'The Dark Tower' Should Never Have Been An Action Blockbuster

Director Nikolaj Arcel and co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen are now writing the script, though depending on the reception of the film, that could change before long. While not bad, it is an unremarkable work of cinema and, with about 90 minutes of actual story, feels like an extended pilot for a television series.

Honestly, I just can't get over how much of a disaster this movie turned out to be. Likely it was days filled with Sony Pictures head Tom Rothman standing over the editor screaming, "IS IT DONE YET?"

The film's story centers on 11-year-old James Chambers (Tom Taylor), who is plagued by visions of a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), a "Gunslinger" (Idris Elba), and a mythical Dark Tower. (A slower movie would have deepened the characters and brought out their motivations for members of the audience who don't already know that stuff from the novels.) But that's also partly because of Elba, who is one of those movie stars you can't take your eyes off of.

Jumping through a portal to Mid-World, Jake finds himself in the middle of the feud between Roland Deschain/the Gunslinger and Walter/the Man in Black, which began when Walter killed all the Gunslingers - including Roland's father, Steven (Dennis Haysbert). Roland, upon hearing of Jake's dreams, seeks the assistance of a seer to interpret Jake's drawings, as they may lead him to Walter.

The Dark Tower TV series is in development, but no network has picked up the show.

"Explaining how he tackled the big diet change, he told USA breakfast show Good Morning America, "(I) started off with a 10-day fast to kick-start losing all the fat that I had on myself on Gold. The audience learns the lore as Jake progresses through the story. In this area, the movie has a hard time setting itself apart; despite all the Stephen King easter eggs, at times it feels more like somebody took the Western-futuristic aesthetic of Firefly, blended it together with the sorcery and demons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and slapped some Stargates in for good measure.

About halfway through the movie, Jack discovers that he shines, which means he has psychic abilities. It's epic, weird stuff, weaving in themes and ephemera from King's other works (the concept of "shining" is featured prominently here), to synthesize a whole grand universe, one rife with possibility. King's Constant Readers will also get a kick at some of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) references to his other works. In King's "The Dark Tower" books, Jack possess a similar power called "The Touch". Nobody wins that way, with the uninitiated baffled, and the fans not getting the good stuff they've been waiting for.

McConaughey and Elba are the reasons the movie succeeds as well as it does because the movie truly is fun. Reshoots and new edits were administered and fans had to wait forever to see the lackluster trailer.

It remains to be seen just how Sony's plans for a vast multi-platform rollout of The Dark Tower and its many stories will proceed in the wake of not-so-great reviews for the feature film adaptation.

  • Rogelio Becker