Stephen King has had a discordant history when it comes to adaptations of his work. Some that he personally liked that no one else did. Some that he hated that soon became cultural phenomenons. Some that nobody enjoyed and other others that everybody is in agreement with. Yet in 2017, one of the author’s most extensive tales was given a chance, a fitting introduction to the legend of The Dark Tower.
In New York, a youth named Jake has visions about an apocalypse, where children like him are kidnapped and tortured. To help an evil figure dressed entirely in black unleash pandemonium on the real world. Others doubt his sanity, but that all changes when a charismatic and manipulative figure makes his way into the real world. With his parents killed and with multiple cronies of the Man in Black, on his trail. He manages to find a portal to the world he dreamt about. It’s now up to Jake and the Gunslinger to not just save this dimension, but also his own from the forces of evil.
Depicting the chronicles of the great Gunslinger is Idris Elba, once again skilfully hiding the fact that he’s British behind a solemn and stoic persona, that feels more than worthy to a character that goes by The Gunslinger. Props should also go to McConaughey who manages to have fun while being menacing as the notorious Randal Flagg. The protagonist Jake is also another English native, Tom Taylor, who leaps perfectly into the role of an American teen, with him playing a child whose pretty much adamant he is correct, and now has the fate of humanity on his untapped powers.
The film also knows that most of the cinema-going public is at least tangentially familiar with the prior works of Stephen King. The Dark Tower reference’s its author’s prior work with pride, The Shining, Christine, and even those who film, and book outings weren’t as well-received. The film also feels very reminiscent of superhero films, especially with the prominent amount of ‘mythical beings’ who inhabit the real world. As somebody who hasn’t read The Dark Tower, I have little to suggest how accurate to the feel of the book. We see most of the film through the eyes of Jake which is a classic method for delivering the heavy exposition needed. The film is a good introduction and helps you not to feel lost in the action and lore.
The Dark Tower managed to condense a massive tome into an hour and thirty minutes. It has the feeling that a lot more is left for future sequels. It’s a fun almost-comic-book style cinematic adventure to the lighter aspects of Kings work. A good jumping-off point for anybody on the fence and with good performances from both McConaughey and Elba, The Dark Tower is definitely a film to vanquish from any to-watch list.
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