The Gunslinger (Idris Elba) and Jake (Tom Taylor) grind their way through The Dark Tower. (Sony Pictures image)

Reel Reviews: The Dark Tower barely stands

We say, “We hope It is better”

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is a boy living in New York City, plagued by his mother, his psychiatrist, and troubling nightmares. He always dreams of the man in black (Matthew McConaughey) whose efforts to bring down the Dark Tower are thwarted by the Gunslinger (Idris Elba).

Jake’s drawings lead him to the realm of Midworld, where there is legend of a boy with the power to save the tower, which could, in turn, save worlds.

We say, “We hope It is better.”

TAYLOR: I’ve read a lot of Stephen King, as has Howe. We’ve had lengthy conversations about every King movie, good, bad, and ugly. There are a few great King movies: The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, maybe Misery. I think The Dark Tower is going to fit in the middle. It’s good, not great. I haven’t read the Gunslinger series, but my wife has and she says, “the film is a faithful adaptation of the characters, if not the story.” Having only the film to go on, I think it might be a little too tidy. Another 30 minutes of story would have helped the audience understand and appreciate these characters.

HOWE: I had exactly the same thought — it doesn’t really expand on the characters’ history. I was scratching my head when I left with a few questions unanswered. “What was the man in black really after, what about the other realms, and is this really King’s finest work?” The last one I can guess at — maybe the book, like most of King’s work, doesn’t really cross over from novel to screen. I wouldn’t class this with the same breath as the above mentioned movies, I would put it somewhere between Salem’s Lot and Dreamcatcher.

TAYLOR: That’s too low. I think it could end up in about 10th place overall, maybe ninth. Also, for the record, The Shining, which should be at the top of that list, doesn’t count. It’s not a Stephen King film — it’s a Kubrik film. The Dark Tower, although fine, seems to be very packaged. It has to periodically remind us that it’s also an action flick. It has to compete with other bombastic fare. In trying to be commercial, maybe they lost something — grit comes to mind. I was definitely underwhelmed by this film.

HOWE: Throughout the movie, there are little inserts from different King books and I had more fun trying to spot them than watching the movie. To be totally honest, the story line is disappointing and the acting is a little wooden and cheesy, especially the gunslinger’s mantra. Let’s just hope that It is better.

Taylor gives the Dark Tower 2.5 generous servings out of 5.

Howe gives it 2 portals out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears every Friday.

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