Jake Chambers is a young boy plagued with dreams of a ‘Man In Black’ who abducts children in alternate universe so as to attack a fabled ‘dark tower’. As a defence against all the evils of the universe, this dark tower can only be destroyed by the mind of a child and Matthew McConaughey’s “Man in Black” coverts Jake’s mind most of all for its hidden psychic ability.
As a film adaptation of Stephen King’s expansive series of novels, ‘The Dark Tower’ makes for a surprisingly fast movie at 85 minutes. In what feels like a furiously brutal edit of a much longer piece, action happens at a break-neck pace, characters are ushered in and out in sentences and grand concepts get the merest of mentions. So why with so much source material on offer is ‘The Dark Tower’ is in such a rush to tell its opening chapter?
Whilst not an outright disaster, the fault lines are still clear to see...
Beset with a history of on-set problems and multiple directors who disappeared from the project, ‘The Dark Tower’ stands shakily as a result of these behind-the-scenes tensions. Whilst not an outright disaster, the fault lines are still clear to see. With the exception of Tom Taylor’s endearing performance as Jake and Idris Elba’s gravelly earnestness, the cast’s clearly truncated dialogue renders this movie an incomplete watch for both King purists and fantasy genre fans alike. For whilst Matthew McConaughey’s suitably villainous ‘Man in Black’ delivers the required menace, with only a butchered backstory to go on, none of the characters really stand-up to close examination and the film clearly suffers all the more for it.
That said, whilst much has been made about how much of an outright disaster this movie is, I have seen many worse ones which neither had a tale to tell, or an original thought to their merit. ‘The Dark Tower’ is not that movie. What it is, is a the opening episode in what feels like a television series that has bizarrely found it’s way on to a cinema screen. In a surprisingly watchable mixture of ‘A Monster Calls’, ’Time Bandits’ and the ‘The Fisher King’, ’The Dark Tower’ clearly rattles but it doesn’t completely fall over.
With its clear nod to sequels and spin-offs, it’s clear that this is not the last we will hear of the ‘Man in Black or Idris Elba’s ‘Gunslinger’. However, like the on-screen adaptation of Philip Pullman’s ‘The Golden Compass’, the next ‘Dark Tower’ movie will have to learn to properly embrace its literary contents and not try to cram them into a popcorn cliché.