Movie Review: THE DARK TOWER is Not Good

Movie Review: THE DARK TOWER is Not Good

The Dark Tower is based on a series of 8 Stephen King books that also connect to the vast majority of Stephen King's body of work to create what is in essence the Kingverse- all of his novels exist within the many worlds that lead to the dark tower.

The novels are a sprawling epic that blend fantasy, western, horror and sci-fi tropes into a satisfyingly complex read. The books follow Roland, the last gunslinger, who is on a quest to defeat the man in black and save the dark tower from falling. For if the tower falls, then the Kingverse will crumble - including our world. The books are clearly Roland's story, although they also focus on members of his group that essentially become his family: Jake, a young kid that has re-lived his own death at the hands of Roland; Eddie,  a former junkie that becomes Roland's right-hand man; and Odetta Holmes, a wheelchair-bound woman with violent split personalities.     If you are looking for a movie that follows these characters and honors the 4,000+ page text, then look elsewhere. The Dark Tower is not the movie for you.

The Dark Tower strips away all of the complexity of the text and turns it into a Young Adult Last Action Hero remake with Stephen King undertones. Jake becomes the main character, while Eddie and Odetta are not in the film. Roland is relegated into the sidekick protector that's introduced a quarter of the way through the film and who does nothing but shoot really well. The man in black as played by Matthew McConaughey is portrayed as a scenery chewing asshole who keeps talking about his "magicks" - it's a terrible performance.

Much of the books are spent on Midworld, a post apocalyptic world that has moved on and is crumbling away. The Dark Tower chooses to sideline much of that world and is primarily set on Earth. If you simply watch The Dark Tower with no knowledge of the books, you would have no inkling of just how rich this world can be; the film is a breezy 95 minute sprint that can be boiled down to: Jake finds out he is the one, he meets Roland and gets his protection, and together they defeat the man in black and save the dark tower. The end. No real setup for future tales, because the story is complete. As presented, the film is serviceable but dull. 

The Dark Tower had a very troubled production and was initially a two and a half hour film. When test audiences were confused, the studio cut the movie down to the bone. This series was never meant to be a film; given its depth, it would have been much more suited as an R rated HBO series. Instead, we are left with a watered-down PG-13 film that is as cheap as a Paul Anderson Resident Evil film.

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