Film review: The Dark Tower

I’m not much of a horror lit fan, so I don’t read much Stephen King, but now that I’ve seen The Dark Tower, that’s going to change.  I mean, it’s not as if he doesn’t write other stuff.

The movie is a bit difficult to lump into one particular genre: it’s sort of like High Noon, Lord of the Rings, Excalibur and Stargate all rolled into one; quite a feat considering it’s a shade over two hours long. Idris Elba plays Roland, the last of a band of gunslingers charged with protecting the Dark Tower, a rarely-seen edifice that stands at the centre of the universe and protects it from the evils that lie beyond. Matthew McConaughey plays Walter (yes, you read that right), the despicable and sharply-dressed sorcerer who wants to destroy the Dark Tower and so release untold horrors into the cosmos. Into this eternal struggle comes Jake, a boy with vast psychic powers, more than enough to destroy the Dark Tower, or save it.


Get the gist? Good; it’s not that different from a lot of things you’ve seen before, so it’s not so much the story as the way it’s told, and this film tells it brilliantly.

Elba and McConaughey play both their parts well: McConaughey playing a villain who murders and destroys with the same enjoyment and remorse as someone eating the lobster they picked from a tank a few minutes before; and Elba is just as great as the moody and revenge-bent Roland. Relative newcomer Tom Taylor play Jake, and like many of the young stars these days, he’s really bloody good. At one point I thought, “Kid, when your Mom sees that you were right all along about the demons crossing over to destroy all of reality, she’s gonna have some serious grovelling to do.” He does the “misunderstood child genius” thing very well.

What I like about the film is its compactness – if that’s a real word. Not a moment was wasted on sentiment, back story, odd romantic bits that have nothing to do with the plot… It just told the story with lots of action, suspense, bullets and brimstone. Mixing all those genres and ideas together into a coherent film could not have been easy, but they pulled it off.  It’s well worth seeing.

Ten out of ten, and I hope we’ll see more from The Dark Tower series.


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