‘The Dark Tower’ incites a quick-thrill, with an empty aftertaste

A movie with exceptional potential just feels empty

Have you ever gone on a rollercoaster and had a fun time, but the moment you stepped off immediately felt cheated out of your time and money? Maybe that’s too aggressive a metaphor, but after watching Nikolaj Arcel’s “The Dark Tower” I left like I had just gotten off that ride.

Seeing the film was like watching a dancing skeleton for an hour-and-a-half. All of the makings for a stellar cinema experience were there, but none in the flesh to really leave me satisfied after I left.

“The Dark Tower” directed by Arcel and based off the popular Stephen King book series, follows a young Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor, as he seeks to prove himself sane by searching for the truth behind the strange dreams he’s been having. Winding up on a parallel Earth, Chambers meets The Gunslinger Roland Deschain, played by Idris Elba, and together they team up to defeat the Man in Black, Matthew McConaughey, in order to save the universe.

Now, on the surface, this movie has all the right stuff in its description. Idris Elba. Matthew McConaughey. Guns. Action. Adventure. Yeah, I’m sold. However, this is mostly all the film has to offer.

At a run-time of 95 minutes, this was to be expected and is definitely why the film suffers.

This film is pulling from a book series consisting of more than eight novels and yet it feels as though it was ripped out of a short young adult novel, which is unfortunate considering 2005’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” proves this can be done effectively.

Instead of fleshing out backstory, mythos and true character development, the movie starts in second gear, asking the audience to fill in the blanks and not ask deeper questions. Its first act is left feeling as though it’s already the second, and the third feels incomplete.

McConaughey and Elba are the reasons the movie succeeds as well as it does because the movie truly is fun. McConaughey is haunting as the Man in Black and Elba’s tortured and heroic Gunslinger is a true knight, even if not in shining armor. They handle their characters with poise and finesse that leaves the audience wanting to know more, but sadly, their dynamic only hints at complicated while remaining generically good vs. evil.

I did find myself invested in the movie through the touching moments between Chambers and his mother at the beginning and the father-son chemistry of Elba and Taylor throughout. Their humor was perfectly matched, and I bought into their relationship from start to finish.

I was hoping for them to wind up on top when it came to the film's climax, but sadly, the trailers spoil most of the epic moments the ending minutes should have had, save one crazy display of marksmanship, and the impact of the moment fell flat.

Overall, I found myself constantly in awe of the world of “The Dark Tower” and its many layers the movie teases, but constantly underwhelmed by how surface level it felt. As someone who didn’t read the books I can’t say much, but I feel as though fans expecting to have grand dreams fulfilled will leave with nothing but hope that they can get what they really wanted in the future.

Overall score: 2.5 

Reach the reporter at balnero13@gmail.com or follow @BaldnerOwen on Twitter.

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