The Dark Tower

Walk this way: The Gunslinger is given a tour of the Big Apple by Jake
Verdict: 
3/10 - The Dark Tower attempts to bring Stephen King’s epic fantasy novels to life, but it dies a slow death onscreen despite the presence of stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.
Release Date: 
Friday, August 18, 2017
Written by: 

Idris Elba stars as the last Gunslinger Roland Deschain in a battle to save the world from evil sorcerer Walter, who is on a mission to destroy the Dark Tower and unleash hell.

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The Dark Tower is based on horror writer Stephen King's eight-novel magnum opus, and if you're not familiar with the books, don't worry, the film is unlikely to help in that respect.

This fantasy epic had a rocky road in reaching the big screen, directors JJ Abrams and Ron Howard were attached at points, with Howard staying on as a producer, and it's apparent from the final version, directed by Nikolaj Arcel, that too many cooks have spoiled the broth.

While the books focus on Elba's Gunslinger character Roland Deschain, the movie switches to character Jake, played by British actor Tom Chambers, as its main protagonist.

Jake is living in New York with his mother Laurie (Katheryn Winnick) and his unsympathetic stepfather.

Still in mourning for his father, the youngster is a troubled 11-year-old suffering from nightmares and visions in which he sees characters from other worlds, including a man in black who goes by the name of Walter (Matthew McConaughey), and subsequently draws them.

Elba is the last of the Gunslingers, an intergalactic variation on the classic western sheriff, sworn to protect the Earth from evil, but he is battling demons of his own and is hell-bent on killing Walter, a sorcerer, who wants to destroy a mighty tower that keeps evil at bay from the world, and for murdering his father Steven (Dennis Haysbert).

Walter uses the energy of children he is stealing from Earth to try and topple it, and begins to hunt Jake after discovering his "pure" psychic powers.

Through his drawings, Jake discovers a portal into the world of The Gunslinger - whose gun is made out of the same steel found in King Arthur's Excalibur - and they join forces to, albeit reluctantly on the Gunslinger's part, keep the mighty tower intact.

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The dystopian world created by the filmmakers has been done better by films such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, and if you’re not familiar with the books, don't worry, as that probably won't help.

There are gaping holes in the storyline and key points appear to have been glossed over, like the origins of the Skins, so it all appears a little one-dimensional at times.

Charismatic Elba brings the world-weary, battle-hardened persona of Roland to life, and the fish-out-of-water comedy scenes when he and Jake travel to modern day New York work well, giving some much-needed respite to this race through King's books.

Chambers acquits himself well in his many scenes with the movie veterans.

But for McConaughey, who has been riding a crest of the wave following his Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club, the ride stops here as he gives a hammy performance while wearing a very distracting Elvis-style wig. His one-liners are oddly timed and often fall flat, plus he's just not very scary.

The film appears to have been conceived as a franchise opener, and the open-ended finish suggests they may be hoping for a second crack of the whip but fans shouldn't hold their breath as the filmmakers have clearly struggled to adequately interpret it for the big screen.

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