“The Dark Tower” film springs from the mighty imagination of horror writer Stephen King. Given the circumstances at the end of the film, it’s safe to say that more movies based on the walloping eight-book series will be coming after we recover from this one.
If you’ve ever had the spooky pleasure of curling up with a Stephen King tome, you know that some of the best things about Stephen King’s work just don’t translate all that well to the screen. Even with star power oozing from tall Texan Matthew McConaughey, the thrill factor runs thin. As far as plot nuances go, “The Dark Tower” goes nowhere beyond the basics of good vs. evil, and by the time the real battles come, nobody cares.
As the Man in Black, McConaughey embodies all the evil in the universe. He’s the devil incarnate with the one goal in mind of bringing everything and everybody over to the demon-filled dark side.
You would think that an epitome of evil doers would have dialed the sinister way up into overdrive. The McConaughey genius behind “aw right, aw right, aw right” proves disappointing in his portrayal of ultimate wickedness. He’s far too reserved, lacks any of the creepy-factor, and as the manifestation of all the world’s evil, proves lackluster.
When he kills the father (Dennis Haysbert) of his arch enemy Roland Deschain a.k.a The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), he simply points at the man and says, “Stop breathing.” The elder Mr. Deschain just quietly rolls over and dies. In his finest hour, the Man in Black drops his enemy with a broken glass shard. He uses similar death skills when he arrives on earth and eliminates young Jake Chambers’s (Tom Taylor) stepfather. We’re spared the actual scene of another murder, but the charred floorboards appears to mean that he wields a mean flame.
Although he’s only a child of eleven, Chambers has “the shine,” a superpower that thwarts the evil plans for world domination. When young Chambers finally finds the entrance to the middle world and partners with Deschain, his situation takes a serious turn.
For months, Chambers has failed to convince his well-meaning mother Laurie (Katheryn Winnick) that his haunting dreams must be some kind of warning. Plagued with strange phenomena, he plasters his walls with drawings of a tall tower, a tall man in black, and a gunslinger. When he ultimately encounters the stuff of his dreams, it’s simply too late to do much of anything but run around and fight.
It’s not clear why Deschain’s weapon of choice against evil would be an antique gun, or why he thinks it would be effective against the Man in Black, who catches bullets in mid-air.
All in all, “The Dark Tower” and everybody involved are a dark disappointment. Stand-by, however. We have seven more novels to go. Now that’s scary.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.
Marilyn Robitaille has written film reviews for the Empire-Tribune since 1999.