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'The Dark Tower' Review: A film that fails to capture the magic of Stephen King

Ghazi Alshehabi

I had been waiting for this one for a long time.

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is very dear to me; the eight books and their tie-in comics are a wild ride of ups and downs that made for an unforgetable experience.

But unfortunately this isn’t a review of the books, dear reader, it is about the movie.

To list the tumultuous pre-production processes that this film went through before finally making it to the big screen would take an article all on its own, but in summary many names were attached to the project – only to abandon it, or for the studio to pass it on to someone else until it landed in the lap of Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel.

While he has directed and written several foreign films, this was his Hollywood debut and his lack of experience with such a massive project shows.

The story revolves around Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a young boy living in New York, who gets visions of another world where the Man in Black (Mathew McConaughey) seeks to destroy the Dark Tower – the only thing holding the multiverse together and keeping the darkness at bay.

Jake seeks the help of Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) to save both their worlds, yet the film drags its feet throughout the first act and takes forever to get the plot rolling.

When it does it feels like the filmmakers sped through the important parts, allowing them to wrap up the movie in just one hour and 35 minutes.

For a film like this, style and aesthetic are key.

They could have gone in any direction with set designs, special effects and general production quality, especially with an estimated $60,000,000 budget.

But it ended up looking painfully plain and was more like a low-budget TV show, poorly under-lit with weak special effects, uninspired design and overall underwhelming cinematography.

There isn’t enough action scenes and, thanks to the poor cinematography and special effects, it lacks any sort of originality other than the nifty ways Roland reloads his guns. But that’s about it.

Even the final confrontation ends with more of a whimper than a bang.

Despite the strong cast, only McConaughey really stands out. It’s clear he enjoys playing the villain, but as for Elba, his Roland is too stoic and subdued – to the point where he teeters on being boring.

While Taylor is clearly trying, he is simply passable in his role.

As a movie it is one of those easily forgettable action flicks that gets released in the summer.

It might be fun to just turn off your brain and watch, but don’t expect it to leave a lasting impression.

As an adaptation The Dark Tower fails to capture the essence of what made the books incredible, in fact it strays so far away from the books that it is hardly recognisable and is nothing more than a giant let down.

The Dark Tower is currently being screened at City Centre, Seef, Saar, Wadi Al Sail and Al Jazeera cinemas.