I'd consider myself a Stephen King fan. He's written a countless number of my favourite books and short stories, many of which have been adapted to varying degrees of quality, but between all his scares, freights and nightmares, one book series of his I've never gotten around to was that of The Dark Tower. It's always been on my list. I've been curious about it for many years now. But it was never meant to be. I didn't go into this film with any sort of predetermined expectations, because the source material doesn't really mean much to me, but I tried to have hope. The books have so much love and admiration that failing to adapt it seems practically impossible, yet this is a story that makes the impossible possible.
While many fans have been patiently waiting for a loyal adaptation of the beloved book series, The Dark Tower movie takes a different route. It continues the story beyond the page and brings a new conclusion to these character's arcs. It's a subversion of expectations, allowing for a brand new story to engross book readers and an easy jumping on point for new viewers. Or at least that's what it should've been. If you haven't read the books, don't even bother showing up. The saying "made for the fans" is an overused excuse for Hollywood celebrities to try and convince audiences that their poorly reviewed movie is still worth buying a ticket to. With The Dark Tower, it's true. This was well and truly made solely for the fans.
You're thrown right into the story with little context as to why, but this intrigue does work for a small period of time. We begin by following the Earth-bound adventures of Jake, and his strange visions create a painting of the bigger picture. Once the film makes its transition to the fantasy realm, it takes a serious halt. We're introduced to Idris Elba's Roland, but we just don't care. He's a nobody with unclear motives and a muddled past. Elba is perfect for the role, always oozing with cool and charisma, but you don't know enough about him to connect. Everyone he encounters describes him as a master with a gun, but you never witness him at his full potential. We first meet him at a low point in his life, but without having any prior knowledge of the character, he’s just a moody guy.
A lot of The Dark Tower is genuinely interesting. It's scattered with great concepts and little moments, particularly during the bonding scenes between Jake and Roland, but nothing flows. An hour into the movie and we still hadn't finished the set up. The cast is great, but the film they're in feels like a massive missed opportunity. From what I hear, the source material is rich in mythology. There's plenty they could've drawn from, but failed to do. I guess we'll have to wait for the TV show next year to see if King's novels can finally get the big screen justice they deserve.
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