Release Date: August 4, 2017
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, Stephen King
Cast: Katheryn Winnick, Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbey Lee, Nicholas Hamilton, Dennis Haysbert, Claudia Kim, Tom Taylor, Fran Kranz, Jose Zuniga, Victoria Nowak, Ben Gavin, Stephen Stanton, Michael Barbieri, Andre Robinson, Lara Adine Lipschitz, Karl Thaning, Paul Riley Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 95 minutes
Production Company: Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Media Rights Capital (MRC), Imagine Entertainment, Wee Road Pictures, Columbia Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Budget: $60,000,000 (estimated)
For as long as I can remember evil doers have always tried to reign over the good and righteous. When will it stop? It most likely never will, so why not create as many versions of the endless battle as possible right. That’s what Stephen King pulled off when he wrote The Dark Tower. Set in a fantasized world, the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) rules over one dimension, but isn’t satisfied and wants to rule them all. In the trailers this was marketed as a fun filled action adventure fantasy, with great actors, cool gun play, and different world we’ve never known. Being directed by Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) he did create the fantasy that was depicted in the marketing, but still fell short of creating anything memorable, even though you’ll still have a good time.
What didn’t work too well in the film were the visual effects. They were very disappointing not coming close to anything we all know a Hollywood budget can produce. While viewing it felt like the studio Song Pictures was afraid to really dive in deep as what the book contained as far as extra-terrestrials. While there was one demonic creature that became a floor, another was a red cloud, and a third, some type of crawling beast, it was hard to make up their true nature. It was dark, cloudy, and hard to see and became a nuisance when on screen instead of a notable treat.
At least the film had its moments of comic relief that did feel natural. That is coming from Roland (Idris Elba) mostly. Seeing him as a fish out of water in a different world did ground the film. As well as other references to American culture, and how we love to hold our guns was hilarious making the audience be able to relate. No jokes were forced in either. They all were real life reactions to everyday situations.
For someone that has never read the book, I had a vivid understand of the new world I was getting to know and how it all worked. The world building and the rules that are contained within were possibly the best parts of the film seeing them put together. I become even more curious as I wanted to know what’s out there, way beyond the stars, which is a testament on how the film is a good escape from your everyday life.
Idris Elba was decent in his role too. I’ve seen him do better, but it may have been the character he was playing that is not making me jump up and down for joy. He was tired, beat-up, and just wanted to sleep, or least, that’s the way he came across. If I was in the middle of an endless war, I’d probably feel the same way too. McConaughey did a splendid job as the villain. He just didn’t care and would kill anything in his way to accomplish his goal. All his powers and abilities were neat, but came across too easy. I felt he was never presented with a foe worthy enough to challenge him. He killed everyone with ease which over time became a little repetitive.
The gun play by Roland was awesome though. It took a while for him to go off showing all of his skills, but once he did, it was worth the wait. Even with it being a textbook definition of unrealistic for some reason I didn’t care and soaked it all in.
In the end The Dark Tower is a fun film that I enjoyed. With expectations mediocre I walked satisfied, but still believe we should’ve gotten more as audience members. While the final showdown between Roland and the Man in Black was thorough, looking all kinds of cool, it still needed more bang for your buck to warrant multiple viewings if that was even an option.