I know, this title is quite controversial. Ever since The Dark Tower has been released, it has been universally panned by critics and book fans alike. Do not get me wrong, I am not going to claim that The Dark Tower is the best thing since the invention of sliced bread. Also, before reading this post, know that I never read the books. Yes, I get why book fans are angry. The movie is not an adaptation of the book, but mainly it is inspired by it. I went to see it over the weekend and wanted to share my thoughts.
The Dark Tower Story
While the books mainly follow Roland the Gunslinger, the movie is focused on Jake and his visions about a man in black and a tower that is under attack. He also dreams about a mysterious gun-slinger. When his mother and stepfather choose to send him to an asylum to get therapy for his weird visions, Jake escapes as he recognises the people with stitched-on skin who are coming to get him, from his dreams. He finds a portal that sends him to Mid-World where he meets Roland, the gunslinger from his dreams. Together they go on a search to find the Man in Black and stop his attacks on the tower. But they are not aware that the Man in Black is looking for them too.
What the critics say
Here’s a couple of quotes from critics, as found on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie currently has a 16% critics rating, while 54% of the audience liked it.
“Outside of its actors, the film is unremarkable. Action sequences seem as though they were hurried, that is, when you can actually see them – Did the lighting team blow a fuse?”“Inconsistent, incoherent and often cheesy.”“Unfortunately, this adaptation fails on almost every conceivable level, whether it’s from a fan’s perspective or a newbie’s.”
Why it’s not that bad
Alright, hear me out on this one. I am very much aware that a lot of people, especially those who love the books were not pleased. I read what the Dark Tower series is actually about and I can imagine that it is not cool to look forward to something for nearly a decade, then not have it live up to expectations. And sure, for as far as Fantasy films go, this one is not the best there is. But despite its occasional cheesiness and predictability, it was actually quite fun.
One thing I enjoyed about the this movie was that it was very fast paced. No lingering on endless explanations or world-building taking up half of the run-time. The plot was clear and the action was plenty. Apart from that, there were some genuinely funny moments that had me giggling. There wasn’t a single moment where I was bored or wishing for it to be over.
I guess I might not have been this positive about the movie if it weren’t for the fantastic actors. Idris Elba is phenomenal. There were people out there who could not stomach the idea of Idris playing Roland, because in the novel he is white. Oh shocker. What will happen next? Will they cast a black Hermione in a play based on Harry Potter? Oh wait.
Sometimes you find an actor that is perfect for a role despite not living up to how the character was described in the source material. Spoiler alert, he is just really good at what he does.
Another actor who definitely makes the movie worth watching is Matthew McConaughey. In the early 2000s, he was mainly known for his roles in romantic comedies. He surely has evolved a lot. While McConaughey is not your typical buffed up bad guy, he manages to be creepy enough to not want to encounter him. And sure, the final showdown between his and Idris’ character was a bit anti-climatic, they both still did a brilliant job.
While The Dark Tower sports the same rating on Rotten Tomatoes as the remake of the Mummy does, those two cannot be compared. Yes, both are movies which attempt to set up for sequels, but The Dark Tower is not nearly as empty and messy as the latter. Just a little cheesy at times and yes, quite predictable. But that does not necessarily make for a bad movie.
So unless you are a fanatic fan of the books, I don’t see why you should not give this movie a chance.