Reel Shorts | The Dark Tower

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

Good and evil collide as a boy must pair up with a gunslinger to save the world from the plans of a mysterious man in black in The Dark Tower.

Jake Chambers (newcomer Tom Taylor) is not your normal kid. For the last year, when Jake sleeps, he dreams of another world where a mysterious man in black is trying to destroy his world by attacking a tall black obelisk in their land. Unfortunately, Jake learns that the tower provides the stability for not just the world in his dreams but his own world. The attacks on the tower resonate in massively destructive earthquakes on his world. Jake makes intricate drawings of his dreams and shares the information he has with his mother, step-father, and friends. Nobody believes him and Jake is subjected to meeting with a psychiatrist. When two of the monsters from his dreams appear at his door, Jake flees to find the Gunslinger (Idris Elba) of his dreams whose mission is to protect the world from the evil Man In Black (Matthew McConaughey). Using the information from his dreams, Jake finds a portal and transports himself to the world of the Gunslinger called Midworld.

The Dark Tower is the 95-minute film adaptation of the eight part book series by Stephen King. Let me just say that again. The Dark Tower is the 95-minute film adaptation of the eight part book series by Stephen King. The film in and of itself is fun. The fight scenes are well choreographed. Matthew McConaughey is deliciously evil as Walter O’Dim as he struts and purrs vile thought in the ears of people. Idris Elba is strong and commanding as Roland Deschain, the last of the gunslingers torn between revenge and his job of protecting the universes.

There is no soul. The problem is that the books have little reference in the actual movie. There is no understanding why the sorcery of Walter has no effect on Roland. There is no explanation of who the Crimson King is and why there are warnings about him tagged throughout the movie. The Dark Tower should have been a series of movies to rival Harry Potter and even Lord of the Rings. Instead, the movie has been relegated to a topical, cursory and pale reflection of the novels with a bunch of references that play like Easter eggs instead of communicating its true relevance to the Stephen King Universe.

Yes, the Dark Tower in the movie looks like Sauron from Lord of the Rings and it’s meant to. Yes, the term “the shine” in this movie has a reference to “The Shining.” It’s meant to. Yes, that’s Pennywise you see in the movie. It’s meant to be there. Those who have not read the Tower series can only speculate about their purpose while those who have read it are frustrated by what the movie could have been.

Rated PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action, The Dark Tower is a fun and engaging attempt at bringing the King property to life. Taken on its own, it’s an entertaining fantasy adventure especially if you haven’t read the series.

Grade: B-

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