Monday, August 07, 2017

The Dark Tower

Year: 2017
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Jackie Earle Haley, Katheryn Winnick, Claudia Kim, Dennis Haysbert, Fran Kranz

Plot: In a parallel universe, warriors known as Gunslingers protect the Dark Tower, the source of protection of all realms from the darkness beyond. The last Gunslinger alive, Roland must now protect a young boy from Earth, whom a mysterious Man In Black intends to use to destroy the tower.

Review: I almost decided not to watch this film after hearing about the poor reviews it got. After seeing it, I have to say it's not too bad. Much like last year's Warcraft, The Dark Tower suffers from not making enough time to explore its universe, though compared to the former, it is at least more comprehensible.

It's basically the story of two men and a boy. Roland, the last Gunslinger, has given up his duty to protect the Dark Tower and only wants revenge against Walter a.k.a. The Man In Black, who had killed his father. Walter needs a special child with strong enough psychic abilities to destroy the tower and unleash hell on the universe. Jake, a boy from our world, is the child in question, and now Roland has to protect him from Walter at all costs.

If you're looking for a straightforward action fantasy movie, The Dark Tower pretty much fits the bill. The CGI is good, the action is well shot and the old fashioned tale of good vs evil is the film's centrepiece. In short, if you lower your expectations and just have fun with this film, chances are you'll enjoy yourself, just like I did. Director Nikolaj Arcel, who co-wrote the film with Akiva Goldsman and two others, does a decent enough job in pacing the film and keeping things coherent for the most part. A film where characters jump from one universe to another can get complicated but Arcel is up to the task.

Idris Elba is perfect as Roland, balancing perfectly between weary hero and father figure to the boy. He also excels in the action sequences; I gotta say, watching him shoot and reload his guns is the coolest thing about this film. Matthew McConaughey plays Walter with a mixture of devilish charm and cold calmness, and a worthy opponent for Roland. I only wish the film was a bit longer so we can see more of him. Tom Taylor is splendid as Jake, a boy who misses his late father and looks up to Roland as a friend and surrogate dad.

Apparently, test audiences didn't like the film and reshoots were done, so if you've seen the trailers, you'd notice a few missing scenes; even the climax of the film ended pretty abruptly. And, as mentioned, like Warcraft, you get the feeling there's a whole backstory to this that could have been explored or at least briefly explained, like Walter's origins, or why a child is needed to bring the tower down, or who made the portals that allow them to travel between universes. 

To sum it up, The Dark Tower is fun, but it's over way too soon. With a bit more time spent on its story, it could have been truly memorable. It is written by Stephen King, after all. (7.5/10)

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