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[Review] ‘The Dark Tower’ Has Forgotten the Face of its Father

[Review] ‘The Dark Tower’ Has Forgotten the Face of its Father

The Dark Tower is one of two films based on Stephen King novels coming out in the next two months, and it’s the one I was hoping most to succeed. Unfortunately, months of alleged troubled production, along with a boring and uninspired screenplay, and TV-quality visual effects all add up to make one of the most forgettable movies I’ve seen since Rings.

Despite the source material’s meaty premise, the film keeps things pretty simple. The Dark Tower creates a powerful forcefield around an infinite number of worlds and it keeps monsters out. The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) wants to bring the tower down and Roland (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger is on a quest to stop him. Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a kid who lives on Earth sees Roland and The Man in Black in his dreams, and he manages to make his way into Mid-World where they reside.

Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, every second of the film is focused on hurtling towards a climactic fight between Roland and The Man in Black. That’s a bummer because the world that’s introduced, as I’m sure any fan of the series knows, is incredibly interesting. Why is The Man in Black so evil? Who were the mysterious Gunslingers? Who are the monsters working for The Man in Black? All of these questions and more popped into my head while I watched the movie, and absolutely none of them were answered.

The Gunslinger’s Creed ends with the line, “You kill with your heart,” and while you hear that line more than once throughout the movie, as far as the plot’s concerned they’re just magic words. I couldn’t help but sigh out-loud when I heard them because they’re emblematic of the main thing The Dark Tower is lacking – heart. Excluding Roland and Jake Chambers, nobody in this film feels like anything other than a plot point. Line delivery is almost painfully dry at points, and the actors who are genuinely giving it their best shot are scarcely given anything close to the screen time necessary to do a good job. It’s almost as if the filmmakers didn’t want the audience to be able to focus on any one scene for more than a couple seconds so they cut them down as much as they possibly could.

The film’s saving grace is in its locations. Thanks to the fact that the plot takes place in many different places with equally varied terrain, there’s a lot of pretty scenery to take in. There’s also plenty of stock footage of New York City to gawk at, and the street level scenes do a better job of capturing what it’s actually like there. Finally, the few glimpses you get of the tower the film is named after are breathtaking as it spires up through the clouds.

My favorite part of the film takes place when Roland and Jake are making their way through a misty forest and have to fight a monster. It’s actually the only time in the film where the fight choreography, the visual effects, and the dialog fit together well and brought up some excitement and genuine tension. It’s also one of the only action scenes that hadn’t been spoiled for me by official marketing.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise but nearly every good joke and fight scenes are spoiled in the movie’s trailer. Even more unforgivable is that there isn’t a single reference to Stephen King’s other works that remains unspoiled by the trailer either. The final nail in the coffin comes during the anticlimactic final showdown where the visual effects take a dive to the level of cable TV. It’s honestly pretty confusing since during the rest of the movie I wasn’t really turned off by the vast majority of the effects.

The Dark Tower isn’t a bad movie, it’s just a massively disappointing one. It’s the literal definition of a heartless cash grab, but unlike Universal’s ill-fated Dark Universe, it tells a coherent tale that can definitely be expanded on in much better ways going forward. If you’re looking for a spooky action flick that lets you turn your brain off for 87 minutes before ultimately forgetting it, The Dark Tower might be worth checking out. If you can hold out another week, Annabelle: Creation is much more worth your time and money.



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COMMENTS

87 Comments
  • Hack Snyder

    I knew this film was going to be a disaster. Bravo Sony.

    • WALKTER

      Sony? Well that’s their first problem right there.

  • Creepshow

    All the shit between the article and the comment section is fucking ridiculous.

    • Hack Snyder

      Get This New Device Before It’s Banned!

    • John Squires

      A glitch that has been fixed.

      • Creepshow

        Thanks bud, but it still lingers on some articles. Like this one.

        • Barringtron

          Definitely not fixed. It took me as long to scroll down as it would to sit through this movie.

