'The Dark Tower' review: Flaccid fantasy
If Stephen King's The Dark Tower is a prime example of one man's attempt to create mythology out of his own imagination, Nikolaj Arcel's adaptation of the multi-novel series is a prime example of having that mythology reduced into a series of plot points to service the material's transition to becoming a blockbuster.
The film's a rushed affair.
Opening with a textual explanation of how the titular tower protects worlds from an invasion of evil, the film immediately jumps to show children being herded into an ominous structure where light beams harvested from them blast toward the tower. The damage from the tower results in earthquakes around the world, which Jake (Tom Taylor), a boy troubled by dreams of gunslingers and sorcerers fighting each other, inevitably connects to his visions.
Of course, everybody else thinks he's more than a tad loony. As it turns out, his visions are true, leading him to team up with Roland (Idris Elba), the last gunslinger who in between battles spends most of his time brooding, to save the world from Walter (Matthew McConaughey), the evil sorcerer who seeks to destroy the tower with the help of the children he kidnaps for his latent "shine."
Arcel dutifully does his business of connecting the dots, making sure that the good triumphs over evil in a comfortably brisk pace. In that sense, The Dark Tower is mightily effective since it functions efficiently as a serviceable diversion, a flat but easy-to-follow fantasy that has bits and pieces of something truly compelling in a cinematic mythology-building sense.
Unfortunately, the film abandons depth for foolish brevity, leading to something that is thin, flaccid, dull, and dumb.
Incoherent and haphazard
For a film with a character whose existence relies on his ability to expertly wield guns, The Dark Tower has action scenes that are at best, limp in their portrayal as to how those weapons work, and at worst, frustratingly incoherent.
Arcel heavily relies on tricks, haphazardly editing the action sequences not to gift his audience with elaborately conceived spectacles that would have the character portrayed with lackluster charm by Elba earn his title, but to be a merely mechanical display of the gunslinger shooting his gun and his victim receiving the bullet. McConaughey attempts to liven up his character with sly histrionics. Sadly, the effect is more distracting than anything.
Arcel's adaptation is quite a perplexing mishmash of both underwhelming and overwhelming performances from otherwise very capable actors.
King's mythology is sorely wasted.
It is either glossed over for convenient plot progression or told through tediously written exposition all for the sake of making sense of all the fantastic details involving face masks, portals, and children with psychological powers. The Dark Tower is nothing more than a hollow vessel, the sorry remains of what used to be a rich and personal work after being butchered by Hollywood's machinations. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.