The Dark Tower brings Stephen King’s beloved world of the Gunslinger and The Man In Black to life.
Pro – Characters welcome
The Dark Tower assembles a great cast of actors to bring the characters of the film to life. Idris Elba is great as Roland the Gunslinger. e brings a real presence to the role with his brooding, minimalistic style. It would have been easy for the film to look corny, especially in the New York City parts, but Elba has a swagger and coolness factor that make it work.
I haven’t really cared much for Matthew McConaughey since he lost too much weight and started driving Lincoln cars everywhere, but he is great, too. He has an oily charm and dangerous good looks that make him perfect for The Man In Black. Tom Taylor, who plays the child protagonist Jake Chambers, is also really good. I almost always hate action movies starring a kid, so his performance was a welcome surprise.
Pro – Contained
In our modern movie landscape, the sequel is not the goal of a film, but rather the expectation. In fact, sequels aren’t even the goal anymore. If you’re not shooting for at least a trilogy, you’re not trying (see Pitch Perfect). Many movies seem to make you sit through one or two movies just to take your money and set up the real story three movies later. This trend is even more prevalent in the fantasy, sci-fi, and superhero genres. So it comes as a surprise then when The Dark Tower sets out to tell a complete story within its 95 minute run time. It was refreshing to sit through a movie with a full story arc, and not feel like I just spent $11 so I could do that again 18 months from now.
Con – Books to movies
Disclaimer: I’ve never read a single page of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. In that light, I found the story to be interesting and engaging. There was much of the world that felt unexplored and missing, but that seemed to be a reasonable trade-off for the benefits mentioned above.
That said, I went with my buddy who had read only one of The Dark Tower books, and consequently he greatly disliked the movie. I feel like that is going to be true for almost all fans of the book series. At the risk of contradicting myself above, there just isn’t a lot of meat on the bones of this film. While I liked the contained story, this is a universe that has seven books that look like NYC phonebooks worth of material. When you consider that and the paltry run time, you can start to see the problem for fans of the books. The irony here is that the people most likely to go to this movie are people who’ve read and enjoyed the books; they also seem like the demographic most likely to dislike this film.
I liked it, but if you’re a big fan of the books, manage your expectations.