The Dark Tower: Proceed Heavily With Caution

Roland (Idris Elba) and Walter (Matthew McConaughey) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.

The Dark Tower does it’s best to introduce us to a fantasy world created by novelist Stephen King but it would have been better off as a mini-series rather than starting a film franchise that serves as a rebooted sequel to the books.

Based on the novels by Stephen King, Nikolaj Arcel directs from a screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen & Nikolaj Arcel.  The film stars Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee, and Jackie Earle Haley.  Katheryn Winnick, Nicholas Pauling, Jose Zuniga, Michael Barbieri, and Dennis Haysbert are also in the cast.

The film has been a long time in the making as it spent years in development hell.  At one point, Universal Pictures was attached but then they pulled their support.  Warner Bros. Pictures expressed an interest but ultimately passed.  Finally, Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital got on board.

I went into last night’s screening with the thought that this would start at the beginning of the book series, which I haven’t read.  The film adapts some parts of the books but it’s a sequel that follows the seventh book in the series.  For newbies like me, this film did not serve as the introduction it deserved (see BMD, EW) as it immediately follows The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.

What we do know is that Roland Deschain (Elba) is the last Gunslinger and Elba is the only good thing about this film and maybe the best part is the Wanted-like sequence where he’s taking down all these bad guys.  Other than the Gunslingers reciting an oath, I couldn’t tell you exactly who or what they are other than they carry guns that are compared to Excalibur.  Roland is in a never-ending battle with a person known as Walter O’Dim (McConaughey), better known as the Man in Black.  Again, why are they in this war?  What we do know is that Walter wants to take out on object referred to as the Dark Tower, a tower that holds the universe together.  We’re introduced to both of them through the visions that Jake Chambers (Taylor) has in New York City but the first scene of the film in many ways could be something that could very well have come at the end of a movie.  It’s that confusing.

Jake lives with his mother Laurie (Winnick) and stepfather Lon (Pauling) in the city.  They think he needs to go to a school that can help him.  Jake has nightmarish dreams of the Gunslinger, Man in Black, and the world they inherit, Mid-World.  He makes drawings of the things he sees in his visions, one of which turns out to be a house in Brooklyn.

In bringing The Dark Tower to the big screen the filmmakers needed to ask the question where to begin.  Now the question is:  where do they go from here?  A television series has long been planned as a part of the package and rumored to air next year..  Will it actually happen?

You’ll see it if you’re a King superfan but if you’re not, I’d recommend proceeding with caution.

Columbia Pictures and MRC will release The Dark Tower on August 4, 2017.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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