In yet another ostentatious but ultimately unfathomable sci-fi drivel, Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower is a towering mess of epic proportions. Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the movie is an amalgamation of eight different editions, stuffed in a ninety-minute film that regardlessly feels like a tiring rigmarole.
At the heart of the matters is a gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) who relentlessly pursues the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), the antagonist who not only kills his father, but also threatens to topple the “Dark Tower” which holds the key to two different worlds.
And accompanying him in this preposterous journey is Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a young New Yorker who dreams about the dystopia that the estranged “Man in Black” causes, and scribbles the characters on sheets of paper.
For all the thrill-shrill-wham-bam that the trailer promised, the movie is a mere damp squib that loses its all the sheen in the terrible execution of its narrative. Save for a few impressive character arcs, The Dark Tower is nothing but an unmitigated wreck.
Here are some of the highlights, the lowlights and a final verdict of the movie.
Nikolaj Arcel fails to recreate the magic of the novels on the celluloid
The Dark Tower book series had taken all and sundry by awe. With a thematic concoction of sci-fi, horror, thriller and dark fantasy, Stephen King’s novelry was appreciated for its ingenuity and unique storyline. The movie though is a poor imitation of the same.
In an attempt to derive a script out of eight different novels, the makers end up creating a bland, tasteless cocktail that lacks the fizz and leaves a sour taste behind. Blame the flimsy foundations of the story upon which the film is made.
Arcel’s attempt to merge eight different stories into one deserves a mention, but the lousy pace at which the movie sounders and the poor storytelling, just buries all the positives deep under the debris.
It’s an opportunity lost.
Elba packs a punch
Not to say there’s nothing rosy in the garden. Idris Elba’s portrayal as the impeccably precisioned gunslinger is perhaps one of the few highlights of the movie.
His role demands him to go from someone emotionally-torn, grieving the murder of his father, to grow into a revenge-driven savior who goes hell for leather to thwart the evil machinations of Walter Padick. Suffice to say, Elba pulls the depiction of each emotion with just as much precision as his bullet-shots in the film.
The 44-year old Brit steals the thunder from his counterpart McCounaughey, who wears a perennially deadpan expression and thereby failing to exude any sort of menace that he was supposed to.
Arguably some of Elba’s best work is on show here.
The visual effects are mundane and underwhelming
Amongst the big-budget box-office duds of the year Transformers and Valerian, the former was criticised for its inane use of visuals while the latter salvaged some pride in truly enchanting graphics.
The Dark Tower seems betwixt and between.
The dream sequences that Jake experiences ooze quality left, right and centre, but the fight scenes in the village aren’t as gripping. Perhaps the best visual treat arrives towards the end of it all, when the gunslinger finally confronts the Man in Black and they go all guns blazing at each other.
Yet, the climax seems so hurried and haste, and therein loses some sheen.
Verdict: Don’t peer into this darkness
The Dark Tower is, eventually, no bigger than the sum of its parts. Despite the flashes of promise here and there, the movie never really builds on it. And entertainment is few and far between.
Sci-fi movies these days border more on pompous, pretentious action that don’t really add up or conjure a story worth telling. The Dark Tower is neither, strangely.
In case you haven’t watched it already, then gleefully continue to avoid it.