The Dark Tower, D
Rated PG-13, 95 minutes
The incoherent mess that is "The Dark Tower" is one of this summer's biggest movie disappointments, and it will most disappoint fans of the Stephen King novel series its based upon. The filmmakers don't seem to know what to do with King's dense story, filled with mythology and colorful characters, and watered them down they barely resemble a shell of the books, but if even wasn't based on a well-known novel series, it would still not be a great movie.
Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is an 11-year-old adventure seeker who discovers clues about another dimension called Mid-World. Upon following the mystery, he is spirited away to Mid-World where he encounters a Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who is on a quest to reach the "Dark Tower" that resides in End-World and reach the nexus point between time and space that he hopes will save all existence from extinction. But with various monsters and a vicious sorcerer named Walter o'Dim, the Man in Black (Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey, prancing around), hot on their trail, the unlikely duo find that their quest may be difficult to complete.
Fans or not of the novel series, most walking out of "The Dark Tower" will be asking, "what was that?" After years of development, it comes crashing down with a story so baffling and so different than King's story, for a moment I forgot that I myself had recently read a couple of the "The Dark Tower" books. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel ("A Royal Affair") and co-written by Arcel with Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman ("A Beautiful Mind"), Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen, it has a few entertaining moments, but is beset with a myriad of problems.
First, it can't get a grasp of the story, which is obvious in the first act when it decides to focus on the kid instead of the gunslinger, played with magnetism by Elba in a bit of inspired casting, which comes to the second point. They make the gunslinger, the most interesting (and lead) character in the novels, a supporting character here, and his mission to get to the tower in the first place is so watered down you forget that is the main point here. Instead, we're subject to countless creatures and McConaughey's sorcerer wreaking havoc, which only shows off the dull storytelling.
Things don't get interesting until the end, and by then it's a standard, cliched shoot-em-up that ends in an awful mixture of two clear sources for KIng's stories: the spaghetti western classic "The Good, Bad and the Ugly" and Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" series. The film's real standout is Elba, whose does his best in spite of the misguided direction and writing and who's far more interesting than McConaughey's hammy Man in Black, except that my eyes kept wandering to McConaughey's perfectly styled hair (or hair piece), something that clearly hasn't been altered by the changes to the space-time continuum at stake here.
"The Dark Tower" is unfortunate and considerably disappointing misfire given its source material and author, who can't be pleased with the results. Fan or not, you're better off staying away from this and reading one of the novels, or any book for that matter, and hope that the upcoming movie adaptation of King's horror novel "It" is much better than this travesty.