Ron Howard was supposed to direct The Dark Tower and had even started filming but then he was awarded the chance to direct the first film of the Han Solo franchise of Star Wars. Too bad for The Dark Tower. It is based on the Stephen King series of books about The Gunslinger or Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) and his battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), the Man in Black. It is about good versus evil and the battle of two towers. If the good tower falls, evil prevails over the mystical world and our world. Oh, and in our world, a young boy, Jake (Tom Taylor), who is still mourning the death of his father is having dreams about the Gunslinger and the Man in Black. Or is he crazy with grief? His mother is not sure and his step-father is all too eager to send Jake off with some weirdos that they have never laid eyes on. I guess this is the basic gist of this nonsense.
Stephen King is a fine writer(I have read some of his books)and although I have not read any of the The Dark Tower series, I cannot imagine King could have seen his material sucked dry of any life the way this abomination has. This film is a complete disaster. I had heard it was awful, but once again, as I have done with so many films of the past, I said to myself, “There is no way this could be THAT bad.” And again, I am wrong. My understanding is that they have crammed bits and pieces from all EIGHT books into an eighty-seven-minute film. That’s right. At eighty-seven minutes the credits start to roll and no, there are no post-credit sequences. You should thank your lucky stars for that, too. The action sequences which are about the only thing people can hold onto for any stimulation are about as dull as watching grass grow.
Shall I continue? The script penned by Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen and Nikolaj Arcel who also doubles as the director, is an absurd mix of mysticism, spirituality and human drama none of which is the least bit interesting. These are all capable writers and collectively they have come up with nothing that makes this story the least bit interesting. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are terrific actors but they are given very little to do except wander aimlessly through cheesy sets and react to horrendous effects. The story is listless and without a single bit of soul. Like a vampire, they have sucked every last ounce of lifeblood from this material. Everyone in this film seems to want to be somewhere else; anywhere else but in this film and I cannot blame them. The only good elements of this film are Tom Taylor as Jake and Tom Holkenborg’s (otherwise known as Junkie XL) score.
British actor Tom Taylor is fine as Jake and there were scenes in which I genuinely felt sorry for his character. But every time this film makes a smidgeon of headway in the positive sense, we have to sit through insufferable dialogue about good versus the evil and the ridiculous mantra the Gunslingers recite as they discharge their weapons. There is scene after scene in which Jake is told to “stay put” but of course he doesn’t listen which sets up a tired and routine action sequence in which the Gunslinger rescues Jake. This happens numerous times and it gets old. There is virtually no character development on any of these characters with the exception of Jake. NONE. Like a souffle, everyone is just thrown into the mix amounting to very little substance.
Director Nikolaj Arcel was handed the reigns to The Dark Tower when Ron Howard departed and this, his fifth directorial feature, still looks like his first. His direction is sloppy and disjointed. He never establishes much of a train of thought on where to go with this film. His biggest claim to fame was the rather excellent script he adapted for the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. For The Dark Tower, it took four writers and they still couldn’t get it right. How could this have gone so wrong? How could they line up and squander such talents like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey for such a dreadful film? At the end of the day, there is nothing redeemable about this monstrosity. The only good news I can bring to the fans is that a television series is in development based on the fourth volume of the Dark Tower series and Tom Taylor will reprise his role on that show. How is this good news, you ask? They could not do any worse than this.
The Dark Tower – * out of 5
The Dark Tower – Rated PG-13 for violence, some gore and language
The Dark Tower – Run Time is listed at 95 minutes, but I promise you the credits start at about 87 minutes.
If you are insistent on seeing this thing still, it is available on DVD, On Demand and subscription services.