Movie Review – The Dark Tower (2017)

Movie Review – The Dark Tower (2017)


Martin Adil-Smith

Being nice, someone is going to have to explain The Dark Tower movie to me.It’s not that it’s a bad film… but there is so much that is unclear that I suspect it will frustrate fans and confuse muggles.

In the first instance, the movie is not based on any of the Stephen King books. Many have suggested that it is a sequel to The Master’s opus… but personally, I don’t see it. Rather I think that this film takes inspiration from the books, much in the same way that The Shawshank Redemption took inspiration from the short story but became a very different tale.

The plot, such as it is, is that a Dark Tower stands at the centre of the multiverse, holding reality together. It is under attack by Walter – The Man In Black – who is some form of chaos sorcerer, and the Tower is defended by The Gunslingers who have recently been defeated, leaving Roland as the sole survivor.

In order to destroy The Dark Tower, Walter needs a child with sufficient “Shine” (a direct reference to the Shining, but if you’re not familiar with that story, just think of it as latent psychic abilities), and that is when we are introduced to Jake Chambers who has the power and so begins a daring tale to thwart evil and save reality…

Except that there are large chunks of this movie that just don’t make sense. Walter – The Man In Black – is expertly played by Matthew McConaughey. His portrayal is hypnotic and he steals many scenes. The problem is that we understand next to nothing about his character. Ming The Merciless wants to destroy the Earth because he sees it as an eventual threat to his empire, but the Man in Black wants to tear down the walls of reality and let the demons of the void in… because why?

The role of Roland the last Gunslinger is beautifully portrayed by Idris Elba in what must be considered to be one of the most inspired casting decisions of recent years. His arc is strongly reminiscent of that of Lieutenant Waters (Bruce Willis in Tears of The Sun), who moves from viewing his allies as nothing but assets to finally appreciating their humanity and valuing their friendship. Yet much of his time is spent in Mid-World, and this is a place that we understand nothing about. Littered with detritus from our world (rusted theme parts and seemingly ancient tech that bears a human design), we are told that these are relics of the world before Mid-World… so is Mid World our future? Is it a graveyard of collapsed realties?

We just don’t know, and there is just no depth that gives the audience any sense satisfaction.

That is not to say that this a bad movie. Far from it, in places it is a good movie… but it is never great.

At a mere 95 minutes, there is just not the time to give this movie the depth and texture that is portrayed in the books, or that this story deserves.

Final verdict: 3/6