Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Set in the current time but across different dimensions, The Dark Tower tells the story of young Jake (Tom Taylor) who has dreams of another world and a Dark Tower that preserves the worlds it overlooks. Unfortunately he also sees “The Man in Black” (Matthew McConaughey) who seeks to destroy the tower and wreak havoc upon those worlds it protects. More fortunately for Jake is that he sees “The Gunslinger” (Idris Elba), protector of the tower and a man seeking revenge upon the man in black for the death of his Father. In the real world Jake isn’t taken too seriously, so much so that he is about to be taken away to a psychiatric facility to try to help with his delusions but Jake has other ideas. He escapes to the other world and his adventure begins.
There’s a good mix in terms of the cast. Idris Elba stands firm as the gunslinger as he battles with his demons and the unrelenting determination to avenge his Father’s death. Initially a quite cold character, particularly towards Jake but this warms as time moves on and a more paternal persona emerges. Tom Taylor is likeable enough as the vision ridden Jake and I think the measure of any younger actor is that if they don’t grate on you they’re doing well and he didn’t grate on me. There a very slimy and evil turn from the well chiselled Matthew McConaughey as the man in black. He plays that role that every talented actor once to do at least once, the crazed and devilish bad guy and he was obviously enjoying his work here. Possibly not a role he will be hugely remembered for against titles on his already impressive CV. Vikings’ Katheryn Winnick makes a welcome if brief appearance as Jake’s mother and there’s an understated role for Jackie Earl Haley too.
I think the tone of the film was lightened a little to ensure a 12 certificate in the UK and whilst the film did carry some dark overtones I feel the film suffered because of the need to reach a wider audience. That said, the film is too bad. Taken from Stephen King work it’s a fairly good crack at a “good versus evil” tale and offers misunderstood and troubled characters the film wants to tell you about. It’s a little bit thin on the running time though and doesn’t really explore the characters in any great depth but there may be more with come in the stories to that will follow. There’s some bright and panoramic views on show and a cracking stand-off between the Gunslinger and The Man in Black during the climax but then there’s a little bit of a cheesy science fiction ending that follows which is a bit frustrating. The kind of ending you’d expect in a time travel episode of Family Guy. The Dark Tower isn’t great by any means but it’s a decent bit of Sunday afternoon sci-fi to pass ninety minutes. I’d hoped for a more grandiose spectacle but it wasn’t disappointing.
The verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Not quite towering above the rest