The inherent problem when trying to review a movie like THE DARK TOWER is that the actual finished product is not what most of us are critiquing. Based on a series of Stephen King novels that were released over a period of three decades, TOWER had a lot of high expectations attached to it the moment it was announced to be in pre-production — and it is more than fair to admit that the movie fails to reach many of them.
The easy-to-overlook truth of the matter, however, is that TOWER is not a disaster of a film. It is overly conventional, it feels rushed, and it IS a bit of a mess, but it is not nearly as bad as many of the reviews (and that Rotten Tomatoes score) would lead you to believe. Regardless of what you bring to the table yourself, or whatever source material is hanging over its head, movies should be judged on their own merit. They exist as their own property, and should be treated as such. At the end of the day, though, THE DARK TOWER is damn near the epitome of the term “mediocre.”
The muddled story centers on 11-year-old Jake Chambers (newcomer Tom Taylor); a troubled boy who begins to dream about a mysterious parallel universe following the death of his father. Matthew McConaughey is an evil sorcerer named Walter o’Dim (who dresses like an uncle who is still into swinging), and Idris Elba is Roland Deschain; the last in a line of Gunslingers that have sworn to protect the titular tower, or something. A major issue with THE DARK TOWER is that it does a poor job of explaining things — almost as if this movie was edited with the belief that everyone who buys a ticket has obviously read all eight books.
And here’s where the fun begins. Seemingly, this movie was made for TOWER’s built-in audience… and, yet, the biggest complaint you’ll hear from fans is that the movie is not faithful to the source material, at all. That said, even if they somehow didn’t mess that up (TOWER ends up feeling like a strange remake of THE LAST ACTION HERO), why attempt to cram a potential trilogy (or, far better, an HBO series) into a 95-minute long movie?
Once again, though, THE DARK TOWER is not nearly as bad as you’ve heard (or claimed). It’s an unremarkable action film, but the hate it is receiving is disproportionate and unfair. TOWER does deserve to be criticized for shoddy CGI, poor performances, and a confusing storyline, but it is not amongst the worst that this summer had to offer. There is just no way that 47 METERS DOWN or KIDNAP should look good in comparison to TOWER’s reviews.
Two out of Five Beers.