The Dark Tower

dark1Here’s something of a disclaimer: I have not read any of the Dark Tower series of books written by Stephen King, of which I understand there are several. I have no idea if this film is based on the first book, or is a rushed compendium of all of them, but I suspect it is the latter, as it would explain why the film races by in 95 minutes bereft of any weight or meaningful pause. This film is so rushed its unable to expand its characters beyond basic archetypes, it’s some kind of good vs evil saga, in which the bland battle against the bored.

There is clearly some kind of grand mythology at play, some kind of melting-pot of science fiction and fantasy that I guess can be found in the books, but it’s utterly AWOL here. Its confusing to people like me who are unfamiliar with the book saga and likely frustratingly simplistic to fans of that book series- perhaps like what condensing the Lord of the Rings trilogy into a single movie would be like- it just can’t work.

We have teleport stations to other worlds, demons attempting to invade our universe from some Outer Dark, a Dark Tower (I feel like asking Stephen King whether it should have been a White Tower, as its protecting the universe from Darkness but perhaps I’m being tetchy and its explained in the books) at the centre of the universe that thwarts them. Our bad guy Walter Paddick (Matthew McConaughey) is attempting to destroy the Dark Tower and our hero, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba, who between this and that Star Trek film should perhaps just give up on Hollywood), is the Gunslinger, who is trying to destroy Paddick before he succeeds. Its hardly mind-bogglingly imaginative stuff, and it’s not aided by having some kid who is (yawn) the Chosen One who Paddick can somehow use to power some weird laser cannon to finally destroy the Dark Tower and wreak the Apocalypse upon all creation. It really is that stupid. Maybe there was nuance and dramatic tension in the books, but there’s none of that here.

I suspect that this would have worked much better as a series on HBO or Netflix, across several seasons. Why exactly anyone thought this would satisfy as such an empty, thrilless, joyless movie is beyond me, the irony of the ending teasing further adventures just another example of Hollywood thinking absolutely anything can be a franchise. I am getting so pissed off with the films that don’t just end (ta da! ‘THE END’ like films used to), instead closing with a tease for something that will never happen- it’s just insulting to the audience and anyone who has invested any time watching it.

4 thoughts on “The Dark Tower

  1. Matthew Mckinnon

    Amazon is making a series of this, now. I think the reaction to this film (extreme disappointment) from fans of the books actually convinced them there’s still a market for it.

    Idris Elba is someone who is consistently disappointing to me. I never watched The Wire or Luther, so all I’ve seen is his later work which has been pretty poor. With the exception of Beasts of No Nation, which was excellent. I don’t really know what the fuss is about.

    1. Well that’s certainly interesting, I would imagine its a much better fit as a series. Its curious though that they see no issue with going to a series adaptation so soon after a film version tanked.

      Elba was very, very good in The Wire (you never saw the Wire? Its one of the best shows ever made) but over the years he’s just fallen into the same pattern/performance, partly because that’s what producers/directors likely want (casting is so lazy/cynical nowadays). Which is a shame, he’s better than that (or used to be). But I guess he’s earned a fortune coasting through movies and tv: the last season of Luther he was so phenomenally phoning it in I was gobsmacked that he thought he could get away with it. And he did!

  2. I’ve never read the books, but apparently they’re fantastic, and the film used all the most generic stuff from them. Which seems stupid, but I guess makes some kind of sense to Hollywood execs — “make this just like those other things that made money!” Hopefully the makers of the TV series will have learnt something from the movie’s failings.

  3. Pingback: The 2019 List: July – the ghost of 82

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