The Big Picture

The Dark Tower

Only 14 years old, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is no typical New York boy. Gifted with psychic powers (called “the shine”, in a clear reference to The Shining) no one – including himself – understands, Jake draws images of what he sees in his many terrifying dreams. Until one day (3 marvelous words we all awaits in any story), the young man discovers the existence of another world called Mid-World – the one, it turns out, that has been haunting him all along.

Transported there via a magical portal, Jake meets Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), a Gunslinger devoted to protect both dimensions from the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), a sorcerer whose only desire is to destroy the Dark Tower, a monolith standing at the center of the universe protecting humankind from evil. Then starts for Jake and Roland a race to stop him and save their worlds (in 95 minutes, that is).

Columbia Pictures

Highly anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s massive series of books of the same name, The Dark Tower took nearly 10 years to develop (the project has been ongoing since 2007 with J.J. Abrams originally attached to produce and direct). Enough time, one might think, to loyally and resourcefully convert King’s engrossing novels for the big screen – and the greatest pleasure of eager fans. Sadly, Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation mostly reveals a series of missed opportunities…

Major misfire

“So much is wrong about The Dark Tower,” a critic for whom the film is a “giant dud,” writesEvery so often in the movie, which “certainly had potential,” “you catch a glimpse of what might have been: the might-have-been narrative ambition, the might-have-been pop mythology, the might-have-been genre assemblage.” “Wholly inoffensive,” and “unmemorable,” The Dark Tower should “add up to more.” Hence the fans don’t get “the good stuff they’ve been waiting for” – “a real shame.”

An adaptation not worthy of King’s original work

“Hollywood has been trying to wrestle Stephen King’s fantasy book series into film form for years now, and this is the inglorious end (for now) of that struggle.” In fact, King’s “strong source of work is mostly put to waste.” “The best-selling author’s magnum opus deserves an open-ended miniseries treatment, aking to what HBO has done with Games of Thrones or Peter Jackson’s treatment of the magnificent cinematic trilogy Lord of the Rings.” “Based – loosely seems altogether too generous a word -“ on the Master of Horror’s books, Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation is “an unappealing hash of movemaking cliché” that “also does the unfortunate work of making some of the details of King’s world seem pretty silly.”

Columbia Pictures

A good cast who deserved better

Another mistake Arcel makes is to waste “the two protean stars at his disposal.” Probably the only thing holding the film together, Idris Elba’s and Matthew McConaughey’s performances stand out in the midst of “clotted action scenes, gun fetishism, bad writing and stop-and-go rhythms that suggest a longer version may once have existed.” Elba, “elegant and understated,” “makes for a capable, watchable hero as the Gunslinger,” able to make “even the goofiest lines of dialogue believable.” Along with McConaughey, who gets to play “a snakelike hipster dude”, and the young Tom Taylor, who “taps into raw emotions naturally and expressively,” the actor, with his “magnetism and man-of-stone solidity,” anchors the movie’s mess, but, unfortunately, “can’t redeem it.”

Best quotes from the reviews:

“The Good, the Bad and the Stupid.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“If you close your eyes, you can almost see that more ideal movie, its fuller form, robust, gripping, and, yes, shining in your mind.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Readers who love the series deserve a movie version made with more imagination, and less rote efficiency, than this one.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Time

“A 95-minute movie that plays like a mash-up of King’s mythic themes with no connective tissue.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone