Another film with great potential adapted from Stephen King material and another misfire as The Dark Tower struggles to form an interesting and cohesive story around engaging characters and a world rich with history. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black and Idris Elba as the ruthless Gunslinger, two beings at war with each other…… none of which we get to see here. The Dark Tower starts off slow, with its abrupt and brief introductions to the main players and it never really ramps up to anything exciting. At only 1 hour 30 minutes this movie moves through events like it’s nothing in order to get from A to B as quickly as possible. This could be good but the problem is, not a whole lot is happening in most scenes, there is a lot of nothing, just dreading future events, and anytime something potentially intriguing happens it is completely unexplained and out of left field. Dialogue scenes can be interesting, but when you care about no-one aside from the 1-2 of the main characters so you can’t be invested in those scenes.
I will begin with what is actually by far the best element of the film, and really the only definitively good element. Idris Elba as the Gunslinger seems to be ripped out of a good, interesting, action packed film and thrown in amongst this pile of junk. Out of everyone in the film he is the character you connect with the most, he exhibits a tonne of emotion, you understand his journey, and he pulls off the grittiness you expect to see in this apocalyptic world. And unlike the rest of the film, he builds in intensity as time progresses, and the more time passes the more you love his character. Despite being the shining light here it is nowhere near enough to hold up this film that handles almost everything else poorly. McConaughey as The Man in Black could have been a campy, over-exaggerated disaster, but it wasn’t, for the most part. There are some campy McConaughey moments but his character had an interesting enough story closely connected to the Gunslinger to where i could actually give a shit.
The main character Jake, played by Tom Taylor was ok at best, he wasn’t a character i could connect with, didn’t have much of a unique personality and was an overall pretty dull lead. He is completely outshone by Elba and McConaughey and i’d have preferred it if he wasn’t in the film at all. Then you get to the other secondary performances which were handled poorly with none of them being memorable at all. But on the other hand the scenes these actors did appear in were bad, and i mean some of the secondary performances were really bad. So i guess in a way i’m glad they didn’t have more than a couple minutes screen-time each. As far as humour goes…. they try, there is really only one very funny scene and that’s it, nothing else works whatsoever.
Here you have a world rich with history of eternal wars between the Gunslingers and the forces of evil and the presence of various beasts (that are not explained whatsoever)….. But instead we focus on Hunger Games or Divergent-esque post apocalyptic elements such as outsider groups and evil government experiments and it’s boring as shit. Also a decent amount of the film takes place on Earth which is a shame when you have such a rich and new world to take advantage of….. but i guess it needs to be relatable to a general audience….. stupid. The story explored in this film is so generic and dull and all the focus placed on the so called ‘special’ Dark Tower is pointless because nothing about it is ever really explained aside from maybe one generic sentence. Again, it shows so much potential for some deep, rich moments but it just skips right through everything to get to the climax which includes a very impressive action sequence but then goes out on a whimper.
So in the end i have to say i am very disappointed at how this film turned out, the very barebones story is barely enough to keep you awake and an extra 30 minutes to give a bit more meat could have gone a long way. Despite the high levels of shit spread throughout this film the one saving grace is Idris Elba’s Gunslinger. This character is awesome, intense, ruthless and a tonne of fun to watch, and where he doesn’t manage to hold up the film at least i was able to walk away having thoroughly enjoyed something. But there are a tonne more better Stephen King adaptations out there so just check them out instead. And if you’re waiting for a sequel…… don’t get your hopes up.