Stephen King is having somewhat of a big-screen revival at the moment. We have a forthcoming remake of IT, which is already generating a lot of buzz, and now the troubled and long gestating The Dark Tower, finally makes it to the silver screen.
The Dark Tower concerns a troubled teen, Tom Taylor (Doctor Foster, The Last Kingdom), who is having visions about another world.
Whilst his parents don’t believe him, it transpires that the world Tom is seeing is just one of many. This one has Walter, aka Man in Black Matthew McConaughey (Kubo and the Two Strings, Free State of Jones), doing battle against his old, gun-slinging adversary Roland, Idris Elba (Prometheus, The Jungle Book).
Walter is trying to bring down The Dark Tower which sits at the centre of our worlds and stops the bad-things getting in. Roland, and the rest of the gun-slingers, who Walter has dispatched with his powers, are there to protect the Tower from falling.
When Tom discovers a portal to enter into the world of Roland and Walter, he sets off a battle between the two that has been brewing for some time.
You see, it transpires that Tom has a powerful ‘shine’. This means he’s telepathic for one, but he doesn’t know he has this power and when he finds out he’s told not to use it as Walter can track him.
Still with me? Some of you will be beginning to see the problems already. The Dark Tower is a short film by modern standards, coming in at just over 1.5 hours.
However, whilst it starts out promising, it is a slow burn, a really slow burn. Points are laboured, dialogue is slow and action is sparse.
Despite this, it leaves you with more questions than it should: who built the tower? Have they been to the other worlds? Why, if Walter seems to be able to do anything, can he not protect himself from everything? Why would a gun-slinger not try out some new guns when he makes it to Earth?
Both McConaughey and Taylor seem to be drifting their way through the film. Neither are convincing, neither seem to be in the right roles.
Elba fares a little better but his story is given short-thrift and so he has no option but to race through it all. There are moments when you get a glimpse of Roland having a dry sense of humour, when this ‘fish-out-of-water’ might be somewhere to take the film. It never happens.
The man behind the camera, and one of four screenwriters, is Nikolaj Arcel, probably best known for writing the screen adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
His directing is ok but it lacks any kind of urgency or threat, it’s all a bit lifeless. Akiva Goldsman (Transformers: The Last Knight, Fringe (TV)), Jeff Pinker (The 5th Wave, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Anders Thomas Jensen (Men & Chicken, The Salvation) are the other writers.
What’s odd is, given the talent in the writing room, how they managed to miss the mark with The Dark Tower.
However much the studios want this to be the next money-making franchise (it’s currently being made into a TV series), on the basis of this film, there’s a long way to go before that happens.