      • sliceanddice

        Still happening for me :S

      • Tony Harley

        nope

    • Colonel Ives

      yeah wtf

  • As a person who hasn’t read the books, this looks awful. I was VERY intrigued by the plot description (by fans on reddit, before the trailers came out). But once the trailer came out, it looked plain Jane. Shame

  • Carl Griffiths

    I knew it was going to be crap, I was excited when it first announced to be fair, but the more I read about it in development the more I knew it would be a stinker.

    It’s a story spanning 8 books and they have tried to cram everything in within 90 minutes without explaining anything properly.

    Imagine how shit ‘Harry Potter – The Film’ would have been if it was a one off.

    They should have made it into a series and stuck it on Netflix, they could have told the story properly.

    Wasted opportunity.

    • Surprisingly they tell a pretty coherent story with it, but it’s because there is literally NO MEAT to the plot. It’s just there’s a good guy, there’s a bad guy, they gotta fight after some walkin’!

  • WALKTER

    Ouch, “Annabelle Creation is much more worth your time and money”, rest in pepperonis dark tower sequels.

    • Yeah, rip in peace on those. Annabelle kicked ass though.

      • James

        Rest In Peace in peace?

      • Saturn

        Yup, A:C was a much better movie than D.T.

  • Cheddar Hayes

    I guess there won’t be a TV series now.

    • Might be for the best.

    • James

      They just announced there will be. They’re not going to just let this horse die. They’re going to work it as long as they can.

      • Jack Derwent

        Well they said when Ghostbusters came out that the sequels were still going to happen and that’s no longer the case.

  • Munchie

    “Shocking.”

  • Tetra-Gramaton-Cleric
  • sliceanddice

    In the words of quicksilver in age of ultra…. “You didn’t see that coming?”

    • Nah man I definitely did. Just hoped it would be better.

  • Bart Crowe

    You know a movie is bad if you guys didn’t like it.

    • I think I’m at an even 50/50 for like to dislike on reviews this year!

    • Matt Miller

      Lol, they love everything

  • Khy

    Anabelle Creation won’t be getting my time and money. Shit looks as interesting as a yeast infection and my friend who saw a screening said it was so boring.

    I’ll go with The Dark Tower. I haven’t followed its production or add campaign or read the novels so I don’t have anything to be disappointed over even if it is just a bunch of mindless action

    • James

      Dark tower won’t be any better. Good luck with that.

    • Your mistake lol glhf

      • Khy

        I’ll be making a mistake either way.

    • Fire2box

      “I haven’t followed its production or add campaign or read the novels so I don’t have anything to be disappointed over” oh you sweet summer child.

      there’s lots of things to be disappointed over. Such as who is The Crimson King, Why is the dark tower so important, what’s inside the dark tower, what happened to all of the kids/breakers, why is the man in black trying to destroy the entire universe, why is roland unaffected by MiB’s “Magics”, why does Man in Black call his powers “Magics” and not just magic? Why does it matter that roland’s guns were forged from the same metal from Excaliber? Why does Jake have physics powers so strong that he can see across worlds?

  • Creepshow

    This site has herpes. Practice safe scrolling.

    • Frank Gambino

      Did it get it from your mom?

      • Creepshow

        I knew a retard would take the bait, congrats you eunuch. Besides, my mom has genital warts, fucko.

        • Frank Gambino

          did you give her genital warts?

          • Khy

            What a sucky comeback.

          • Creepshow

            Go easy on tardo. Most people that ugly would’ve killed themselves by now.

    • Sean

      LOUD NOISES!!!

  • Wil McMullen

    Why am I not surprised…. The trailers did very little to inspire me to fork over the astronomical fees they charge nowadays to see this in the theater. Smh!

  • Diego P Minero

    The only reason I want to watch this movie is I saw in a photo that Abbey Lee Kershaw is on it… but How much screen time does she get? I really hope more -and better, if possible- than she did in Gods of Egypt…

    • I really didn’t like her in the movie. She only had a few lines but they’re delivered terribly.

