The Dark Tower (2017)

The Dark Tower (2017) Cover

The Dark Tower is to its source material as coffee-flavored ice cream is to coffee. While missing the things that define coffee, the ice cream is something good with that unmistakable flavor. If what you really want is coffee, then you won’t be happy, but otherwise, you’re likely to enjoy it. The movie is missing the greater mythology, characters, and most of the themes but is a coherent adventure story with lots of Dark Tower flavor to it.

The challenge in converting an 8-book epic, especially one as expansive as The Dark Tower, into a digestible or even enjoyable experience is unbelievable. However, that is exactly what this film accomplishes. It’s not the same as reading the books and doesn’t deliver the same experience; but, you’ll get a fun ride that’s well-paced, coherent, and fueled by engaging performances.

Performances from Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey steal the show here. Their work is the best reason to watch the movie. McConaughey dives into the role of the villain with an almost comical enthusiasm. It’s a delight to watch, especially as it plays off of Elba’s performance as Roland the gunslinger. His hard-as-nails persona isn’t surprising, as you can see it in recent films such as Star Trek: Beyond. The two work so well together that I could enjoy seeing them together more often.

Tom Taylor plays the lead role of Jake Chambers. As far as child actors go, he’s okay. His delivery during the core emotional moments fail to feel convincing, but the director (Nikolaj Arcel) mutes this weakness by cutting those scenes with flashbacks. It’s a neat little trick that gives Taylor more room to breathe and removes a little of the weight off of his performance. There were no particularly weak performances here to steal from what worked well.

As I mentioned before, the story fails to capture almost any of the essence of the books, but that would be an impossible task. That’s almost a benefit. While it won’t satisfy fans of the source completely, it is a fun diversion that doesn’t require 8 books of investment to enjoy. The texture that the universe gets from the books gives it a rich background to tell its story in. Stephen King created some beautiful characters and locations that live and breathe even in this muted version of his world.

I’d be lying if I pretended not to be sad about the lack of greater depth and meaning from King’s work. Not very much gets used here, and I didn’t like that so much was missing. I can’t help but feel like there could have been a little more purpose to the movie given how much the books have. This will keep people who wanted the very specific things that this series delivers unhappy if they’re unable to keep from comparing the two.

While this keeps The Dark Tower from transcending the action genre, it doesn’t keep it from being one of the most fun movies of the summer. Viewers will be treated to a well-crafted adventure with great actors and a certain flavor that you can’t get from anywhere else. If you’re looking for a fun ride, The Dark Tower is definitely worth your time.

Final Verdict:A well-crafted adventure with great actors and a certain flavor that you can't get from anywhere else.