THE DARK TOWER review by Ronnie Malik – a sadly rushed & confusing adaptation of King’s novels

THE DARK TOWER review by Ronnie Malik – a sadly rushed & confusing adaptation of King’s novels

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Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbey Lee, Nicholas Hamilton, Dennis Haysbert, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, José Zúñiga, Michael Barbieri

Rating: C

Author Stephen King is a phenomenon when it comes to storytelling. The creative writer, with his wild imagination, has written tales for just about every type of reader. He has done science fiction, fantasy, horror, and suspense to keep avid readers entertained. King put pen to paper when he dreamed up “The Dark Tower”, a series of 8 epic novels following the adventures of the main character, Ronal Deshcain who is a descendant of a long line of soldiers known as gunslingers. Ronald is a fantasy version of a Wild West hero traveling across worlds battling evil forces. The film adaptation THE DARK TOWER is an attempt to bring to life King’s creation on the big screen.

The story introduces Jake (Tom Taylor) an 11-year-old boy having nightmares of strange places and people. Drawing the images he sees in his dreams, Jake tries to piece together a vision of a man in black, a man holding a gun, and a strange mysterious place. The pre-teen is convinced that his visions are real but his mother Laurie (Katheryn Winnick ) is concerned that her son is having a mental break down. She hires a psychiatrist to treat her son hoping that Jake will realize that he is only having nightmares that are not going to come to fruition. Jake runs away when he believes his parents are going to send him to an institution and sets out to find the location of an old creepy decaying home he has seen in one of his dreams. He manages to locate the domicile where he finds a portal to a place called Mid-World.

Wondering around lost in Mid-World’s desert landscape, Jake meets Roland (Idris Elba), a gunslinger on a quest to find and kill “The Man in Black” (Matthew McConaughey), an evil sorcerer that uses the power hidden in the minds of children to destroy the dark tower that protects all worlds from darkness. The Man in Black wants to unleash an apocalypse upsetting the balance of the universe so that evil can rule. Reluctantly, Roland takes on Jake as a protégé and the two pair up to travel across parallel worlds to stop the wicked demon from taking over the cosmos.

THE DARK TOWER, at roughly 90 minutes long, feels very rushed and often confusing and pivotal moments in the film that should spark an emotional reaction fail to do so. Not enough time is spent on Jake’s relationship with his mother and when disaster strikes it is difficult to have any emotional attachment. The same is true of a brief scene with Roland and his father Steven (Dennis Haysbert). There is no time spent on the history of father and son fighting off evil forces. The one scene dedicated to both characters feels more like wasted time. There is a type of mantra that Roland learns from his father but no explanation of where the prayer came from and as a result it sounds pretty ridiculous when recited. To top it off there is even more silly dialogue in the film, making some of the more serious moments very laughable. Those who have not read the books are going to be completely confused since they won’t know where monsters and demons are coming from or how the “Dark Tower” came about. For the most part the writers for this movie did an awful job of bringing forward the feel of Stephen King’s sci-fi adventure.

With a wonderful, strong, and impressive screen presence, Iris Elba is perfectly cast as the gunslinger. The English actor looks really cool as the sharpshooter who never misses, and his action sequences are the best shots in the film. Although Matthew McConaughey gets some really campy lines, he still pulls of a stylized villain with finesse and looks like he is having a ton of fun playing Roland’s nemesis. Wide-eyed child actor Tom Taylor shows off some acting chops as the troubled kid, and his chemistry with Elba actually helps save an extremely weak film from completely falling apart.

A strong cast in THE DARK TOWER is just not enough to keep this production from being a disaster. There was no need to move the film along so quickly, and if more time had been spent on developing the characters and the storyline this could have been a really great way to kick off a complex and intense adventure. Many fans of King’s book series have been waiting for the film adaptation and will be very disappointed by the lack of attention given to all the wonderful details the famous writer shared with his readers. A television show staring Elba and Taylor is in the works and hopefully the small screen will do a better job of capturing the essence of one King’s best works.

THE DARK TOWER opens August 4, 2017

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