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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Dark Tower

August 6th, 2017 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

The Dark Tower (12a)
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey & Tom Taylor 
Running time: 1hr 35mins

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black

Summer’s finally here! Well, actually, summer’s been here for quite a while already, and that means it’s time to roll out all the Late Summer Blockbuster™ contenders.

Those “might be a hit, might be a flop” hopefuls from the grand tradition of films such as Duane Johnson’s Hercules, or the  Men-in-Black-with-ghosts farce, RIPD.  And in the spirit of those mighty hits we have The Dark Tower, an adaptation of Stephen King’s much loved (and verbose) fantasy epic.

Jake Chambers is a troubled boy.

Ever since his heroic firefighting father died in the line of duty, he’s been plagued by dreams of a mysterious man in black and his rat-faced, human skinsuit-wearing lackeys kidnapping kids so they can shoot lasers powered by the children’s brains – at a mysterious structure. Is he having a breakdown? Or is he simply the chosen one who can travel to a magical dimension and help save the universe? Predictably, it’s the latter.

It takes less than ten minutes of the film’s sparse 95-minute run time to squander all the promise of the source material’s brilliantly loaded first line, “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed”, and turn it into yet another story where some brat from New York is the only one who can save us all.

It’s difficult to figure out exactly who The Dark Tower is aimed at: clearly not fans of the book who will (quite rightly) rail against the story’s true leads – The Gunslinger and The Man in Black- being subverted in favour of combining the four main characters from Stranger Things into one person, a move presumably made to make it more “marketable”.

But to whom?

It’s too gritty for young kids and there are too many periods of nothing happening for it to hold any appeal for teens.

The casting of Idris Elba (same as he ever was) and Matthew McConaughey (rapidly evolving into a next-generation Dot Cotton) seems to suggest it’s for adults. But they won’t like it and I know, I’m one of those. And I love those two guys. And I hate this.

The truly frustrating thing is that there are fleeting moments when the promise of all the constituent elements combine for a dazzling glance at what could have been. But since these are bogged down in the mire of a plot that is somehow too complicated and too dull at the same time, it matters little. And they have the temerity to leave things open for a sequel. What balls!

In short: The Dark Tower is a grim ’n’ gritty reboot of the Neverending Story, that for three very entertaining minutes in the middle becomes all the best bits of Star Trek IV, before settling into a groove of every summer blockbuster flop that you ever forgot you saw.

What a pointless waste of everyone and everything involved.

1 out of 5 nerds

I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.