My Friday film this week took the shape of The Dark Tower. The adaptation by Nickolaj Arcel features Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. The film flips between worlds names Keystone Earth and Midworld as characters attempt to save the mysterious Tower. I was not very excited for this film after seeing the trailer, however many others seemed to be excited for it so I thought I'd give it a chance. Sitting down with my drink and my popcorn I didn't know what to expect but I wasn't expecting to be wowed. I was right this film was quite disappointing and didn't have many redeeming qualities.
One major talking point for the film is it's comparison to the Stephen King series from which it is based on. Now as seemingly one the few who have yet to read this series (I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point) it is hard to gauge how well this adaptation is done. However it is very apparent even from the beginning that the film is struggling to squeeze eight books worth of material into 1 hour 35 minutes of screen time. The effect this brings is a very rushed and confusing script making the urgency of saving the Tower. From a small amount of background research I am led to believe the novels more closely follow the exploits of Roland Deschain a gunslinger portrayed in the film by Idris Elba. The film however follows the story of New York teen Jake, a change I assume is made to limit the amount of information needed for the characters to make sense.
Reducing the role of Roland to a secondary character is a huge shame as this is where the best acting is seen. Elba portrays the gruff gunslinger with a quiet amount of fragility and paternal care. The actions scenes are also some of the best in the film, Elba's confidence and surety in every action reassures the audience he will always come out on top. One casting choice I did disagree with was that of Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. McConaughey lacked the gravitas and menace needed to bring the tyrannical sorcerer to life. Instead I found his scenes rather creepy with bizarre sexual undertones. The supporting cast and lead child actor Tom Taylor battle against a clunky script and a distinct lack of drive behind their characters.
One small redeeming factor was the locations used and the set created to make the apocalyptic Midworld. The small mirroring features that link Midworld and Keystone Earth help the audience understand the multiverse structure of the film. These links do not however make up for the lack of exposition or lore surrounding the universe the film is set in. Stephen King is famous for this multiverse in particular, he himself calling it his magnum opus. The lack of detail made the film quite confused and left me lacking empathy for many of the characters never mind understanding the importance of the characters actions.
In conclusion this is not a film I would recommend going to see in cinemas. If you are desperate to see it or a big fan of the books you will be severely disappointed and I suggest waiting till it's available to stream.
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