  • KSE1977

    Nothing short of actually following the source material was going to keep people happy here. No amount of decent actors can save a bad script. Too bad. I will wait for the digital release.

  • American Atheist

    As soon as I saw the PG-13 rating I figured it’d be shit.

  • DR

    This devastates me. Been waiting 15 years for a movie!

    • Brian Douglas Wirth

      And they don’t even try to follow the books

  • Jada Maes

    I’ll see it and I’ll probably enjoy it. Problems can be fixed in future movies, and the books will always be there. Plus, I don’t need to hear the crowing of racist assholes that OBVIOUSLY it’s bad because all gunslingers are WASPs, blah blah blah…

    • Jack Derwent

      Less “All Gunslingers are WASPs” and more “Roland being white is a major source of conflict with a black character in the series” but carry on…

      • Jada Maes

        So we couldn’t modify it a bit? That maybe that black character would be upset that in her world she’s treated like garbage while in another a black man is a king? Might that add some complexity to the relationship?

        It also irks me that the people who complain ALWAYS USE DETTA WALKER as their excuse. It’s telling they believe that the story hinges on hate, not on the love that develops between them.

        • Jack Derwent

          It would just end up diluting and watering down the conflict. Which would fit right in with what the film is doing so congrats on that. And no one is saying the entire story hinges on hate, but nice strawman.

          • Jada Maes

            Actually, plenty of commenters have said that it’s the basis of Susannah and Roland’s whole relationship, all her calling him a honky mufuh.

        • Saturn

          How would you feel if Tom Cruise (as an example) was given the role of Shaft?
          Or, if Blade was suddenly portrayed by a blonde haired Australian?

          Personally I don’t have a dog in this fight, as I’ve never read the DT books so cannot say either way if it makes a big difference, but it seems to many it does.
          It just seems there is so much pandering going on these days it’s becoming ridiculous.

          I’m looking forward to the Blacula remake starring Jesse Eisenburg.
          Hell, the race of a fictional character shouldn’t matter, right? It could add to the complexity of the character!

          😉

          • Jada Maes

            Yeah, those casting ideas would be terribly insulting, wouldn’t they? Like, you know, painting white actors brown to play Hispanic characters in Elysium and Aliens. Or casting Scarlett Johannssen as a Japanese woman. Or handwaving Keanu Reeves as half British/half Japanese so he can play a samurai. Or casting Jared Leto as a transwoman.

            There doesn’t come a point that you shame me into thinking diversity is bad. And Blade should’ve been British.

          • Saturn

            I cannot comment on Elysium as I have never seen it – but in regards to the whole Ghost In The Shell thing, even in Japan they don’t have an issue with it – as for one, it’s based on Anime and MANY of the characters in Anime are based on European features – so if the Japanese have no issue with ith?
            Oh, and Keanu’s father is of Hawaiin/Chinese ancestry – so I’d imagine you’d be fine with him playing someone of mixed heritage – seeing as he IS indeed of mixed heritage. That should at least score him a few social justice points.

            Don’t think I’m trying to shame you into thinking diversity is bad – I don’t believe that either – but, instead of being so overly PC in casting black actors in white roles which in many cases are steeped in history, just CREATE new characters!
            Would Idris be a great Bond? Quite probably so – but the character is a classic who is WHITE. Just create a new Agent who is Bond’s equal in the same universe of movies – perhaps introduce him/her in the next Bond movie and see how it goes from there – hell, perhaps it’s a new agent who proves his/her mettle by actually saving Bond from certain death.
            A Black Superman? Why not – as long as it’s NOT Clarke Kent.
            Create a new mythology that Clarke was not the only one who escaped Krypton (well, we know he wasn’t, but for the sake of those who aren’t so clued up on the mythos) – perhaps a “black” Kryptonian (hell, he could be from a warlike planet in the same system as Krypton, who have destroyed themselves through war) escaped also and ended up on Earth years earlier/later and has been hiding in plain sight, much like Kal El in Man Of Steel. And instead of the whole “well, he’s been hiding in Africa which some would say – perhaps have him growing up in someplace like Korea, where he can learn what it likes to be an outsider not just in the cast of Earth, but as a stranger in a land with very few black folk”. This could be what drives him – to rid the world of racism, as he has seen at first hand what racism can do to a world.

