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The Dark Tower – Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

MOVIE REVIEW – Stephen King is still to this day one of the most adapted authors – even if few of the movie adaptations were made into truly good movies. (Stanley Kubrick’s Shining is the prime example, of course.) The Dark Tower is, in fact, is a series of eight books, written by the author over the span of thirty years, so it was a difficult task to make the series justice…

 

So, what is The Dark Tower series? To better understand the film, you need to know a little bit about the books that the film is associated with. Stephen King is easily one of the best-known genre writers in the world. While King is known as a horror writer, having written classics like Carrie and The Shining, he’s more than that: he experiments with epic fantasy, horror, and science fiction. The Dark Tower, as a series, is a bit of a mash-up of all those genres, and it’s a series he considers his magnum opus.

He later explained in the foreword to the first novel of the series, The Gunslinger, that “The Dark Tower books, like most long fantasy tales written by men and women of my generation… were born out of Tolkien’s [Middle-earth].” He goes on to say that he read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, and that he wanted to write his own sort of epic, fantastical quest novel. But he didn’t want just to copy Tolkien. After seeing The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, he realized that he wanted something that encompassed more. “I realized that what I wanted to write was a novel that contained Tolkien’s sense of quest and magic, but set against Leone’s almost absurdly majestic Western backdrop.”

The Good, The Bad, and the Young Kid

Loosely following the first novel: The Gunslinger, the movie tells the story of Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, who must travel across a desolate landscape in search of the Dark Tower, the key to saving his universe — and every other universe. Doors between universes open up, causing young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) to leave New York and join the Gunslinger in his decaying magical world. Meanwhile, Roland’s nemesis – Walter o’Dim or the “Man in Black”, (Matthew McConaughey) — opposes them at every step.

Walter o’Dim wants to destroy this Dark Tower, which is in fact protecting our world from annihilation and the invasion of deamons on Earth. To that purpose he is using young kids in a strange device to try to shatter the Dark Tower. While Jake wants to stop him, Roland only wants to avenge his father’s death, which was caused by Walter in the past.

It’s hard to write more about the story without spoiling it, but as you can expect, there’s the same amount of epic fantasy, horror, and science fiction, as there is in the movie (or, if you didn’t read any of the books: as you can expect from author Stephen King.) Fortunately, there’s less of King’s usual clichés there, but you can still discover some motifs and ideas already used in classics like Terminator 2, John Woo action movies (the “gunslinging” aspect) or other science-fiction movies like Stargate.

We have again a master (Deschain) and apprentice (Chambers) which isn’t an original idea to say at the least, but we have seen worst cases of copying ideas, and the way this friendship builds up with rough-on-the-edge gunslinger from another world Deschain and Chambers, who is traumatized (by his dreams) but still enthusiastic is expertly done.

The Evil Within

While Idris Elba is still what you can expect from his acting range, Tom Taylor is pretty convincing as the young kid, who must flee from his home and enter this strange, exotic, Wild West-like world. Still, the true star of the movie is Matthew McConaughey, who is in fact once again at the peak of his acting as the frightening, smart and utterly cruel “Man in Black”: the evil mage, Walter o’Dim. Forget everything you learned about evil mages: Saruman or none of the evil wizards in any Harry Potter movies come to close to McConaughey’s cruelness, both thanks to his acts and the way the actor plays the character. McConaughey is top of his game, and he truly shines in The Dark Tower.

“Original” story, yet you have seen everything elsewhere

One key problem however with the movie, is that while the story is original, you have seen it all in sci-fi/fantasy action flicks from the eighties. Perhaps the truly original idea here is the titular Dark Tower, which protects our world from harm – while you would expect it some evil place from a Middle-earth movie. Shame, the whole Dark Tower idea isn’t developed and explained more, since as far as the scenario goes, it’s truly the most interesting aspect of the whole movie.

But I would lie if I would say, that I didn’t enjoy myself while watching The Dark Tower. I didn’t read the books, so no disappointment here whether it was faithful or not to the novels (according to the authors it is purposefully not). While it’s the whole story feels a bit phoned in from different places, and beside Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) and Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) none of the characters feel particularly interesting or well-acted, as a whole, The Dark Tower is an entertaining, interesting, pretty spectacular (no 3D here) and rather exciting sci-fi action-adventure. I truly hope that the TV show will happen as well.

-BadSector-

MOVIE REVIEW – Stephen King is still to this day one of the most adapted authors – even if few of the movie adaptations were made into truly good movies. (Stanley Kubrick’s Shining is the prime example, of course.) The Dark Tower is, in fact, is a series of eight books, written by the author over the span of thirty years, so it was a difficult task to make the series justice…   So, what is The Dark Tower series? To better understand the film, you need to know a little bit about the books that the film is associated…
One key problem however with the movie, is that while the story is original, you have seen it all in sci-fi/fantasy action flicks from the eighties. Perhaps the truly original idea here is the titular Dark Tower, which protects our world from harm – while you would expect it some evil place from a Middle-earth movie. Shame, the whole Dark Tower idea isn’t developed and explained more, since as far as the scenario goes, it’s truly the most interesting aspect of the whole movie. But I would lie if I would say, that I didn’t enjoy myself while watching The Dark Tower. I didn’t read the books, so no disappointment here whether it was faithful or not to the novels (according to the authors it is purposefully not). While it’s the whole story feels a bit phoned in from different places, and beside Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) and Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) none of the characters feel particularly interesting or well-acted, as a whole, The Dark Tower is an entertaining, interesting, pretty spectacular (no 3D here) and rather exciting sci-fi action-adventure. I truly hope that the TV show will happen as well.

The Dark Tower

Directing - 7.2
Acting - 8.3
Story - 7.8
Visuals/action - 8.2
Ambiance - 7.4

7.8

EXCELLENT

One key problem however with the movie, is that while the story is original, you have seen it all in sci-fi/fantasy action flicks from the eighties. Perhaps the truly original idea here is the titular Dark Tower, which protects our world from harm – while you would expect it some evil place from a Middle-earth movie. Shame, the whole Dark Tower idea isn’t developed and explained more, since as far as the scenario goes, it’s truly the most interesting aspect of the whole movie. But I would lie if I would say, that I didn’t enjoy myself while watching The Dark Tower. I didn’t read the books, so no disappointment here whether it was faithful or not to the novels (according to the authors it is purposefully not). While it’s the whole story feels a bit phoned in from different places, and beside Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) and Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) none of the characters feel particularly interesting or well-acted, as a whole, The Dark Tower is an entertaining, interesting, pretty spectacular (no 3D here) and rather exciting sci-fi action-adventure. I truly hope that the TV show will happen as well.

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