‘The Dark Tower’ Review: Idris Elba Is Caught In A Rushed YA Adaptation Of A Popular Stephen King Series

source: SONY

The latest Stephen King adaptation looks nothing like a Stephen King novel come to screen

It’s a terrific year for Stephen King fans…or so it may seem. A new adaptation of It is just around the corner, and there are a couple of TV series adaptations as well. But nothing is more exciting than an adaption of Stephen King’s popular book series The Dark Tower. This movie could possibly give way to a Stephen King franchise or even a Stephen King universe. However, The Dark Tower is so uninspired and cliché that it’s no wonder the movie is so short.

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) keeps having dreams of a dark tower in an alternate world. Inhabitated by The Man In Black (Matthew McConaughey), the dark tower is in danger of being destroyed. When Jake’s dreams become a reality, he must defeat The Man In Black with the help of Rolan (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, before their world crumbles to nothing but dust.

The problem doesn’t arise with The Dark Tower‘s set up and first act. Both are surprisingly solid. Sure, it’s rushed, and there’s no time to meet the main character. However, it moves along at a fast pace, and it’s hard to be bored by the interesting premise it promises. From the creepy skin people to the interconnected worlds, The Dark Tower has potential to be a dark sci-fi adventure story. There’s plenty of world building opportunities, and with the help of Stephen King’s great books, there’s seems to be endless possibilities.

Yet, despite all these opportunities, The Dark Tower takes the cliché YA dystopian world route that we’ve seen done a million times before, some much better than this. They bring down the darker and bolder elements to a more PG-13 level lessening the impact these have on their audience. It falls into every YA cliché we’ve come to see even to the extent that it tries to introduce a love-story just briefly.

Tom Taylor, Idris Elba, and Matthew McConaughey are trapped in this messy adaptation – source: SONY

Yes, brief would be the perfect word to describe the whole Dark Tower experience. It rushes every plot element not taking the time to set up our characters. It gives us the minimum story possible to make sense while dodging many more answers that the film never acknowledges. Clocking in at just 90 minutes, a lot of the story is things or characters just being conveniently there to help the story move along its super quick pace. Someone’s power will be revealed just when it’s convenient to the story or a someone will just find the exact portal they we’re looking for. It’s all too on-the-nose to be taken seriously.

As a result of the rushed story, the worldbuilding is nowhere close to where it should be. There isn’t any understanding of how this interconnected world works beyond the basic explanation. The characters like to explain to us how things work instead of actually showing us. This is indeed a result of the extremely fast pacing of the film in which they have no time to explore the intricate and complex world of Stephen King. If you thought it had enough on its plate, think again because the filmmakers tried to make a Stephen King universe. They showed us various callbacks to King’s other works including Misery’s Child. Of course, this doesn’t work like much of the film itself.

Thankfully, The Dark Tower doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s 90 minutes runtime is both a curse and a blessing. Although it kept the movie from exploring, it ended just before going into an extremely bad territory. During the third act, it brushes with laughable action sequences and bad special effects before ending in an abrupt nature.

The Dark Tower has no doubt shut out the possibility of turning Stephen King’s book series into the next big blockbuster franchise for the nearest future at least. Fans of the book will have to continue waiting until this terrible attempt has faded from our minds and I’m sure it won’t take too long. I sincerely hope this is not a sneak peak of what’s to come from the It movie. Can we at least have a good Stephen King adaptation this year?


The Dark Tower is released on August 4th. 

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