The Dark Tower is not the disaster international critics would have you believe, but unfortunately it does occupy a rather grey area.
It suffers from what many modern blockbusters do – a lot of setup and not enough payoff. My feeling is that in focusing on a possible franchise, producers failed to invest enough time (and material) in the initial offering, which ultimately should be able to stand alone before leaping into several sequels.
This epic has some interesting, if not ‘new’, ideas which would be better served by a longer form of storytelling such as a TV series (which I believe is currently being developed – no doubt to fill the gaping Game of Thrones sized hole soon to be present in our TV schedules). There’s clearly lots to this world but none of it is truly explored physically or emotionally as I’m sure it is in the books.
Side note: I haven’t read the books.
Stephen King was into shared universes long before the current cinematic trend caught on and there are nods to his other work throughout, most recognisably The Shining (the book, not the film) and IT (no doubt to capitalise on the much-hyped pending release of the latter) but these serve as quaint asides for fans rather than offering anything meaningful to the plot.
The titular Dark Tower is the lynchpin holding the multiverse together – it’s function is keeping the demons out and good stuff in. That said, there are plenty of rat-faced evil folk already banging about the place and one such ne’er-do-well is ‘Walter’ (Matthew McConaughey) a miscast sorcerer whose charisma can’t convincingly bring his megalomaniacal schemes to life.
Anyway, evil-incarnate ‘Walter’ wants to destroy the Dark Tower using the minds of children blessed with “the Shine” and his search leads him to James (Tom Taylor), a young boy from our Earth, who is the shiniest bauble of all… The only thing standing between Walter and his prize is the ever-cool Idris Elba who plays Roland the last Gunslinger – a sort of grungy cowboy version of Sir Lancelot obsessed with revenge and slacking in his duty to defend the Dark Tower
Right off the bat this movie had a lot of obstacles to overcome but most notably is its genre: a sort of post-apocalyptic steampunk western but with wizards AND a contemporary component… not everyone’s cup of tea, also not the easiest thing to market – which you can tell looking at the poster.
I was intrigued by the film but never very invested. Sadly the impressive gunplay and magic scenes aren’t likely to keep a casual viewer’s interest held for too long – go check it out if you’re curious.
The Dark Tower is directed by Nikolaj Arcel, and opens 8 September in theaters.