The Dark Tower – A film review

The Dark Tower is a film adaptation of a series of books by Stephen King. King is a master of horror and science fiction, many of his works have been adapted successfully and I am not sure if this has. The problem is that I have not read the source material so I am judging it all on the film presented here.

The premise is interesting to say the least, there is a tower that controls reality in the universe. For millennia it has been safe until now a wizard, the Man in Black takes children with special powers to destroy it and begin an apocalypse. Out to stop him is the last Gunslinger on a mission of vengeance ad a powerfully talented child of New York.

The film plays with some standard sci fi tropes, including multiple realties, strange creatures wearing human skin, portals and psychic children, it fails to weave these into a successful narrative. The foot soldiers of the Man in Black are not fleshed out much and so do not feel menacing. The Man in Black, played by Matthew McConnaghy definitely was menacing and whilst he devoured every scene we got no sense of his motivations, we knew he killed people and he wanted to destroy the tower but the why was more elusive.

Idris Elba was good as the gunslinger but he was given few lines, possibly true to the character but it meant that our lead, the young Jacob has no one, an us, to explain what is going on. This is fine in a book where descriptive narrative can carry the weight but in a film we need to see and hear it. We did get some exposition from the village they visit but key elements about exactly what the Shine is and why its important to safe the tower is left barely touched.

I enjoyed the action sequences and the acting was good. The final fight between the Man in Black and the Gunslinger was excellent, it was building throughout the film and was a great set piece.

The film left me wanting to know more about the fascinating world that King has created but I do not want to get the information in a sequel, I would rather stick to the raw talent of King and read the books. Overall its an entertaining watch but tries to pack to much in without doing the ground work.

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