I should start out by saying that I have never read any The Dark Tower books. Or any book for that matter. Nah, I’m joking. I do read, but not very often. I love how people get so defensive of a beloved book being turned in to a film though. People must just accept the fact that 99% of the time, the book will always be better. End of. You cannot possibly compare your own imagination to that of the screenwriters and director’s. It’s the same when it comes to remakes and reboots. Who cares if one is better than the other? For me it’s about seeing their take on the book / original film as opposed to wanting it to be better. The beauty of watching a film without reading the book is that it can be watched without any prior judgement, and that’s probably a good thing when it comes to The Dark Tower.
The film opens in the “other world” where children’s minds are being used by Walter, or “Man in Black” (Matthew McConaughey) to topple the Dark Tower once and for all. We’re then introduced to Jake (Tom Taylor) on Earth, who is having very vivid dreams of this other world. So much so his bedroom is covered in drawings of what he has seen. He knows what he is seeing is real but no one believes him. His mother Laurie (Katheryn Winnick) is very concerned about his behaviour and feels it is related to his father’s death. Jake continues to have these dreams and it’s in one of them where we see Roland (Idris Elba) a Gunslinger who has been battling Walter for what appears to be forever. Roland is the only one who can resist Walter’s magic but has struggled to kill his long-term nemesis. Jake then has another dream of a house, to which he goes to on his own. After a near-death encounter with a “demon” thing he’s managed to enter this other world and stumbles across Gunslinger Roland. From here it becomes a race to stop Walter, all the while Walter is trying to capture Jake (for reasons you’ll find out) in a very back and forth fashion that frankly becomes super annoying.
The film has many flaws, but the biggest is by far the running time. At just 95 minutes, the film is throwing so much at the audience in such a short amount of time and it severely affects the pacing. It’s rushed, slow, rushed, slow etc throughout and everything suffers because of it. It needed to be at least 2 hours to allow more time with the world and the building of the characters. The next flaw however is the script. In some scenes, the dialogue was so bad it just felt as if the actors were reading their lines off a card behind the camera. But fault lies with the actors themselves though, with Elba & McConaughey having zero chemistry with each other. Their scenes should have been powerful and dramatic but instead felt forced and unnatural. Like they just wanted to get the take over with and move on to the next one. This was even more evident in the finale, which had a “is that it?” feel.
The film isn’t awful by any means. It had some nice touches. The action scenes were choregraphed well and were fun. Especially one great scene where Roland dispatches an enemy in a Call of Duty “No Scope” style. However, the gunslinger’s “mantra” got very annoying. Partly because it is so long and makes no sense. But it is in the book from what I researched online so I guess it had to be included. Director Nikolaj Arcel always had a difficult task ahead of him when adapting such a famed series. You can never get everything right as a director but with The Dark Tower there is far more wrong than right. Some book-to-film adaptations still work in their own way, if you take them as a film and don’t compare it to the book, however The Dark Tower is not one of them. It is messy and confused in whatever way you view it. I wouldn’t rush to the cinema for this one guys.