The Dark Tower (2017)

Posted August 6, 2017 by Mrs Giggles in 2 Oogies, Film Reviews, Genre: Action & Adventure / 5 Comments

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The Dark Tower (2017)
The Dark Tower (2017)

Main cast: Idris Elba (Roland Deschain), Tom Taylor (Jake Chambers), Katheryn Winnick (Laurie Chambers), Dennis Haysbert (Steven), Claudia Kim (Arra), Fran Kranz (Pimli), Abbey Lee Kershaw (Tirana), Jackie Earle Haley (Sayre), Michael Barbieri (Timmy), José Zúñiga (Dr Hotchkiss), Alex McGregor (Susan Delgado), Nicholas Hamilton (Lucas Hanson), and Matthew McConaughey (Walter Padick)
Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Nowadays, movie studios aren’t content with just a successful big screen franchise – they also want a multi-platform franchise spanning television and big screen as well as toys and books and comics and what not. And, of course, the whole thing is planned even before the first movie hits the screen. The Dark Tower is another of Sony Picture’s increasingly desperate desire to have its own Marvel Cinematic Universe, only to instead become one more entry in Sony Picture’s embarrassing track record. The corpse of the dead-on-arrival non-franchise starter Ghostbusters has barely cooled and they… seriously, Stephen King’s works? Have many more bad movie adaptations of that man’s works do we need?

This one, by the way, gets rid of the more complex concepts and intricacies in the source material, which is understandable as the author’s books are not exactly easy to translate faithfully onto both big and small screens. Some glimmers of brilliance still remain here: a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting that incorporates many of the modern-day Earth elements that we know, in a more fantastical context. But everything here is so poorly developed and expounded on, it’d be hard to get the whole big picture of the story unless one also watches the TV series in the works that would plug in the back story. Perhaps that is the point?

So, in the context of this movie, there are many different worlds out there, all connected by this Dark Tower thing that is constructed to prevent demons from assaulting these worlds. On our world, we have Jake Chambers – played by one of the flattest child actors with the most annoying mug I’ve come across in a while – who is haunted by dreams of what seems like a dark tower, a scary man in black, and a gunslinger. His stepfather would love to be rid of him, while his mother doesn’t know what to make of him, so they decide to send him to a special school for, uh, special kids like him. Jake realizes that the ‘school’ is run by the same skinless creatures he sees in his dreams, runs away, finds a magical portal (don’t ask), and ends up in Mid-World. He encounters Roland, the last of the Gunslingers, and spends the bulk of the movie being in trouble and needing rescue even as everyone praises this useless baggage for having super special skills. Ugh.

Idris Elba is pretty good in playing an admittedly stereotypical stoic action hero while Matthew McConaughey is appropriately sleazy and despicable in his role, but the Gunslinger is actually a secondary character here – he’s more of the irritating Jake’s babysitter and sidekick – while Walter is a lame villain. And Tom Taylor… oh god, maybe he’d take the money from this role and go to school or somewhere else far, far away from screens both big and small.

There aren’t many good action scenes here, just some unintentionally hilarious gun-fu scenes that feel more like a parody of The Matrix than anything else. Not much humor or drama either. But then again, the entire movie is just a 90-something minute trailer for future sequels, TV series, comics, books, and more. Should such a practice be encouraged? Sic it to the man by watching this on rental or streaming, and let’s hope Idris Elba finds a good agent that would break his streak of horrible main roles and forgettable secondary ones.

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Loves boys that sparkle, unicorns, money, Lego, chocolates, tasty buffets, video game music, and fantastical stories.

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5 responses to “The Dark Tower (2017)

  1. amousie

    It’s been forever and day since I read the original Gunslinger. Seems to me that was a very short story (for a King “novel”) I don’t remember half the stuff you talk about as being in that particular book, although we do learn more of Jake’s backstory in book 3. Mostly I remember Jake and Roland under the mountain and Roland letting Jake fall.

    I really don’t know how you’d adapter the Dark Tower series. And I particularly hated the ending of that series, especially since it took a couple of decades to complete. I partially understood it since King had almost died in that hit-n-run. Still a major let-down for me.

    I suspect that it would be easier to adapt the graphic novels (haven’t read them) based in that world rather than the novels. It seems to me that his short stories are the ones that have worked the best. Either that or you’d need HBO to do it but then the sex scenes for “perverts” requirement would need to be made up. Well, I think there was one in book 3. (I know I’m not getting the pervert comment from GoT producer right but I’m too lazy to look it up.)

    Anyway, thanks for taking one for the team.

  2. This is actually marketed as a sequel, although you would know, after reading the last book, that the distinction between “based on” and “a sequel of” is almost meaningless when it comes to this series. This movie is a very simplified, even dumbed down “adaptation” to the point that it is actually a young adult fantasy movie with Jake as the actual protagonist. But I doubt fans of young adult fantasy flicks will take to the darker, brutal moments in this movie. All in all, it’s a muddled adaptation.

    But hey, they are putting out new graphic novels (or so I hear), along with developing a prequel TV series featuring the same main cast, and sequels! Although given how much this movie is underperforming at the moment, I don’t know how many of those plans will carry forward.

  3. amousie

    Jake is the protag?!?!?! Seriously family blog that shit. So I’m guessing Roland doesn’t let Jake fall. That the lobtrosities of book 2 opening will never happen. Now I’m not even remotely interested in seeing it even as a library dvd. This story doesn’t belong in a young adult movie or even a young adult tv show** Especially considering what happens to Jake. Heck, movie audiences couldn’t take the book ending of the Golden Compass.

    **unless you go to book 4 and make it about Roland’s backstory. I’d see that adaptation. But again I’d be saying HBO, HBO, HBO. Not because they are so great but they have the money and fewer restrictions to at least make the attempt worthwhile. Plus I believe some of the stories of Roland’s youth are graphic novels so the scriptwriters could make up their own stories as they go along.

    Speaking of HBO, if you get a chance watch Season 1 of True Detectives. McConaughey and Harrelson do a nice job in that anthology. Yep, they are both rather sleazy too.

  4. My place don’t subscribe to cable anymore, but I’ll see if True Detectives is available in the Malaysian Netflix and, knock on wood, isn’t some heavily censored version.


    Given that this movie is supposed to be a sequel – taking place after the books – it is possible that they won’t turn Jake into road pancake after all. This time Roland may be able to prevent Jake from dying. Anyway, moot point. The movie tanks, so I doubt there would be as many sequels as they originally planned. Books, comics, and TV are doable as they are usually cheaper, but I think the movie franchise is done.

  5. amousie

    I only do US Netflix and was gifted an Amazon Prime so I understand completely. I caught TD Season 1 on library dvds. Season 2 I only watched an episode and half before quitting. Different characters, different locale. Not my jam. TD season 1 is free on US Amazon Prime.

    If your Netflix has Stranger Things, let me know what you think of it. I found it to be very much a throwback to the time period. General thoughts, no spoilers: Well done with all kinds of possibilities for Season 2. Not mind blowing but a nice binge watch over a week. I’d watch more to see where they take it.

    And since I’d just watched Worricker Trilogy, I found Wynona Ryder’s different characters quite interesting. Of course, every time Ms. Ryder came on the screen, I kept trying to remember who originally played that version of “mom” back in the eighties. Never did come up with it.

    Spoiler for DT:
    Jake: I had tears in my tears even though King foreshadowed it with a very very heavy hand. And sequel, mequel: Jake ends up in a better universe so him wanting to come back to Roland is rather asinine for the movie version. It deserves to tank based on what you’re saying of the story.

    Later. Thanks!

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