The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower

In Theatres: 
Aug 04, 2017
Running Time: 
95 minutes

Spanning eight novels and with characters who cross over into others, The Dark Tower series ranks highly among Stephen King’s works. So it comes as no surprise as fans of the series have been anticipating the film adaptation of the novels for quite some time now, especially since the project has been in some form of development since 2007. It’s unfortunate then that the film audiences got is a shell of what could have been possible given the source material and cast.


Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has been having vivid dreams of a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and a Gunslinger (Idris Elba) as they duel over a massive tower that stands at the center of the universe, surrounded by various otherworldly dimensions, Earth included. The Man in Black wants to see the tower fall, which would allow the darkness and its monsters to wreak havoc on all the worlds in the universe. Jake believes these dreams are real, but everyone around him see them as just a fantasy. But one day Jake stumbles upon a hose from his dreams and discovers a portal within, leading him to the Gunslinger. There is a war for the tower happening, and Jake, as it turns out, is the key to ending it.


I will say right off the bat that I have not read any of the Stephen King novels so The Dark Tower is my introduction to this world and its characters. From what I’ve heard, however, is that the film borrows elements and characters from the books, but the story is completely separate. If you go in expecting a direct adaptation, prepare to be disappointed.


The most interesting thing about The Dark Tower is its characters. Matthew McConaughey is excellent as the villainous Man in Black, a powerful sorcerer who can influence people to do whatever he says. He’s a bad guy who seems like he has limitless power, and McConaughey does an absolutely frightening job at conveying just how imposing a figure he is to everyone around him. Some intense moments feel like they’re straight out of one of King’s horror novels.  Opposite him is Roland, the Gunslinger. Idris Elba does a great job too at becoming this character, who struggles between revenge and justice. He’s a man who has all but given up on the oath he took to become a Gunslinger until he crosses paths with Jake.


Unfortunately, the film devotes little time to actually developing these characters or the world they populate. It’s a brisk 95 minutes, and it sure feels that way. What seems like important details are quickly glossed over. It’s not in favor of more action scenes, either. There’s just not much present in general. I kept looking for something to become invested in, but that thing never came. The action was entertaining, and I definitely wanted to know more about the characters, but most of the film was forgettable.


I can’t help but feel The Dark Tower is underutilized in every aspect, from its well talented cast to its expansive source material. The content is most definitely there, the film just fails to take advantage of it for whatever reasons. What should have been this vast fantasy epic is instead just another generic action film. It’s not bad as far as things go, it just could/should have been so much better.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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