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Movie Review: The Dark Tower

Written by Josh Brewer, August 4th, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


Title:  The Dark Tower

Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel
Release Date: August 4th, 2017
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Jackie Earle Haley

Cliff’s Notes

A gunslinger tries to protect a tower from a guy who drives a Lincoln. See how clear that was; how not confusing it is? Yeah, the movie ain’t gonna try that hard. Me: 1 / Shitty Movie:0.

Lecture

The latest Stephen King adaptation, and one of two hitting within the next month, just falls flat. Nothing stands out to differentiate it from the Hollywood quagmire. What’s more, a number of the technical elements come off as weak instead of capable, with the SFX working as a joke long before they seem reasonable. And the editing – if you’d like to call it that- ranges from barely Suicide Squad crap level to literally terrible. Things end up obscured and indecipherable, rendering most of the 90 minute run time – yep, you read that right- boring at best. Moviegoers can find some amazing King adaptations, this ain’t one of them.

Sure, the cast does alright- with a cast of this calibre that should be a sign that things don’t work – and a few of the moments work, but this puppy reeks of an involved studio with no idea what they’re doing. In trying to make a Dark Tower movie, they’ve gotten rid of anything that may be considered quality and replaced it with shots of Elba reloading his guns in slow motion.

And that’s if you haven’t read the books. If you have, the entire thing seems like more of a waste. As someone who’s read the novels – which I tried to keep out of my initial pass of this puppy- the errors here seem even more egregious. Gone are the defined characters and intricate backstory. The unique use of language and massive, sprawling worlds of The Dark Tower are reduced to a pair of poorly rendered cgi models. Folks call The Dark Tower King’s magnum opus, a million word exercise in character and fantasy that serves as an American counterpart to Tolkien. Instead, we get shitty CGI glass and a story that works about as well as a shit flavored lollipop.

Acting

What makes this whole thing even less awesome you may ask? How about having a competent and wonderful cast with literally nothing to do. Elba’s charisma serves him well, but I have to wonder why he’s given nothing to do for the entirety of the flick. He’s one of the finest actors working, but his role seems secondary in his own movie. McConaughey also does well, though his work seems a little unspecific at times. That’s probably because everything about his character is so poorly written that he’s left to do it by himself. Taylor serves as a quality audience surrogate; he’s confused most of the time. Kranz, Haley, and Kershaw, who have earned their stripes in better flicks, deserve better than this.

Directing

Arcel manages a few interesting moments, mostly Roland reloading his gun, but most of this puppy ranges from forgettable to incomprehensible. There’s little to nothing that makes the flick stand out, which seems strange because there’s plenty to pull from. I do wonder how much of this mess comes from an overactive edit that doesn’t feel organic in any sense of the word.

Script

It took four people to write a 95 minute movie where the plot stands as incomprehensible and the characters have literally no back story. Things are introduced and skimmed over so quickly that the stuff which should be important can’t separate from the things that shouldn’t be in the flick in the first place. Nope.

Effects

Shitty. The effects are shitty. I know, a bunch of folks are gonna say that the only had 60 million dollars. Great. Go see Serenity or Deadpool or The Lego Moive. Hell, even check out Ted 2 and tell me the budget ruins it. The work just doesn’t show up on the screen. But, the gun reloads seem cool. So that’s something.

Highlights

The cast works really well.

Lowlights

I’m gonna be honest, had I not read the books, this thing would make little to no sense. But because I have, I think the whole thing is worse.

Final Thoughts  

King has often complained the Kubrick’s version of The Shining was nothing more than “A big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it.” That’s really a much better description for the Dark Tower. Immediately forgettable, The Dark Tower is nothing more than a bunch of crap and Idris Elba reloading in a bunch of interesting ways.

Grade: D+ (unless you’ve read the books and we’re expecting something. Then it gets a big old F.)

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