Stephen King’s epic fantasy series has had a long troubled road to the screen. Going through creative teams such as Abrams/ Lindelof and Ron Howard/ Brian Grazer, eventually landing at the trustworthy hands of Danish director Nikolaj Arcel and Akiva Goldsman. Yes. That Akiva Goldsman. Writer of Batman and Robin.
Let that sink in.
They trusted this huge, potential franchise to the guy who wrote all those ice puns and gave Batman a credit card with Forever as the expiry date.
Tom Taylor plays Jake Chambers, a troubled young boy having visions of a Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) and his battle against the Man in Black (Matthew McConnaughey). The Man in Black wants to destroy The Dark Tower, which protects the multiverse. We never really find out his motivation other than he’s a bit evil.
Getting critically mauled on its release, I expected very little to enjoy, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable, sci-fi romp. Landing somewhere between Thor and Masters of the Universe, The Dark Tower is a kind of cheesey, entertaining fantasy/western/pulp/sci-fi film. It’s short, so wastes no time in getting the story going and rarely pauses for breath. It’s also a Stephen King greatest hits collection, with constant references to Shining and people who Shine as well as dropping hints to Cujo, IT and a few other King classics.
Of course there are some faults. The plot is fairly basic, and quite messy in places, missing out some key details, leaving the audience to try and figure out things for themselves. Oh and McConnaughey sounds overdubbed and slightly louder than everyone else, maybe an Adam Sandler/Little Nicky situation requiring a re-recording. He’s…. not up to his usual standard by the way, sort of flat. I wanted crazy scenery chewing and didn’t get it. Elba is fantastic on the other hand. Deserved much more of a meaty role than he was given. Roland’s scenes on our Keystone Earth were hilarious, Elba’s deadpan delivery was impeccable.
The Dark Tower should have been the next Harry Potter series. Huge scale epic fantasy movies, filled with real stakes and humour. What we get is a canonical sequel to the books that is sort of a remix of the entire series. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t read TDT series yet, but it’s on my to read list. If anything the film has made me want to read them more than ever.
For Fans of:
Masters of The Universe