The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic:
on THE DARK TOWER (2017, 95 minutes, PG-13)
The Quick of It -
Welcome to age-crippled mediocrity. You see, this story is born of the 80’s in the mind of one, Mr. Stephen King. And, from his inspirations he drew on during that time, which highly influenced certain traits and key features of the story, you end up with something defunct.
THE DARK TOWER carries many of the common themes used for epic narration and was popularly used in the 80’s. A ‘hero’ who has lost faith in himself and his cause. A ‘villain’ that has insurmountable power and must inevitably be challenged. An ‘innocent’ with the key to saving the world. This is a common recipe for stories of that decade. King even sited that his inspirations were drawn for the TOWER series from what many did during that period: J.R.R. Tolkien for the sense of the journey to face an uncompromising enemy, Arthurian Legend to place the tools of hope in the hero’s hands, and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY for the mysterious protagonist in a world filled with mistrust and the continuous fight for survival.
The cast is unquestionably the perfect fit. Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, the last ‘gunslinger’ and a man broken after the loss of his father. The Gunslingers were guardians to the Dark Tower, but their numbers were thinned to one… him. The Dark Tower is said to protect this and other worlds from the encroaching ‘darkness’. The Man in Black, played by one of my favorites, THE Matthew McConaughey, is an inscrutable agent of the ‘darkness’, who’s a master of sorcery. He wants to destroy the tower and allow the darkness to consume everything. He knows that there is a child in the universe that has ‘pure shine’ and is scouring the various worlds to find him. The ‘innocent’ is Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor (of ‘Legends’, which is one series I recommend watching). He has enough spunk on his misunderstood and endearing role to pull it off and not disrupt the flow, a hard thing to do for most child actors, especially when they are the central character.
As a side-note, his mother is played by Katheryn Winnick, Lagertha of ‘Vikings’. She may not have a big part but she will always be my blinding star.
Director Nikolaj Arcel, better known in the industry for his writing, the largest title being THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO screenplay, does a decent job with this project. The movie is not bad. The dialogue works even with a premise that exercises your need to suspend reality on a higher level. The cinematography displays rich environments and embraces the right amount of uniqueness to keep you interested in the visual presentation. The acting, to include the minor characters, is not poorly handled. Overall, the worst thing that may happen is you get slightly bored for a bit.
So, THE DARK TOWER becomes more of a nostalgic watch and a chance to see Idris slinging bullets in creative ways. Oh, and Mattey simply telling people to stop breathing. And they do. Yeah, he is that bad ass. He did kinda sells the film for me, outside of Idris. Nothing like ‘almost’ rooting for the bad guy.