Angrily disappointed is how I would describe my feelings after seeing this film. I was excited about The Dark Tower as I am a huge fan of the book series by Stephen King (I read every book twice so far) and had much hope with Ron Howard attached as a producer and Ildris Elba cast as Roland. Alas, the will of Ka is strong but not with this movie.
Instead of portraying the story as the epic it is (The Dark Tower is King’s Lord of the Rings), it’s packaged as a mediocre action movie. Sadly, very little of the book is in here other than some of the key elements and characters as the film is simply “based on” but obviously not beholden to the original material as it should be. As a filmmaker, I understand that the film version will always have to conform the material for the platform. However, there’s conforming but this is case of going off the rails. There’s a lot of liberties taken with the story while the characters seem mostly true to who they’re based on so at least there’s that. They should’ve just asked Peter Jackson to take this and run with it…
As an action movie, it’s ok at best, so even if you never read the book it’s hard to be excited about the film no matter what side of it you’re coming from. The action is highly choreographed and predictable with the coolest element being the slick gunslinger tricks that Roland pulls off. Richocheting bullets off of each other, never missing, some rad re-loading tricks, are all there, which was a enjoyable aspect they brought in as part of the characteristics of a gunslinger. Otherwise, there never felt like there was much of a threat to the main characters as most of the clashes looked and felt very staged lacking a rawness that may have helped the dynamic.
The acting is decent but noone was a scene stealer for me. Elba as Roland of Gilead was a great casting choice but he seems muted in his delivery with his performance falling a bit flat. Matthew McConaughey as Walter aka The Man in Black isn’t very compelling either. He’s too busy being cool, missing opportunities to be menacing and overall never seems terrifying. It felt like both actors were being kept on a leash when there was potential for so much more from each role. Tom Taylor as Jake is fine but is as cookie cutter as the rest of the cast which includes Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert, Claudia Kim, and Abbey Lee.
If you loved the book, you’ll probably want to stay away from this one and hope as I do, that the wheel of Ka stops here.
reviewed by Sean McKnight