarios. Only when you really start to boil the narrative, the crack in it start to appear. And while the fish out of water scenarios provided some genuinely funny moments, the repetitive point A to point B narrative makes the film feel rushed, even the ending of The Dark Tower is rushed and is pandering for a sequel to be made.
The performances by the actors aren’t very noteworthy, Idris Elba give something that is decent but I felt that he didn’t have the same level of intimidation that he can bring to a role. Matthew McConaughey gives us a seemingly casual performance as the man in black Walter. I get the sense that Walter is probably a much more complex villain in the books but in the film, he’s just another bad guy with an end of the world agenda we seem too many times to even count. Tom Taylor is again decent for a first-time performance in a major film, this very new child actor has a lot of potential range but for some reason couldn’t utilise these early skills as much as he could have done.
I am slightly disappointed with The Dark Tower, but not as much as to completely disregard this film by saying it’s disgusting. Audiences are probably going to have a good time for having a good time’s sake, going into this film with big expectations will leave audiences feeling as if they have wasted their money, but by taking a relaxed approach, saying the film was ok and moving on with their lives is a much better look on this film. However, I have always campaigned for new ways of presenting narratives to an audience and The Dark Tower is just another one of those films that has been processed and processed again to create something that we’ve seen time and time again.
I’m certain that good things can come out for Tom Taylor in the future and I genuinely feel sorry for this film very bumpy road to completion, but I will end by saying that The Dark Tower wasn’t good, but from the perspective of a product of entertainment, it’s not bad either.