After decades of waiting, The Dark Tower has finally hit the big screen, for better or worse. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey take on the iconic roles of Roland, The Gunslinger, and Walter, The Man in Black. One of them is successful, the other is not.
Taking the inexplicable route of a sequel to the book series (I think this is more of a copout once they realized what they’ve done doesn’t make a lick of sense), The Dark Tower follows young Jake Chambers who has dreams of the titular Dark Tower and its last living protector The Gunslinger, Roland, who escapes the clutches of those using kids with Shine (See The Shining), to use them to destroy said tower. He stumbles across a portal and ends up in Mid-World where he runs across Roland and the two of them begin a journey to find Walter so that Roland can exact his revenge. He doesn’t care about saving the Tower any more, he just wants vengeance, except Walter is the one trying to destroy the tower so THE GOALS ARE THE SAME, no matter how many times the writers make Roland say they aren’t.
How is the Dark Tower script?
That’s my single biggest issue with this movie: the script is TERRIBLE. It’s a contradictory mess and it features some of the single worst dialogue I’ve heard in a film since the hey day of Direct-To-Video classics at Blockbuster. Most of this atrocious dialogue is inflicted on Matthew McConaughey who sounds more like a reject Looney Tunes villain than anything Stephen King could dream up. His performance is so over the top hammy that it is hard to believe he had any performance direction at all. Every time he spoke was like walking past a overused port-a-potty.
I’ve been waiting for this film for decades. This is my Lord of the Rings. This series has had a profound impact on my own works so to see it come to this, well, it’s heartbreaking. The wrong people were put in charge of this franchise. Akiva Goldsman is a poison apple to any kind of franchise, let alone one as deep in lore and story as this one. He never should have been on board The Dark Tower and Sony has in all likely hood destroyed the franchise in doing so.
Sticking Stephen King easter eggs into a piece of shit film is not going to distract us from the fact that this movie is not good, that it is a failure on nearly every level. It’s an uninspired, lazy attempt and those involved should be ashamed, especially the writers.
The Dark Tower isn’t complete garbage.
Is there any good here? Yes. A couple sequences are cool, if a little over CGI’d. Roland and Jake’s interactions are well done, especially the scene with the Gunslinger’s Creed. The final battle between Roland and Walter is laughable and has about as much intensity as watching McConaughey model new clothes at a Ross.
The attempts at humor are even more atrocious. At one point we see Walter cooking chicken in a kitchen and he says, “We don’t have chicken where I come from” or something like that, and five minutes later back in Walter’s world we get a close-up shot of a chicken! What kind of lazy f-grade filmmaking is that??
The people involved in this are completely lost in the lore of this series. They don’t get it. They make up useless characters just to stand around and push buttons like Fran Kranz, who incidentally would have made a great Eddie Dean, but instead is left here to spout expository dialogue like a fountain. It’s just a long line misfires in a film that has far too many of them already. Even the opening line of the book which is used here in the film to describe something that absolutely is not happening is a mystery. Walter is able to come and go from whatever world he wants any time he pleases. Keystone Earth? “People from keystone earth would know it as Excalibur.” That is a line that was written and approved and spoken in a film. Yes, it’s out of context and you probably aren’t getting the full intensity of just how terrible of a line it is. Just trust me.
There is hope for this franchise and that is removing every one of the creatives behind it and giving it to someone else. There is reason to be hopeful for the TV Series they’re planning, assuming it goes on after this clusterf*ck of a film, since The Walking Dead‘s Glen Mazzara is the Showrunner. If the films are to ever be successful, they need a completely new creative team. Get Akiva Goldsman as far away from this, and any other, project as possible.
I’ve been waiting decades for this, I never thought it would be this much of a let-down.
The Dark Tower is in theaters now.
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Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.