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8/7/17

THE DARK TOWER - REVIEW


Based on Stephen King's series of novels, The Dark Tower is the first attempt at bringing the writer's inter-dimensional adventure to life after a long line of start-and-stop attempts. With the reviews so far being mediocre at best, it's not looking promising for this franchise starter.

The fact that there are 8 books to work from should have guaranteed a packed first instalment setting up King's universe and its main players. The cool trailers promised lots of action, creative visuals, a massive scale and even a bit of humour so this really seemed like a safe bet despite fans of the novels already having their reservations. The reviews have been cruel and, although this movie isn't the complete train-wreck it's been painted as, it's hard to deny it deserves a bit of a spanking. Setting aside the fact that Stephen King fans have expressed how much it butchers the source novels, as a film it fails on several accounts. We're introduced to this big concept where a giant tower is somehow keeping our world and all the other worlds intact but this is never explored: What is this tower? Who built it? Do people live in it? How does it heal itself? Why does it do anything? Never explained. Instead, we're sold a surprisingly simplistic plot where an Earth kid finds a portal to another world, becomes pals with a gunslinger and they both try to take down the bad guy.

Speaking of which, Matthew McConaughey is easily the best part of this movie as the intimidating Devil-like antagonist The Man In Black (aka Walter). This is a charmingly creepy performance that belongs in a much better movie. Idris Elba is also reliably good as Roland the gunslinger and even Tom Taylor does a good job as the main kid Jake so the performances really just about hold this movie together, not unlike the Dark Tower itself. This is a ridiculously short movie with a solid build-up but a laughably rushed third act which begs the question: did the filmmakers just lose dozens of reels of film in a fire? The pacing is completely off, the mythology is unexplored, the characters are underwritten and none of its ideas are explained making it more of a proof of concept than a fully finished film. You're left filling in all the blanks and it's exhausting, infuriating even because you can tell there is a really cool story in there somewhere, sadly not in this movie. This just about works as a TV pilot but releasing it as a Summer blockbuster release is simply masochistic.

Solid cast and slick visuals aside, The Dark Tower is a plodding yet criminally rushed template that just doesn't cut it. It's not an obvious disaster as you're watching it and it has some genuinely good moments, but as soon as the credits roll you'll be left wondering where the rest of the film went.

Disappointing.

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