Saturday, August 5, 2017

Movie Review: The Dark Tower

I went into this movie with very low expectations already skeptical after the trailers and even more so after the bad reviews. The Dark Tower is a rough and cheesy fantasy film that is typical of the genre. The odd world-building and strange dialogue did not benefit from two veteran actors and source material from one of the most popular authors in the world. I read that the film attempted to be a sequel to the long series and a starting point for new viewers but the early box office results do not show the books' popularity and PG-13 rating are helping. The film makes some strange choices mainly focusing on the child actor instead of the big names and skimping on the action advertised. The Dark Tower will most likely be a false start for what was anticipated to be the start of an extended universe of television and films.

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has strange dreams of a man in black (Matthew McConaughey) using children to create a weapon and attack a tower. With the death of Jake's father, his mother Laurie (Katheryn Winnick) seeks psychological help for Jake and at the urging of her new husband, she plans to send Jake to a special clinic. Jake realizes that the operators of this clinic are the strange creature wearing human face to blend in. He escapes and seeks out a building from his dreams. This building contains a portal that transports him to another dimension known as Mid-World where he meets the Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba). Jake tells Roland about his dream and together they seek the man in black's lair, mentioning that the man in black is named Walter. 

Walter searches for Jake realizing that he has special powers tracking down his parents. Jake and Roland fights demons that break through the barrier after the man in black launches another on the tower with the mind of another child. The demons succumb to Roland's pistols as Jake helps the Gunslinger. Walter learns of Jake's dreams and murders his parents. The two travelers find a village that has a portal back to Jake's dimension, known as Keypoint Earth. In the village, a seer named Arra (Claudia Kim) helps Jake with his psychic abilities referencing another Stephen King novel a bit too much and helping the Gunslinger learn his path. The man in black sends his ghouls to attack the village and Roland fights them off before transporting with Jake back to Earth.

On Earth, Roland is healed from his wounds and Jake discovers his mother's death. The two decide to fight the man in black loading up on bullets but are separated at the gun shop. Jake is captured by Walter and his crew led by Sayre (Jackie Earle Haley). Roland pursues the man in black leading to a gun battle between Walter's minions and Roland. The fight has some interesting scenes and Roland takes on Walter who can catch bullets. Eventually, Jake uses his powers to slow the man in black and Roland defeats him. The two head off for further adventures that will probably not happen in this dimension.

The Dark Tower showed a lot of promise with the action scenes and some new ideas for gunfighting but in the end, it suffers from its fantasy premise and poor storytelling choices. Tom Taylor has to carry a lot of the film making this more of a young adult adventure and suffering from his inexperience as an actor. Idris Elba is fine in his role though the dialogue is hard to take seriously and the attempts at humor often fall flat. Matthew McConaughey is campy in his villainous role but also seems foolish with some of the things he has to say. Stephen King has plenty of novels that will continue to be adapted but this series will have to wait for another attempt to reach the screen and find success. 

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