“The Dark Tower” is simply dim.
Reduced to a single movie, Stephen King’s multi-volume magnum opus is dark, all right — but in a bad way. The cinematography is murky. Motivations are shadowy.
And a good reason to watch? That’s even harder to see.
Rather than faithfully adapt one of the stories in the long-running series, “The Dark Tower” is content to rehash, rewrite and reboot, borrowing details from some books and inventing others.
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The basic situation is the same. In a post-apocalyptic world, there is the Man in Black, a sorcerer who wants to bring on a demonic apocalypse. There is also a Gunslinger who wants to stop him.
And, suddenly interrupting their duel, is a dimension-travelling, middle-school boy named Jake, a traveler from Earth with a powerful psychic gift.
Fans of the literary franchise loved King’s wild mix of genres — cowboys and wizards, sci-fi and fantasy. But chopped up and crammed into a single, short movie, it’s a confusing and cheesy casserole.
Is the Gunslinger’s home planet really a different world, or just a different Earth? And why does the Man in Black want so badly to destroy it? What exactly does he get out of it? Salvage rights?
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There are a couple of cool, if completely unexplained touches — like the way the faces of the Man in Black’s helpers have a habit of falling off. Suddenly we’re in one of those reality shows about bad plastic surgery.
But what should be major set pieces — the hellish scene at the Dixie Pig club, the brain-draining machine that sucks children dry — are more awful than awesome. When a gargantuan demon arrives, he’s nothing but CGI smoke and fire.
The novels were about characters wandering across a barren landscape. The movie is about actors lost in an empty movie.
Idris Elba, who commands any scene just by entering it, makes a fine, forceful figure as the quick-draw hero. But Matthew McConaughey is a well-glazed country ham as the oily and over-the-top villain. And Tom Taylor never convinces as the mind-reading little boy — if he were really psychic, wouldn’t he know how awful this movie was going to be?
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Sorry, but get out the wrecking ball — this “Dark Tower” is condemned.
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