THE DARK TOWER Is A Black Stain On Stephen King's Most Ambitious Work

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Opens Aug 4, should close Aug 11, if we're lucky.

THE DARK TOWER is Hollywood stupidity in maximum overdrive. I just don’t get it. The studios scramble to secure the film rights to beloved stories and then take a massive dump on the fans who naturally expect these adaptations to be extremely faithful to the source material. I’m not so naïve as to think you can perfectly recreate ever scene from every book or comic issue. Let’s face it, Superman’s costume barely works in the comic books and generally looks cheesy on the big screen. At least Warner Bros. tried to get the look right, if nothing else. 20th Century Fox (when are they going to accept that the new millennium isn’t going away any time soon and update their name?) fumbled the last attempt at The FANTASTIC FOUR so badly even small children complained about the plot holes and woeful dialogue despite well over 400 issues of story and history to work with in a format that practically anyone should be able to make into a passable film. In the spirit of “Anything you can do we can do worse!” which seems to be the credo of American cinema these days, Columbia Pictures has given legions of Stephen King fans the middle finger with this dreck.

Tom Taylor is solid enough as Jake Chambers, a young man who dreams of another world teetering on the brink of destruction—and their Armageddon could also destroy his Earth. The problem is this isn’t his story. It’s Roland the Gunslinger’s story, in the novels. Idris Elba is completely marginalized here as more of an “Obi-Wan Kenobi” archetype to Taylor’s “Skywalker.” You probably don’t even need to open a window to hear the collective groan of Dark Tower readers everywhere. Matthew McConaughey looked overly moisturized for a man who just strode across a desert, and his not-terribly-frightening version of the Devil was done better by Viggo Mortensen in THE PROPHECY (1995). That famous first line of the novel was utterly thrown away, whispered by a never really identified narrator--possibly the seer Arra played by Claudia Kim?--during a scene transition. Yes, I’m serious. The script by Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinker, Anders Thomas Jensen and Nikolaj Arcel, who also directed, simply didn’t bother to adapt the novels at all.

There’s a very good reason for that, of course. This film is meant to be a “sequel” to the books and a “pilot film” for a new Dark Tower TV series. Yes, you read that correctly—Columbia Pictures and their parent company Sony expect you, the movie-going public, to spend your hard-earned dollars to watch a “pilot episode“ of a new TV series that also won’t be an adaptation of the novels! Are the books that hard to reproduce as a film? Well, quite possibly yes. THE DARK TOWER languished in developmental Hell for years (someplace McConaughey should have spent some time in to hone his character), starting with J.J. Abrams attached to the project in 2007 and then Ron Howard into 2015 before he gave up too. So after those two Hollywood heavyweights couldn’t make it happen, Sony/Columbia said, “Niklaj Arcel is our guy?” Wow, was Uwe Boll too busy? He scrapes together a few elements from throughout the entire series to blend into this incomprehensible mess. I know, I know, if I'd bothered to watch the trailer or read up on it before hand I’d have known they weren't even trying to adapt the novels. If I'd have known that going in I’d have opted to go see SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING again instead.

From the slow plot, the tedium of the first half hour (of a 95 minute film that feels twice as long) and the ridiculous notion that an ancient evil wizard who can slaughter whole towns without breaking a sweat needs a high tech “Death Star” array powered by “the shining” psychic auras of children to obliterate a magical tower isn’t enough to dissuade you from wasting your money on THE DARK TOWER, you’re not just an over-zealous King fanatic, you’re a glutton for punishment and disappointment. This is the kind of horrible filmmaking with obvious studio tinkering in pursuit of another franchise for continual financial gratification that keeps the industry shackled in unoriginality. I would bet that within 18 months some amateur filmmaker will post a short on YouTube that would put this entire movie to shame. And a shame it is, because the millions of fans who have poured through Stephen King’s magnum opus deserved a much better film than this. This is so lousy it’s actually offensive to anyone who’s read any of the books in the series. Even Pennywise couldn't float this crap.

Grade: 
1.0 / 5.0