For years fans of “The Dark Tower”, a series of novels created by Stephen King, have been waiting patiently for a movie adaption to finally hit the big screen. The idea for the film had been circling around Hollywood for quite some time now but didn’t really begin to pick up speed until Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey signed on to play the two main roles. “The Dark Tower” series centers around the last of the gunslingers, a man named Roland played by Idris Elba, who is locked in a constant battle with Matthew McConaughey’s character called the Man in Black. Determined to destroy the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together, the Man in Black battles Roland and a powerful young boy whose visions could be the key to finally ending a long running war. With 8 books of material and a stellar cast, the film adaption of The Dark Tower resulted in a massively disappointing snooze fest.
I am someone who adores Stephen King’s creative stories. His distinct writing style and versatility has led to some iconic stories. Some personal favorites of mine are “The Shining” and “Stand by Me” which are both are vastly different. “The Dark Tower” is another series of his that is wildly different from most of his previous works. With a huge source of material to work with and an immersive storyline, filmmakers really shouldn’t have had much trouble crafting a great movie. The biggest disappointment is the very weak 95-minute runtime which prevented any real development from taking place. There’s very little exploration of Mid World, the alternate universe where most of this story is supposed to take place, despite the fact that it was heavily set up by dreams of the young boy Jake Chambers. In his dreams, you get a sense that the Mid World and the Dark Tower are very important pieces to the film’s further plot points. Unfortunately, the Mid World was barely explored and when it was, it was done around a campfire with heavy exposition.
The creators behind this movie seem to have made the assumption that the audience members had prior knowledge of all of the series of novels. Throughout the film, it was never made clear exactly why the Man in Black wanted to destroy the Dark Tower. It’s said a few times that his intention is to start a multi-universe apocalypse but neither he nor his henchmen seems to care why. It’s also never fully made clear what the Dark Tower stood for besides somehow keeping surrounding worlds together. There are just way too many times where the writers adopted a “just go with it” attitude instead of giving any real explanation or background to the characters or storyline.
McConaughey and Elba have special abilities that make them unique to the Mid World. In all the trailers shown before the release of this movie, it became clear that each one would try and outsmart the other. With McConaughey’s mind-controlling power and Elba’s gun wielding skills, it seemed that we would be in for an epic showdown between two cool characters. In reality, very few scenes really showcased their powers and the two actors failed to create the ‘mortal enemy’ vibe that was promised in the trailers. It isn’t until the end of the film that we see them duel it out and use their abilities for anything other than brief flashy sequences. After waiting the whole movie for an actual confrontation between the two, they simply could not generate enough excitement to keep me interested in the outcome.
Tom Taylor, who plays the young Jake Chambers was the stand out in the film. His character is able to see into the events happening in Mid World through psychic dreams which lead him to Roland. Jake must learn to balance his curiosity in learning more about Mid World and its history while also working alongside Roland to defeat the Man in Black and save both of their worlds. Although I find Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba to both be exceptionally talented actors, I found their performances very average in these roles. None of their scenes stood out as groundbreaking or applause worthy and Elba seemed particularly disinterested in his role. The only thing that stood out for Matthew McConaughey was his awful hair.
With such a rich history behind this series of novels, The Dark Tower lacked many of the crucial elements to make it a faithful adaption. The Dark Tower failed to provide backstory for its characters and plots which ultimately led to a confusing disappointment. Currently, there is talk that the story may be adapted into a television series which would provide it more runtime to expand its characters and storyline. With so many books, that may be the smartest move to provide fans with the well-developed story they were hoping for.
Want to see The Dark Tower and judge for yourself? Click on the images below to buy your tickets now, and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought!
Kidnap runs 1 hour 35 minutes, and is rated PG-13 for thematic material including sequence of gun violence and action.