The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower: A Missed Opportunity
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, The Dark Tower is a missed opportunity. The film never explores the true potential of Stephen King’s novel series by the same name. It is only natural that one would compare it to the hit Lord of The Rings franchise but it does not really come anywhere close. Sadly, it ends up being a forgettable film whose lead actor is the only silver-lining in this otherwise dull experience.
Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is a troubled teenager. He holds the power to secretly peek into other worlds through his recurring visions. In one such vision Jake is introduced to The Dark Tower, a channel that controls the orderly function of multiple dimensions of reality. In that very same vision, he witnesses Walter Padick (Matthew McConaughey) alias The Man in Black trying to destroy the tower. So, Jake ultimately discovers a way to travel between worlds to ensure the safety of the tower. Just as he lands in Mid-World, he seeks assistance from the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who holds the potential to save the tower.
The film tries to please fans of the novel series as well as those who have not read the book but are interested in the film. Just like most literature-based films, it should have had a specific target audience in mind. Fans of Stephen King would expect a certain loyalty towards the novel even if it meant doing away with a few insignificant parts. But this film is disappointing because it significantly removes a lot many details. The patchwork done by the filmmakers gets increasingly apparent as the film progresses. It is inconsistent and done in a hurried manner.
Dark Tower’s Mid-World has a western backdrop but the film just uses clichés leaving you infuriated at the carelessness of the premise construction. The character of the lead actors is not well-etched. Jake’s character arc in the film is confusing. In many instances, his actions seem contradictory and uncertain. Walter Padick’s character sketch is considerably better than the other two leads. But what should’ve been a mystery is reduced to a grim face-off.
Roland’s portrayal proves to be the only silver-lining in this film. Idris Elba’s performance is top-notch. His conviction can’t save the film but it does come very close to a chance at redemption. Matthew McConaughey makes for a terrible villain. Even though his character arc is devised better, his body language and the way he carries himself lacks the essence of an antagonist. It comes across as rather odd considering the calibre of McConaughey as an actor has been amply displayed onscreen. Tom Taylor holds back in a lot of scenes. His emotions are always accompanied by a wave of uncertainty.
As you progress towards the climax it is easy to make out that editors Alan Edward Bell and Dan Zimmerman have pieced together many unrelated shots that amount to shoddy patchwork. These inconsistencies in narrative rhythm should not be present in a film of such high production value.
The art direction in the film is quite unimaginative too. Jake’s world, The Key Stone Earth is vague and The Mid World just has unexplainable geological formations. Even the Dark Tower isn’t as intimidating or powerful as it should be.
On the whole, The Dark Tower tries to take up the herculean task of packing in eight novel’s worth of content in one film. Unfortunately, it fails miserably at this task.