The Dark Tower: Average, for the most part
Elba is outstanding in his portrayal of the brooding and intense Roland Deschain, but the story’s constant action does not match up to the man’s brilliance
If The Dark Tower were to be judged by the acting prowess of Idris Elba alone, it would have made for a terrific film. Unfortunately, though, there is the small matter of plot to contend with. The first twenty-five minutes have immense potential, with the audience wondering what will come of the eleven-year-old Jake’s (Tom Taylor) visions and dreams of a parallel world (where a man in black attempts to destroy a certain “tower” to let darkness reign). As his dreams get more and more unsettling, he envisions a gunslinger-type individual who pursues the man in black. Jake’s interpretation of this new world is seen through his many sketches. The psychiatrist believes that all his dreams and drawings are ways of coming to terms with his father’s demise.
Elba’s role of Roland Deschain, the post-apocalyptic gunslinger/cowboy, is indeed intense and captivating, but it is the story that lets him down. Roland’s brooding manner in The Dark Tower is reminiscent of another classic Elba character in DCI John Luther; both individuals wrestle with their own demons in order to uphold what little good there is left in the world.
Director – Nikolaj Arcel
Cast – Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley
It is only when Jake makes it to the house in his visions, and enters the parallel world, that the film begins its descent. It is sci-fi, no doubt, but the piling on of action sequences and locales, leaves you bored and disinterested soon enough. I was more intrigued by the personal narratives of Roland and Jake. Their loneliness and guilt start to run parallelly after the halfway mark, and though it forms a part of the plot, the unrelenting fight scenes dilute their impressive performances. Roland is constantly reminded that he is the last gunslinger around (being the only one who Walter, the man in black, cannot seem to harm with his sorcery), but the gnawing guilt of not being able to save his father makes him lose his idealism and embrace vengeance. Jake, on the other hand, is unable to cope with his mother’s death at the hands of Walter.
The story is a classic case of light versus dark, good versus evil, typical of Stephen King’s themes. However, it is the jumping from one gun-toting scene to another that squeezes the life out of the good parts of The Dark Tower. Idris Elba and Tom Taylor do no harm to their reputations in this latest adaptation of a King novel. Sadly, everything else is a drag. By the looks of it, there will be a sequel (maybe more), as there are multiple books in the series. Let’s hope that the proposed film(s) learns from some of the pitfalls of this one so that the creators can come up with a superior attempt that makes the author proud.