The road to get the film adaptation of Stephen King‘s Dark Tower/Gunslinger book series to the screen has been very long and met with more hurdles than you could possibly imagine. Over the last decade, a large number of studios, directors and stars have been associated with the big screen version, but plans didn’t fully come together until recently. Now that the movie is actually here, we need to wonder if it was actually worth the wait. The short answer is no, not really.
I am definitely a Stephen King fan, but for some reason I went into this movie without having read a word of the books. Normally, if a literary adaptation is coming to cinemas and I haven’t read the books on which it is based, I’ll try and read it before seeing the movie. However, I wasn’t about to knock out an eight books and over 4000 pages, so I really had no clue what I was getting into. What I do know is that it would be impossible to adapt so much source material into an under 2 hour film. Something was bound to be be left out, and even with the announcement that a TV series continuation (featuring the same actors) would pick up where the movie left off, I was still concerned that we’d be missing too much. My worries were alleviated when I found out that the movie was partially a sequel to the final book in the series, but replaced by new concerns about not having a clue about anything that happened prior to the events of the film. Luckily, the movie version sets up the plot quite well and I really didn’t need to know the story to understand what was happening. Unfortunately, aside from a couple action pieces, the film is really quite boring.
In theory, one thing the movie should have gotten right is the casting of Hollywood heavyweights Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. While Elba, who is quite possibly the world’s coolest man, does well given how underwritten the film is, McConaughey gives possibly his cheesiest performance to date. He is a very capable actor, and given the right role, he can do wonders with it. It appears the one type of role he cannot pull off is a villainous one. As much as he tries to be intimidating, every time he tries to be menacing the film screeches to a halt. The sad thing is that he appears far too often, and this 95 minute film seems to go on for hours. Luckily, Elba is more than capable of picking up the slack.
Another negative is that considering the movie is based around a character called the gunslinger, there is very little actual gun play in the movie. There are a few scenes of guns being shot, but there is really only two times that are actually memorable. These two gun battles are by far the best parts of the movie, but as they only take up about 10-15 minutes total, it just wasn’t enough to keep my interest.
The quality of the movies based on Stephen King‘s novels goes from masterful (The Shawshank Redemption) to downright terrible (The Lawnmower Man), and everywhere in between. I never really expected The Dark Tower to reach the heights of his best adaptations, but I also didn’t expect it to wind up in the company of trash cinema like Maximum Overdrive. Sadly, it winds up in the lesser half of his movies. If the TV series does come to fruition, I will check it out in hopes of getting a better idea of the story. But as it stands now, I really can’t recommend The Dark Tower to anyone but the die hard King fans. Let’s all hope that IT gives us our King fix next month.
FINAL GRADE: C-