            A Black/Hispanic Spider-Man? Why not – again though, not Peter Parker just to “pander” to the Alt-Left.
            I’d love to see the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man on the big screen, as it would be interesting to see something from a different ball-park to the usual Spider-Man movies. Surely “when” Spider-Man is rebooted (again) they have to go down this route, finally?

            So like I’ve said countless times before – and I’m sure most people who are against “PC recasting” would agree (although I expect that a percentage base it on racism – I would hope that the majority do not) – I, as a white guy, don’t give a shit if the star of the movie I am watching is white/black/brown as long as it’s a good movie.
            Would I be pissed of if Army Of Darkness 2 was announced and Ash was to be played by a black actor? You’re damn right – unless it was part of “the joke” per se, that “this” Ash was from an alternate reality (so isn’t the original) and has to team up with the original – that could work quite well IF the right actor is chosen for the role. It could be fun.
            Perhaps this alternate reality is due to “our” Ash reading aloud from the Necromicon again to finally cleanse the world of it’s evil. But, he speaks the words incorrectly. Again. And screws things up big time.

            And you’re correct – Blade should be a Brit.

          • Jada Maes

            Yep, go ahead and DON’T COMMENT about actual brownface being used in the goddamn 21st century you fucking windbag.

          • Saturn

            How can I comment about something I have never seen – I had no idea that they did that in the movie. It would be stupid of me to comment on something I know nothing about, then again I am pre-Millenium, so haven’t had to deal with so much white-shaming during my schooling and obviously aren’t as smart as the average white college student who in their few short years have the answer to all life’s problems.
            Are you as angry about the movie White Girls where 2 black men dress up as white blonde women and act kinda dumb? You do find that as offensive, right?
            If not then why not?
            Is “offence mode” only triggered when it’s those horwwible wacist whiteys who do something, but when others do it it’s perfectly fine, because, you know, patriarchy.
            Is it okay for you now that Keanu played a mixed raced Asian character, now that you’ve learned that his of mixed raced Asian descent? Are you fine that a “fictional” character, who looked pretty European in the original Anime version of GITS is played by someone of European descent? If not, take it up with the Japanese creator of the character.

            You shouldn’t be so quick to get your knickers in a twist – and please don’t resort to foul language. It’s not very becoming.

            Anyway, I’m done with this thread now as I have to find some other guilty ex slave owner blue eyed devils and make up for it by virtue signalling for others who see us as useful idiots.

    • Hack Snyder

      I really don’t get this “I’ll ignore all of the red flags and support this pile of shit! I’m sure they’ll eventually improve things” attitude. Just say no, it saves you money and tells the studio that they should stop fucking around and do a proper adaptation. Blindly supporting this shit isn’t going to encourage the studio to fix things.

      • Jada Maes

        I’m not blindly supporting anything. I love the actors and I love the story, and I highly doubt my ticket is the one that’ll clinch a franchise. It’s a goddamn movie, get over it.

        • Hack Snyder

          “I love the actors”
          Okay.
          “I love the story”
          Then why are you interested in this film? It isn’t a proper adaptation of the novels.
          “I highly doubt my ticket is the one that’ll clinch a franchise”
          You know what I mean.
          “It’s a goddamn movie, get over it.”
          Ayy, no need to get pissy. If you want to give this film your money then go right on ahead, I won’t try to stop you. Although I would recommend that you stop whining about racism, most of the people mocking this film aren’t racist.

