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The Dark Tower [2017]

The Dark Tower [2017] is a film adaptation/sequel of Stephen King’s epic fantasy series of the same name. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel and starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Taylor, the film follows the story of a young boy named Jake who meets a Gunslinger bent on killing the mysterious Man In Black who is attempting to bring down The Dark Tower.

Go then, there are other worlds than these. King has always been a proponent of film adaptations of his works, even when they don’t always turn out so well. He’s advised that these should be seen as “alternate realities” of the stories he’s telling, in an attempt to let them stand on their own and not be held so closely to criticism of how well they adapt the source material. This excuse, along with this particular film technically following the events of the book series, was intended to give the creators the possibility of freedom to do whatever was necessary without being judged too harshly on specific elements they chose to use and hint at from the books. I’m afraid to say this doesn’t work in anyone’s favor whatsoever, and beyond being a poorly made film all around there’s very little fan service to satisfy those who are enamored with King’s magnum opus.

You have forgotten the face of your father. The production of this film had issues, with a release date being pushed back to film extra scenes and retool parts of the film based on test screenings from audiences who obviously weren’t fans or at all knowledgeable about the books. The brisk 95 minutes somehow drags along filled with scenes that feel like quick moments that are meant to be epic or significant in some way but no one had enough patience to let moments evolve, build, develop, and pay off. This feels like a TV movie adaptation where the filmmaker was given a vague checklist of pieces from a few of the novels and did their best to check them all off and move to the next moment as fast as possible. The whole film feels cut together incredibly poorly, with scenes cutting between moments that feel jarring and misaligned. There’s a complete lack of flow and everything comes about with extreme convenience. No one has to stop and think, no one is truly challenged, it’s all handed over immediately so the film can hurry up and be done.

Bird and bear and hare and fish. None of the performances come across as anything spectacular either, and McConaughey specifically seems incredibly drab all around. Many of the scenes are poorly lit and look really bad, and any effects are far from blockbuster action movie standards. There’s an attempt to set up and payoff relationship situations or other character develops but it’s shallow to the point of feeling like an announcement. “Here’s a thing to remember. Did you remember it? Look, we’re paying it off now. Moving on.” There are little nods to major parts of the book series but the way the story plays out proves that they’ll be nothing more than nods rather than massive plot points as they should be. The film unravels and ultimately ends in such an incredibly unsatisfying way it’s insanely apparent that Sony had no desire to take any chances in regards to really anything that The Dark Tower series is even about.

See the turtle of enormous girth. As an outsider, I can only imagine that the world building within the film feels shallow as well. There’s no real mystery to anything happening, major plot elements not revealed until the 6th book are shown in the opening scene of the film with little care. The audience is thrown into Devar Toi with little regard, shown Taheen and Low Men with little to now explanation or emphasis, overly explained to about the Shine, brought to Lud without introduction, given an overly simplified and not exactly correct interpretation of what the tower actually is and does, and it’s all a wet blanket for poorly written and overpowered characters who speak poorly written and on the nose dialogue to wrap around them as an attempt to bring the uninitiated into a sprawling universe that’s contained within thousands of pages and interwoven throughout almost the entirety of King’s bibliography. The end result is a product that was pieced together by a studio who had no direction or guts, resulting in little more than a made for TV movie adaptation of the young adult version of a poorly written fan fiction based on The Dark Tower series.

A surprisingly bland and uninteresting mess of a product.

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The Dark Tower [2017]
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