To say that millions were “waiting” for the screen adaptation of King’s opus magnum is an understatement.
I myself was overjoyed once I heard that the project’s main stars will include Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, Tom Holkenborg will compose and Nikolaj Arcel will direct. However, as Dante Alighieri wisely said – „All hope abandon, ye who enter here”.
Among the various worlds, there is a tower – a beacon that supports a shield guarding these worlds from demons and darkness. However, an evil being known as The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) plots to destroy the tower. In order to do so, he needs to find a kid with a special gift, known as the “Light”. Such kid is Jake (Tom Taylor) from New York, who dreams of the tower and the entwined worlds. Once Jake learns about the truthfulness of his visions, he embarks on a journey with The Gunslinger (Idris Elba) – the only man powerful enough to destroy The Man in Black.
Nine books, way over thousand pages of source material, incredibly complex world – all that packed in 90 minutes was a bold, if not a preposterous, idea. One may only assume that only a true genius would be able to squeeze it all into something actually groundbreaking. However, Nikolaj Arcel was definitely not the right choice.
The plot of the film is where the problem begins – even though, surprisingly, the plot does make sense. Jake is the gifted kid that the evil character hunts for among different worlds and needs to gain the trust of The Gunslinger in order to save the mysterious Dark Tower. However, this whole journey could easily take the same amount of screen time as Tolkien’s fellowship in “The Lord Of The Rings”. Jake and The Gunslinger go from place to place, fight demons that either reminisce orcs from aforementioned trilogy, hordes of Xerxes in “300” or Ridley Scott’s “Alien”. Things jump from action to action, but the viewer never gets the opportunity to understand what the hell is that “Dark Tower” really. Who build it? Minions from “Despicable Me”?
During the ninety minutes of the runtime, a lot of questions will pop up, that sadly – will remain unanswered. This is the main issue with “The Dark Tower” – everything seems to be only hinted, skimmed, as if the story lacked in substance. The same applies to the characters. McConaughey, in his all-black coat and naked neckline, is far from a menacing character that kills with a sardonic smile. Sometimes it is the fault of Arcel’s fallible direction, but mostly, it’s rooted in the poor script. He emerges from nowhere, declaims some lines and… that would be it.
Elba is not any better, as his Gunslinger is one of the most generic “good guys” that the cinema has witnessed. It is incredible how much more wasted talent was present on set – Katherine Winnick from “The Vikings” and Jackie Earle Haley – the famous Rorschach – to name some, apart from two main characters of Elba and McConaughey. The only bright point is Tom Taylor as Jake, who clearly enjoyed being the axis of the plot.
Even more infuriating is the fact that Arcel wasted not only acting talents. Tom Holkenborg’s soundtrack could be very well suited, as the classic themes are weaved with a somber touch and Mad-Max-like heights. The cinematography plays out well too, as the worlds we observe are not as out of the blue as it happened in “Warcraft” for example. Nonetheless, it all falls flat. For some strange reason, “The Dark Tower” always feels incredibly shallow, as if nobody wanted to pay tribute to King’s saga.
The Dark Tower (2017)
Dir. Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey
Hate Grade: 5.5/10