THE DARK TOWER (2017) – My rating: 8/10

The Dark Tower is a science-fiction/fantasy/western adaptation of a Stephen King novel of the same name.  I usually don’t fancy Stephen King novels but I love Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, as well as a love for fantasy and science-fiction movies. I didn’t hear good things about The Dark Tower, so my expectations of the film were pretty low, yet I was pleasantly surprised. This is why I critique movies from the perspective of the standard viewer rather than the critic’s point-of-view. I ask myself basic questions as part of my analysis that falls into three separate areas: 1) Was I entertained?  (Did the movie make me laugh, cry, shout in anger or make me want my money back?)  2) Did the movie send a message or did I learn anything? (Did the movie teach me something about myself or the world at-large or do I now know something profound about history that makes a difference to me?)  3)  Was the story brilliant or was the plot dull, offensive or ambiguous?  (could the plot be life changing for someone, including myself, does the way they faced adversity have a logical conclusion or was this just a big waste of time?)  While all three of these situations may not necessarily apply to every movie I see, at least two out of three do. My mission is not to analyze films for their literary content or even ones acting abilities. Yet, entertainment value and relevancy has to exist for me to label a movie as a good film.

Based on my formula, The Dark Tower falls under two of my three areas for analysis.The Dark Tower is about a mythical structure/tower that supports all realities.  Walter Padick / The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and his nemesis, Roland Deschain / The Last Gunslinger (Idris Elba) are on opposing sides of the tower. An 11-year old boy, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has visions of a man in black who seeks to destroy a tower that protects many worlds, including Earth.  He also dreams of a gunslinger who opposes the man in black. Jake’s mother Laurie Chambers (Katheryn Winnick), stepfather and psychiatrist Dr. Hotchkiss (José Zúñiga) dismiss Jake’s dreams as trauma, resulting from the death of his father (Karl Thaning) the previous year.

Given Jake’s strange behavior, his school suggested that he be temporarily admitted into a psychiatric facility where he would be rehabilitated. At his home in New York City, a group of workers from the facility appear to take Jake away but he recognizes them from his visions as monsters disguised as human, and flees. Jake tracks down an abandoned house that he recognizes from one of his visions and discovers a high-tech portal, which allows him to travel to a post-apocalyptic world called Mid-World.  Once in Mid-World, Jake encounters the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain from his visions. Roland is pursuing Walter Padick, the Man in Black who had also appeared in his dreams across a desert, seeking to kill him in revenge for the murder of his father, Steven (Dennis Haysbert). He explains that Walter has been abducting psychic children, and is attempting to use their powers to destroy The Dark Tower, a fabled structure located at the center of the universe; this will allow monsters from outside of the universe to invade and destroy the worlds that the tower protects. Roland takes Jake to a village to have his visions interpreted by a seer. Learning of Jake’s escape and journey to Mid-World, Walter investigates, and realizes that Jake has enough psychic potential to destroy the Tower without any help from other children.

Since The Dark Tower is derived from a comic book series, which I’ve never heard of, this is my first encounter with this story and its characters.  I mention this because many fans are disappointed that this adaptation does not follow the comic book series closely.  My critique is strictly from a new viewer’s perspective, with no prior knowledge of The Dark Tower.  As usual, I am stopping here because I do not want to give away any more of the story, which has a lot more twist and turns.  I really enjoyed the film, “what you see is what you get”.  It was suspenseful and entertaining and had a good message.  I think it’s worth checking out and the acting was excellent!  I understand there are 2 sequels in the works.

 

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