The hugely popular Stephen King books and comics gets the big screen treatment and you sit and wonder why they bothered. The Man in Black, not Johnny Cash which was disappointing, but Matthew McConaughey, wants to destroy the Dark Tower so that darkness and fire can reign in the universe. The mind of a child is the weapon that he needs but only one child is strong enough to do this and the Gunslinger, Idris Elba, has found this kid first.
Stephen King adaptations are one end of the scale or the other, there really is no mid point to the level that they reach. I am a bigger fan of the earlier books and didn’t even bother to attempt to read this series, so I cannot base this adaptation review on anything but the film in front of me. At that I can say that at the end of the 90 odd minutes of the film I thought I was watching a trailer for a mini series. Maybe then that is the problem there is too much story here to be captured in a 90 minute film. Is that the problem? Or do the film makers seriously think that something that takes books and books and comics can be wrapped up in a small package. Look at Peter Jackson who made the same amount of film from 3 books that he did for one book. I think Mr. King, who has frightened me more times during my life than any other author, deserves to have the same treatment.
If you don’t know the story there is not enough room here for me to explain what they try to get around to making out the story is about. Basically it’s a tower that evil wants to destroy, a kid can do it, Man in Black is bad, Elba is good, both performances are meh. I spent more time looking at all the Easter Eggs in the background than paying attention to the story, such as it is, and that in itself bothered me to tears. I don’t mind Easter Eggs, they are great in small doses, as your friends who obsess about that stuff will take glee in pointing them out when you’re having a movie night. Here you have to point out the plot of this movie whenever it happens.
The Man in Black is too powerful to be scary, like how when Superman shows up in a film you know things are going to be sorted, and Elba’s character is not developed enough to be effective either. The kid Jake played by Tom Taylor gives probably the best of the bad bunch of performances as the emotionally scarred child trying to get over the death of his Father.
What makes this a bad film is that it feels that it could have been a masterful adventure that we’re all going to run out and watch. It feels as though they cut the best bits of the film out. Remember when the first Harry Potter film came out and was awesome and then there was an avalanche of terrible kids movies that didn’t come close to the quality but had that potential? That’s what is going on here. It could have been the best film of the summer, but instead it gets a two, leaves numerous reviewers confused, and left me filling in the gaps that should have been put in. I’m hoping that the next Stephen King Adaptation, the new IT movie, will prove the good end of the scale to balance out this one. Maybe, just a thought, that before Mr. King signs over the movie rights to his next project he should, in one case, take a leaf out of the book of J.K. Rowling and insist on creative input to the film project. I think it’s time that the good books became good movies.
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, & more
Stars: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor & more