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.

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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.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This one's from the extraordinary visual imagination of Luc Besson; you might remember him: the chap who brought us the brilliant Fifth Element many many years ago? So if nothing else, Valerian and the City of the Thousand Planets would be a treat for the eyes. And it was a treat for the eyes; unfortunately, it was pretty much nothing else.

Okay, in terms of scope, artwork, imagination and attention to detail, then this is something of a masterpiece, especially when you think that the movie was made outside of Hollywood. The scenery is breathtaking, the aliens are inspired (though some of them did look as if they'd been recycled from the Fifth Element). If that sort of thing floats your boat (it certainly floats mine) then it's well worth the rather drawn-out two hours and fifteen minutes you'll have to spare to sit through it. But in terms of storyline, script and performance then I'm afraid it misses its mark by a good light year.

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The main problem with the film is that while it was concentrating so hard on being the movie equivalent of a catwalk model, it sort of forgot what it was trying to be; it blended action scenes, bits of history with a rambling and uninspired love story.

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Dunkirk

This one was a bit of surprise for me. I love a good war epic, and that’s what I thought I was going to get with Dunkirk; instead I got something much better than most, though not on the scale I was expecting.  By focussing on just a small part of the beach, and a small number of key characters (and you couldn’t really point out a lead), Nolan has created a masterpiece of despair, desperation, courage and hope.

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Yes, it it is him.

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