          • Jada Maes

            Again, there have been hundreds of comments moaning and complaining about Elba, almost wholesale complaining about him being black. And yes, I started reading DT when I was 12, and I still want to see the movie. So go away.

          • Hack Snyder

            “Again, there have been hundreds of comments moaning and complaining
            about Elba, almost wholesale complaining about him being black.”
            Well, Roland being white is a key part of his character. Anyway, countless people have numerous issues with the film that don’t have anything to do with race. You should stop acting like all of the film’s detractors are racist.

          • Jada Maes

            It’s NOT ESSENTIAL TO HIS GODDAMN CHARACTER. There’s no point that the story grinds to a halt unless he’s white. That’s asinine. And I’m not acting like all the detractors are racist, SOME of them are nitpicking jagoffs who whine for the sake of whining. IT’S A MOVIE AND IT CAME OUT AND THE WORLD CONTINUES TO TURN SWEETHEART SO PISS OFF.

          • Hack Snyder

            “It’s NOT ESSENTIAL TO HIS GODDAMN CHARACTER.”
            I could ramble about how Roland is a homage to Clint Eastwood’s The Man With No Name but there’s no point. No matter what I say you’ll insist there’s nothing wrong with Sony changing Roland’s race. The funny thing is I bet if an iconic black character was changed to white you would scream “WHITEWASHING!”
            “IT’S A MOVIE AND IT CAME OUT AND THE WORLD CONTINUES TO TURN SWEETHEART SO PISS OFF.”
            It’s funny how you keep acting like I’m the one overreacting when you’re the one who’s very clearly mad as fuck.

          • Jada Maes

            It doesn’t go both ways. There aren’t nearly enough black characters out there to begin with, or Asian or East Indian or Native American or Hispanic. And you’re avoiding admitting that his race does not affect the story in any way (barring Detta Walker who turns face later anyway).

          • Hack Snyder

            “It doesn’t go both ways. There aren’t nearly enough black characters out
            there to begin with, or Asian or East Indian or Native American or
            Hispanic.”
            If you’re against whitewashing but perfectly fine with blackwashing you’re a hypocrite. End of discussion.
            “And you’re avoiding admitting that his race does not affect the story in
            any way (barring Detta Walker who turns face later anyway).”
            Lol, I was just about to mention Detta but you did it for me. You just negated your own point. Him being white fucking matters, by changing his race you’ve fucked with his relationship with Detta and you’ve stripped away the fact that he’s a homage to The Man With No Name. These aren’t little nitpicks, these are major parts of his character.

          • Jada Maes

            Shhh, dumdum…

          • Hack Snyder

            ayy lmao

          • Saturn

            Although I get your point, are you upset when you watch J horror and there are no black/white folk?
            How about Bollywood movies, not so many black/white folk doing those awesome dance routines.
            Of course Africa and the Middle-East have their own extremely popular (maybe not so much in the West, but in other parts of the world) – do you get upset about the lack of “diversity”?

            As I said, not having a go at you – but let’s not pretend that in a predominately white Western world that’s it’s unfair to expect to see a wider representation of white European peoples.

            Do you get upset when there are very few Jews in movies in Muslim countries?

            It seems it’s fine for everywhere else to cater to their predominant culture, but when the West do it? Can’t have that.
            George Soros would have a hissy fit.

            Look, I know what you’re getting at – and I “get” it – but when we hear “there aren’t that many successful black film makers out there – something must be done!” then perhaps if these said black film makers would stop making movies about “the ‘hood” and “thug life” and did something a little different (Get Out is an excellent example) then perhaps there would be more success for them.
            It seems that the majority of black director’s want to just make “gangta’s got a chip on their shoulders due to whitey” movies or extremely lowest common denominator “comedys”.

            The guy who did “Get Out” and the guy who did “Creed” are 2 black director’s whose next material I will watch with an open mind – and hope they can both follow up strongly.

          • Fire2box

            “Well, Roland being white is a key part of his character.” How?

