Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley
Runtime: 95 min
Another adaptation from a Stephen King's book and this time it's a big one. The Dark Tower tells the story of a gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who has been protecting a tower that holds the universe together, from the Man in Black, also known as Walter O'Dim (Matthew McConaughey).
With every world's fate at stake, a final battle between good and evil starts, as Roland tries to defend the tower one last time.
I didn't read any of King's novels. Honestly, I'm not a reader at all, so this review is coming from someone that doesn't really know or care about what's on the books unless it's perfectly clear that the film is negatively affected by something related to its source material ... Unfortunately, this is the case.
I can't be the guy that starts annoying people around saying, "Oh, in the book it isn't like this ... oh, this scene/character/subplot isn't in the book ... book, book, book". I really can't be that guy since I don't read them, but there's something that this movie clearly lacks and that's depth to its own world.
Nevertheless, I'll start with my pros. My major praise goes to the chemistry between Idris Elba and Tom Taylor (Jake). Their characters cross paths at the end of the first act and from that moment on, every single scene with them has something to deliver to the audience. There are some very compelling and emotional scenes, as well as some surprisingly funny bits here and there. For me, this is what keeps the film going, without ever feeling monotonous or boring.
Elba is a true badass as Roland and I think he's one of the best action/thriller's actors working today. This character has a deep and tragic backstory that makes us care for him, so when the action goes down the movie elevates itself due to its protagonist. Taylor is truly amazing asJake, who also has a heartfelt and captivating story going on with his family and with himself since he's no ordinary boy. The young actor proves himself through an excellent job portraying a multiple-layered character with tons of emotions.
The film's concept is pretty interesting and the universe where the screenplay takes place is very intriguing, which actually improved the first act's quality. The action sequences are well-filmed due to some cool scenes with slow-motion and good stunt work, but they're never something more than one would expect.
Matthew McConaughey is great as the Man in Black and if it wasn't for him, I think that this villain could have been a huge problem. Walter is the cliche bad guy, who wants to rule the universe because he desires power and control. He has no unique motivations and I feel nothing towards him since I have no reason to love him or hate him.
Going back to my first couple of paragraphs, I can't help but feel that something is missing. A lot of details from the overall story are omitted for sure because some parts of it just seem inexplicable or unexplored, which even makes some of the movie's logic fall apart. I know for a fact that this isn't an adaptation of just one book but from several instead, so I'm pretty sure that a lot of the missing information is lost somewhere in the books due to the director and writers' questionable choices.
This leads to a lack of plot's depth since there's so much left to explore by the end of the film. Once again, the studios focused on instantly building a franchise without first working on making a good movie and only then start developing a saga. There's so much mystery surrounding this new world, but the only "answers" that I get come from expositional dialogue, something excessively present in this film.
The plot is as conventional as it can be and that kind of ruins the whole movie. There's never an incredibly suspenseful moment since the screenplay follows every cliche that ever existed. The ending feels abrupt and the supposedly awesome, tension-full last battle between good and evil, falls flat.
I think part of the script's problem is definitely the film's runtime. For an adaptation this big, 95min is so short that I find hard to believe that no one realized that this wasn't going to work. If you're a fan of King's novels, I'm pretty sure you're going to feel disappointed, at least. If not, then you'll just find this movie "ok". It's nothing that you haven't seen before, but it can just entertain for an hour and a half.
All in all, The Dark Tower has an interesting concept and a mysterious universe open to exploring. The cast is great, especially Idris Elba and Tom Taylor, who have amazing chemistry. Their well-developed characters share most of the film's best scenes, from the action sequences to the funniest moments. However, the huge lack of depth to the story, an extremely conventional plot, a very cliche villain, a lot of expositional dialogue and a surprisingly short runtime bring the movie down to the floor, but they still leave it just breathing.