The amount of expectation heaped upon the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower meant that it was always going to disappointment fans of the book series. Years in development hell (read all about it here) meant that the version which finally made it to the screen in 2017 is a compromised vision, but one which is fun in an 1980s fantasy movie sort of way. It’s a solid B-movie (albeit with A-list talent) which features enjoyable elements, but it doesn’t really offer anything other than a simplistic good versus evil plot.
Matthew McConaughey is Walter Padick, The Man In Black, an inter-universal villain eager to bring down the titular Dark Tower so that he can bring darkness to the universe. He wants young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a boy strong with the shining, who just might be the one Walter needs to destroy civilisation. Standing in Walter’s way is Idris Elba’s Roland Deschain, a gunslinger riding the revenge trail after the Man In Black killed his father.
Running at just 90 minutes The Dark Tower covers a lot of plot in a very short space of time (the source material is an 8-book series) and this is at the detriment to a lot of characterisation. Matthew McConaughey has fun as the Man In Black, playing him like a cross between Darth Vader and Gabriel Byrne’s Satan in 1999’s Schwarzenegger actioner End Of Days. Meanwhile, another Schwazengger film gets a touch (The Last Action Hero) when Jake takes Elba’s disappointing Gunslinger to modern day New York. Nikolaj Arcel’s film also features a lot of call backs to other Stephen King tales – will you be able to spot them?
While I know that The Dark Tower is a missed opportunity, I enjoyed a lot of what it had to offer. McConaughey was good value and the film delivered some decent set pieces. It’s not the greatest Stephen King adaptation, but it’s a fun romp that doesn’t outstay its welcome. Yes, it could have been better and it could have been a more faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s epic opus, but it’s not as bad you it could have been. That might be faint praise, but it’s praise all the same.