A young boy travels to another world to help a disillusioned gunslinger
save the universe from a powerful sorcerer plotting to destroy it.
The Dark Tower (2017)
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
Written by Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner,
Anders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel
Starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor,
Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbey Lee,
Fran Kranz, Claudia Kim, Nicholas Hamilton
Based on the book series by Stephen King
The Dark Tower has always been Stephen King's most ambitious and elaborate story, spanning eight books, a host of short stories, and several decades of work. It is only fair that a film adaptation put just as much effort into its version as King himself did with his. When it was announced that after years in development hell, Sony was finally going to produce a movie, fans rejoiced. The casting of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as the leads showed that the caliber of actors would be high. But then, the trailer and first reactions to the script showed fans that not only was Sony not taking this seriously, they almost seemed to intentionally be sabotaging it by ignoring the series' vast mythology and overall tone of heavy violence and drama.
The film's story puts the focus on Jake Chambers, the young boy whom Roland takes under his wing in the first and third books. By making Jake the protagonist, the film distances itself from the much more interesting character of Roland, played magnificently by Idris Elba in a role that some doubted he could pull off. His motivations, however, are vastly different from the Roland in the story, as is his inclination for violence. Roland has no interest in protecting the Tower, which undermines his character's entire journey and spits in the face of every person who has enjoyed the book. McConaughey's hammy and non-threatening portrayal of the Man in Black goes a long way towards ruining the rep of one of King's strongest villains. The filmmakers try so hard to avoid the story, that the movie barely as leg to stand on.
Remarkably, the film itself turned out to not be half-bad, considering everything that was taken out of it. For moviegoers unfamiliar with the story, it will be entertaining and maybe even decent. But for longtime fans like me, The Dark Tower will undeniably be one of the biggest disappointments of the year and set the bar low for King adaptations in the future. The inclusion of various King Easter eggs is a nice touch, but a careful approach to adapting a vast and celebrated story would have been even nicer.