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The Dark Tower Review

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I do not review with my hand. He who reviews with his hand has forgotten the face of his father…

Based on Stephen King’s bestselling series of books with the same title, The Dark Tower is the most recent science-fantasy movie seeking to establish a vast franchise. But does this nexus of genres have the ammo to compete against the likes of Marvel?

Let’s find out.

 

Story

 

Unlike with Valerian, I have read the first book of the Dark Tower series, and I might even do a book to movie comparison in the future. However, The Dark Tower movie is more an adaptation of the book series and universe as a whole rather than any one individually.

That being said, the story in the movie feels more like the pilot movie to TV series rather than the first of a movie franchise. It establishes the rules of the universe excellently. However, it also hints at a vast multiverse which we only see two planets of in the film. It also introduces the element of extra-dimensional demons yet there’s only ever a single fight against them. These, I feel, are the two largest missteps of the film.

Beyond that, the film provides hints at more to explore in either sequels or the planned TV series. It also ends with openings for more adventures without sequel begging. While at first glance, it might seem like there couldn’t be any greater threats after the climax, there are subtle clues to a much greater game at play. To catch these clues I suggest you look for red and wait till the end. It will make sense once you watch the film.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5 and a “Made For TV” sticker.

 

The Characters

 

As always, Idris Elba is absolutely fantastic. He plays the grizzled, trodden down gunslinger, Roland, with the gravitas yet humanizing depth that the role demands. He is a constant and gritty reminder of what will happen should he and Jake fail.

Speaking of Jake Chambers, he is the other central protagonist and our eyes into this strange new world. He is the one who asks the questions everyone in the audience is asking. Of course, this isn’t all he is. He actually plays an important part in defeating the Man in Black. It also hints that he may one day become just as cool as Roland. Unfortunately, the actor for the boy seems like he would be a much better voice actor than screen actor. His voice carries tons of emotion, but his actions and expressions are all a bit stiff.

On to our other big name actor, Matthew McConaughey. He plays the villain, the Man in Black, also known as…Walter. He does perhaps too good of a job as the villain. His presence really feel overwhelming and demonic, especially with his minions. This unfortunately means it really feels like they have killed the biggest bad by the end.

While the two big name actors do a great job acting, the side characters are passable at best. The minions can get away with it because they are evil, but everyone else feels a bit stiff.

Characters get a 4 out of 5, though for the opposite reasons that Valerian did.

 

Visuals

While not as visually stunning as Valerian, The Dark Tower is great to look at. Science fiction technology clashes with modern tech and Western elements in a wholly unique way. My only complaint for the visuals is that I wish we could have seen more worlds and their unique landscapes. The action choreography is also fantastic. There isn’t too much shaky cam and the angles they get are great.

Visuals get a 3.5 out of 5.

 

Final Score

 

While it does feel like the pilot to a TV series, it does stand decently on its own. It is not an instant franchise setter like Iron Man was, but it is a solid base.

A straightforward story with nice character dynamics. A sense of scope greater than most action blockbusters.

Definitely give it a watch if you have some free time.

Overall, I give The Dark Tower a 3.8 out of 5

I like big books and I cannot lie. I’ve been a fan of all things geek for as long as I can remember and I have a long list of things I need to check out that just gets longer as I get busier. Secretly a dragon.