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The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is a 2017 fantasy-science fiction film based on the Stephen King Dark Tower novels. The film is directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, known more as a screenwriter than a director. The movie stars Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar and The Wolf of Wall Street), and Idris Elba (Star Trek Beyond, Pacific Rim, and Prometheus).

The movie is rated PG-13. Click here for a detailed examination of the film’s rating.

Tom Taylor, appearing in his first movie, plays Jake Chambers an eleven-year-old who sees visions of another world. These visions include an evil Man in Black seeking to destroy a dark tower and a stoic gunslinger fighting against him. Everyone dismisses these visions as bad dreams caused by the death of Jake’s father a year earlier.

I have several friends who’ve read the eight-book Dark Tower saga and enjoyed them, and others have described the novels as Stephen King’s magnum opus. I haven’t read the books so, this review is based largely on the movie.

If you see this film as I did, with little or no knowledge of the novels, you will probably leave thinking it provided ninety-five minutes of escapist entertainment. However, with Stephen King writing the novels and the acting depth of Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, I wanted more. Sony thought this movie would be the start of a franchise of films based on the novels. I’m sure they were reaching for an Oscar level production, but what I watched was only a decent fantasy-science fiction film.

Some scenes seemed like early drafts. They hinted at a bigger, grander story, that hadn’t yet been laid down in the script. But from what I’ve heard of the novels, that grander story is there for the taking. Danish director and co-writer Nikoliaj Arcel just didn’t take the depth and breadth that Stephen King had provided. Since watching the movie I’ve heard that a number of scenes had to be rewritten and reshot, some multiple times. Had this sucked some of the life out of King’s story?

I left the theater thinking I had seen a decent movie that, with the right director and script, could have been great. I’m going to recommend you Wait and Rent The Dark Tower.