          • Hack Snyder

            There’s a black character who hates Roland because he’s white. Plus he’s supposed to look a lot like Clint Eastwood. Roland is Stephen King’s homage to The Man With No Name.

          • Charyou

            Well of course we should complain about him being black. They disregard the source material so openly that they changed the very appearance of the character in a large way, when they easily could have made him white. You know, like the character actually is. And don’t even get started on the “well why does he need to be white?” bullshit. Based on that logic, they could’ve cast a woman as Roland. The character is white, and it’s not racist to be utterly baffled at the changing that.

          • Jada Maes

            …man, female Roland would be hot…

          • Fire2box

            the movie isn’t an adaptation of the novels it takes place after the books.

          • Hack Snyder

            That’s my point. Why be hyped for an unnecessary quasi-sequel? Why didn’t the studio just do a proper adaptation?

  • David Tucker

    Just watched the flick, after recently reading the novels. Wow. What a forgettable piece of shit. For the first 30 mins or so I thought, okay, this is a different take, but it has some nods and I’m willing to give it the benifit of the doubt… maybe it gets better. Then 69 minutes hits and I’m thinking, “yeah, this is just no good.” I see what they did, and why they thought they should do it, but it was NOT the correct choice. By 90 minutes: oh my god. This feels like I’ve been watching this for 4 hours.

    • Jim Robison

      I think they should have just stuck to the First Book alone instead of adding the 3rd book in it. I think people would have been happier just sticking to the first book since they are doing a tv show and maybe movie sequels. The problem also was that the movie was too short and should’ve focused more on the characters.

  • dukeblues

    It looked spectacularly stupid in the videos I have seen. How many times do we have to see the same old special effects with guns. I will not be watching it. I’d rather watch the classic Salems Lot mini series. More proof that modern movies are action packed shit shows

  • Cain Horton

    I mean honestly, what did you expect when they started screwing around with the source material. That’s a death sentence for any movie adaptation of a book.

  • Richard Kavanagh

    This is exactly the sort of review I like to see. Highlights what the viewer will and won’t get out of the film. In this case, it sounds like a decently-executed time-killer when I was hoping for something genuinely interesting. I actually have a lot of time for the former, but there’s an absolute plethora of them on Netflix, so that’s the cost of the ticket saved. Cheers!

    • Thanks a lot for this comment! You hit the nail on the head in terms of what I was going for with the review.

  • Demented Daniel
  • tbaio

    The review hit the nail on the head with, “a spooky action movie that let’s you turn your brain off for 87 minutes.” That’s exactly what this movie was. If you didn’t read the books and have no source material to compare this to, then its not a bad movie. Where I disagree with the review is with the final battle. I felt that for a PG-13 movie, the gun fight was very well staged. The villain’s henchmen come at him in swarms and he keeps blasting them away with gusto! And that’s it. My 2 cents.

    • Brando

      I thought that last gun battle in the Dixie Pig felt like the Tull massacre.

  • HeteroFriendly

    “along with a boring and uninspired screenplay,”

    Theres a lot of bad screenplay writing going around these days.
    Just notably and obviously so in pricey cattle drives that could easily afford to do better.

    If I were a conspiracy minded type I might suspect that the people who control and run hollywood have been putting WAAAY too much emphasis into inserting their politics and agendas into the media they make instead of just making and selling good media to the public just for its own stand alone artistic merits.

    And I’m not talking about just this movie or Elba being Black, although one might argue that that was a politically considered decision, but just most hollywood media I see these days seems to put their politics way too far upfront which distracts and trips itself over its own feet from just making good enjoyable art.

    But that may be the problem of a perspective from the kind of people who enjoy and are entertained by their own politics.

    Rambling aside Fini.

    • HeteroFriendly

      “stock footage of New York City to gawk at, and the street level scenes
      do a better job of capturing what it’s actually like there.”

      Anyday stock footage of that cesspool new york has always struck me as the most terrifying and monstrous thing one could imagine in a fever dream nightmare.

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