If you’ve not yet seen The Dark Tower you’re probably scratching your head at the title of this review. In fact, being that you’re reading this means that you’re at least interested or intrigued as to why I would endorse this film in the first place. What about the reviews? The RT scores? The angry fanboys?
The truth is that reviews rarely dissuade me from seeing and critiquing a film. RT is not the final authority and I’ve found that many times I’ve enjoyed movies that they’ve lambasted. Of course The Dark Tower was the latest victim to fall, reaching an abysmal 18%. But being that I’m a big fan of Stephen King adapted films such as The Shining, Misery, and The Green Mile I trounced over to the theater to give it a look-see. What I discovered was a pretty darn entertaining film (although perhaps not entertaining in the sense the director had hoped).
So the plot is simple enough. A young boy has dreams about a dark tower and a man in black who is being hunted by a gunslinger who wants to kill him in an act of revenge for killing his dad. The man in black is hunting the boy because he needs his mind to destroy the dark tower which protects all the dimensions of the universe from demons who want to wreak havoc on civilizations.
Good stuff, right? This movie is based off of Stephen King’s popular book series that contains eight novels. Yep. You heard right. Eight books of content stuffed into 1 hour and 35 minutes. This seems to be the biggest complaint amongst fans of the books. All I have to say is that now they know how a Hobbit fan feels in reverse.
Anyway I’ve never read the books so thankfully I didn’t know what I was missing. I just took what was offered to me at face value which I found to be a interesting premise interspersed with some of the most over-the-top dynamics I’ve ever witnessed in a movie that were so unbelievably ridiculous that they became incredibly entertaining.
I can already tell that I’m starting to lose you so here’s some real time examples:
- Matthew McConaughey is the villain for starters which I just really couldn’t wrap my mind around. Every time he did something sinister I kept hearing “All right, all right, all right” in my mind. Not to mention The Man in Black is pretty stereotypical. He has very little depth to his character and seems to act with a reckless kind of foolishness in his dealings with underlings and enemies. His most common form of execution is to tell people to “Stop breathing”. He randomly walks by little girls eating ice cream cones and tells them to hate their mothers. He possesses people and makes them shoot shotguns against their will, and he also is the proud owner of some of the worst lines in the movie. He’s a villain you love though, because hey! It’s Matthew McConaughey!
- The fighting is so completely exaggerated that you will find yourself chuckling more than once at the absolute ludicrousness of some of the feats the characters pull off especially with firearms. I would love to spoil this review with some of the most hilarious references but I’ll leave them for your discovery and enjoyment. Let’s just say that if The Matrix’s style of fighting was a little over the top for you then the fighting in The Dark Tower may leave you shell-shocked for the rest of your life. The last scene alone will have you laughing out loud and face-palming until your forehead turns unnatural colors.
- The baddies in this film are all taken from old movie prop shops and recycled/recruited as demons and minions from another dimension. A particularly overwhelming orc presence from The Lord of the Rings can be clearly seen in the film and you now have the answer as to what happened to the legions of dark forces that survived the battle of the Black Gate at the end of The Return of the King. Apparently they reconnected with their agents and made an appearance as minions of The Man in Black in The Dark Tower. There are other monsters as well but they are very hard to see. Most of the gun battles take place in almost complete darkness so all you see is Idris Elba running around shooting shadows that catapult backwards into trees, walls, and houses.
- There’s definitely some recognizable faces in this film such as McConaughey, Elba, and the guy who plays Penguin in Gotham but one particular face that you’ll probably recognize but won’t be able to put a finger on is Roland Deschain’s father, Steven Deschain, who is played by Dennis Haybert. Name doesn’t ring a bell? You may recognize him as the guy who does the Allstate commercials. An interesting casting choice for sure. I guess the director was trying to say that this film was “in good hands.”
As you can see this film is pretty campy. Its exaggerated fight sequences, simple plot, and stereotypical villains and monsters make it another sci-fi film that would not be too memorable if not for some of the scenes that make it unforgettably ridiculous. Is it cheesy? Yes it many respects. But it’s also fun…you know…like Sharknado or something.
It should be noted that there are some genuine moments in the film that were soul stirring and Idris Elba and Tom Taylor do a fine job as the lead protagonists. And as I said earlier in the review the plot is interesting enough to hold one’s attention and the premise is good enough to keep you engaged.
In conclusion, I think you should go see this movie–not expecting to see something spectacular but expecting something that will surely entertain and excite, providing you don’t plan on taking it too seriously. I wouldn’t go so far to say that it’s so bad that it’s good–but I would go so far as to say that it’s not as bad as critics say. It’s an awesome movie as far as satire goes…the problem is I don’t think the director intended it to be satire.